Report by Caryn Franklin MBE, fashion commentator and co-founder of
All Walks Beyond the Catwalk. Photography by catwalking.com
Winner of the 2012 Fashion Fringe award, Haizhen Wang, has enjoyed mentorship from Christopher Bailey, as well as a steady stream of accolades. His fourth season delivered a small and reliably precise take on restrained androgyny. There were shirting influences, biker jackets, sleeveless jacket and waistcoat fusions; contrasting weights in dogtooth tweed and geometric herringbone weaves. The combination delivered a classicism infused with a mischievous sense of play. We were treated to darks, greys and off-whites, but a flurry of jumpy textile collages made up for any lack of colour.
“I love tattoos,” he said, explaining the potpourri of monochrome weaves. “There is a tension in combining those elements. It almost looks like ink on the body.” This tension extended to other areas of his work. The fusion of a Chinese sensibility and a Euro aesthetic (the result of MA training with Louise Wilson) underpinned a collection that embodied a tightly bound Zen serenity with a nod to biker noir. A winning formula!
The show notes can reveal more than creative intention, and yesterday, Jackie Lee staged her own intervention with a therapeutic relaxation of her signature control. “Off-road lifestyle” is how she described it backstage, weaving into her designs thoughts of camping in the forest and mountains – memories of childhood holidays. “I let my imagination go when I am looking up at the sky: dreaming of camping, wrapping my body up in oversized coats and feeling relaxed.” The tent provides more than shelter. It inspired a decorative piped edging and a box-like sculpted structure. Car tyres were the inspiration for a geometric print and jacquard knit. The stillness and warmth of Lee’s heart’s desire was translated into minimalist princess-shape silhouettes, full-length coats, A-line skirts and slim trousers using jersey, Melton felt and British heritage fabrications, including wool and brushed-mohair tartan. “I’m learning from my customers. I take feedback and I make changes to grow my business.” Lee was focused. Abandonment was just a ruse!
Appropriately, the launch of a global campaign to end violence against women, 1 Billion Rising For Justice, and Jean-Pierre Braganza’s collection and quest to tribute women as evolved beings both fell on Valentine’s Day. “I’m surrounded by strong, intelligent women who constantly inspire me,” he affirmed. “My partner Jane has the strongest mind… my studio manager Maria is my Ukrainian powerhouse.” Lovable Braganza delivered a romantic revisit of his power-dressing signature style, complete with painterly references to Artemisia Gentileschi – a beleaguered female artist in the generation following Caravaggio. “I have explored structure with soft lines this season – formality without sacrifice to comfort. A woman can throw one of my tailored jackets over jeans and feel as intimidating as she pleases. Skater shorts in herringbone with a matching blazer bring balls to the boardroom, and simple sweaters in structured jacquard offer ultimate wearability.” Braganza was in his element… spreading the love.
“Love is a human right,” insisted Pam Hogg, in agreement with Amnesty International. Her Courage collection celebrated the release of Pussy Riot, prisoners of conscience in Putin’s Russia. “We all should have the right to love who we want, without being jailed, tortured or killed for it. I’ve created looks inspired by Pussy Riot colours to convey energy and defiance. I’ve always worked instinctively and everything seems to come together in this way.” Long, lean lines, bodycon stagewear with super-girl overtones are all staple Hogg fashion logic. Perennial narratives of strength, unapologetic femininity and more than a whiff of burlesque served the moment well yesterday. It was a show with a passionate political remit.“I have asked people to use my show as a platform to protest,” she said. Her audience, among it Paul Simonon, Gareth Pugh, Stephen Jones, Duggie Fields, Princess Julia and a host of divas in full costume, joined her to declare loyalty to a bigger cause than adornment. It was a fitting end to a fashionable 14 February for us all.