Aaron Esh made his London Fashion Week debut, building on the roaring success of the designer’s graduate collections by introducing a womenswear line.
As attendees took to their seats in a sixth-floor viewing gallery in the Tate Modern art gallery, ambient and downbeat music flooded the room. The occasion followed a momentous graduate collection earlier in the year that proved infectious for buyers, with the whole offering stocked on SSENSE.
Esh started his brand after graduating in 2022 and carved a name for himself thanks to the delicate approach he took to menswear, incorporating techniques traditionally used for womenswear alongside modern methods such as 3D printing, which was used to construct shoulders and all contributed to his position as an LVMH Prize finalist.
Aaron Esh designs for his city, crafting collections that could simply be described as “London.” He designs for the people he sees in his native Hackney, and the brand’s SS24 collection is built on this narrative.
A delicately crafted dress in a deep purple hue was first out of the block, slowly snaking through a narrow concourse of seating to a violin soundtrack and worn with black stilettos, we received our first look at the Aaron Esh woman: cool, confident and in control.
Next, we saw Esh’s tantalising tailoring take hold as a flowing suit moved freely, paired with leather ‘Comma’ flip flops and ushering in a comfortable air of nonchalance. Wide-framed sunglasses accessorised the look to channel some club-kid kineticism into the show, nodding to hedonistic nights in the city.
Structured tailoring extended into black overcoats and charcoal grey overshirts paired with ruched skirts and trousers, mirroring a school uniform. Black shirts draped from models finished with different lengths, draping from the rear and paired with leather trousers and flip flops.
Alongside structured tailoring, Esh nodded to the codes of British adolescence, seen in the inclusion of denim bootleg jeans and bomber jackets, which, according to the show notes, served as a reference to “the playfulness of retro dress-up on the weekend” as it merges into adulthood.
Looks grappled with growing up, seen in the juxtaposition between sharp men’s and womenswear detailing with everyday items, balancing the rebellion of youth with the slap-in-the-face wake-up call of your late 20s.
Models looked as ready for business as they did for beers that got out of hand. Tailored jackets were complimented with signature “AE” baseball caps attached to belt loops and sunglasses, perfect for a bit of hungover ease as you half-heartedly hide the sins of the night before, working perfectly with open-toed shoes which peaked from beneath ripped jeans.
The collection saw the return of the popular ‘Comma Derby,’ an artistic and playful take on classic footwear, reflecting Esh’s ability to find inspiration in minor details around him.
The themes of “chaos” and “control” alongside the “stillness of sobriety, the operatic hedonism of electric storms, the deep inhale and exhale of Lonson’s frenetic streets [and] the crispness of wet asphalt” were not only explored through the clothing but also through the soundtrack, as the relative calm of classical music that played at the start of the show was suddenly interrupted by energising techno, marking the contrast between growing up and letting loose, something that the Aaron Esh brand balanced well.
Esh presented an elevated offering whilst avoiding alienating earlier fans of the brand, achieved by the clear narrative which ran through the collection, a tale of youth and change, of calm and calamity, rooted in lived experience. The clothing presented had an unwaveringly stylish sensibility while still being embedded with wearable practicality and designed for the demands of urban life.
Aaron Esh SS24 was an excellent debut, a collection that took us on a journey and incorporated different pieces appropriate for anyone, no matter who they are or what they do. From suave tailoring to the unflinching cool of the baseball cap, there’s a bit of this collection for everyone.
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