Wednesday, March 26, 2008

London Fashion Week F/W 2007: The Ones To Watch

Christopher Kane

Not many new designers get a gift from Donatella Versace, but Christopher Kane isn’t your typical rookie. After graduating last year from Central Saint Martins with almost every award there is to win, Mr. Kane won a place at the House of Versace as Donatella’s style consultant for the runways. Coincidentally (or not), that’s exactly when Versace’s clothes became bolder and more relevant than they have in recent memory.

As a thank you and a show of support, Christopher’s models stomped London Fashion Week in designer shoes sent from Madame Versace herself. The collection was lauded by British Vogue as a breakthrough, and Mr. Kane was quickly sent on the fast track to stardom – months after his fifty pieces debuted on the catwalk, he scored a capsule collection deal with Top Shop. The news set off a Proenza-for-Target kind of fury, with girls scouring the Internet looking for any hint of the new clothes. They debut at London Fashion Week...

Christopher Kane

Kisa London

When this Russian label debuted last season on the catwalk, many in the industry were startled – tailored silk and chiffon was nothing new; stenciled skulls and dragons were quite popular. But to fuse them together in a coherent, beautiful, and almost unbearably cool way got the crowd’s attention, and a style star was born.

Now back for their sophomore effort, Kisa promises a runway of exquisitely made dresses and blazers, stamped in a unique array of colors and patterns that play into their vintage-with-a-twist aesthetic. But perhaps what’s off the runway will be just as noticed as what’s on it: sources promise the audience for this show will include British royal family members, several A-list starlets, and a supermodel – a Russian one, perhaps?

Basso & Brooke

House of Holland

24-year-old Henry Holland isn’t just charming (and he is, famously so – just ask Anna Wintour, who met him the night before the CFDA/ Vogue awards and promptly ushered him to the event as her guest). But Henry’s also quite charmed – how else would you explain a childhood friendship with model Agyness Deyn, a t-shirt he made in his bedroom that became world famous, and a sudden following of Lohans, Olsens, and rock stars?

Henry Holland started House of Holland two years ago, while working as a fashion assistant for a British teen magazine. It began with one garment, a huge t-shirt you could wear as a dress that screamed Love Me Some Lohan in huge black letters. Somehow, Lindsay got the shirt, and the rest is history – a slew of designer slogans like “Do Me Daily, Christopher Bailey” now sweep the shirts of club kids in Europe and America. Barneys and Seven New York sold out of their stock in days. And now, Henry’s showing at Fashion East, a launch pad for emerging designers that promises even more publicity and orders. Did Anna Wintour pick a winner right from the start? Stay tuned…

Gareth Pugh

Basso & Brooke

Last year, Bruno Basso and Chris Brooke held their show in a dungeon. It ran two hours late because it took so long for audience members (including Anna Wintour, Suzy Menkes, Hilary Alexander, and artist Matthew Stone) to find the underground passageway to the runway, and once the show started, green lasers lit up the sky.

Most collections would shrink in comparison to such presentation, but Basso’s wildly printed confections held their own: sheer evening gowns that billowed when they moved, sharply twisted belts and bows in vivid silk colors, and an overall Lewis Carroll appeal of slightly mad beauty that was both sexy and fanciful, and maybe a little bit mean.

This season, the clothes promise to be more controlled and more sophisticated – after all, the Fashion Fringe winners are now in their fourth catwalk season, with support from Aeffe and a bonafide British pop star – rave princess Namalee Bowles – as their stylist.

Gareth Pugh

It was the best fashion rumor of last season: designer Rick Owens was investing in Gareth Pugh’s fledgling fashion business, and the 25-year-old would continue showing in London. At least for now, the gossip appears to be true, and Pugh is back for his third season.

Gareth got his start making costumes for Britain’s National Youth Theatre; later he made crazy club outfits for his London friends in bands. His first collection last February featured black latex bunny suits and Hamish Bowles laughing hysterically in the front row; last year, he put sharp silver trenches and Star Wars inspired masks on models he cast through MySpace.

As for this season? There will actually be more things to wear on the catwalk, though you can expect the usual theatrics too – and rumor has it, the music is a brand new track by The Scissor Sisters, who are apparently fast fans of fashion’s new mad scientist.

The Pop Magazine Party

It’s not a fashion show, but frankly, it may as well be – Pop Magazine’s party for London Fashion Week will be jammed with starlets, stilettos, and more fashion plates than a archive can handle. Hosted by Katie Grand, Pop’s founder and – currently – Drew Barrymore’s stylist on the Giles/ New Look line, the party is importing the MisShapes to DJ from New York. Look for the usual party suspects – Lily Cole, Camilla Al Fayed, some Guinness girls – plus perhaps a special guest star… Lindsay Lohan is rumored to be Pop’s next cover star, shot by Mert & Marcus shortly after she did their Miu Miu ads.

— Faran Krentcil

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