Fashion's Freshest Faces
Knitwear made with mathematical precision from Chen's LCF degree show presentation
London Fashion Week is all about fresh talent, so we suggest looking straight into the nest to find the newest names. London College of Fashion gave us J.W.Anderson, Ryan Lo, and James Long and now we give you the four most exciting up and coming designers from their MA womenswear course.
Lorenzo Buzzi is unapologetically Italian in his embracing of riches and sumptuous fabrics. His graduate collection has all the trimmings: intricately woven jacquards, silk taffeta, draped shoulders, corseted jackets and severe white collars.The 23-year-old learnt to love luxury because of his grandmother, Carla, he says. “She looks like a proper Italian diva: lots of makeup, vintage diamond earrings, brooches and brown mink capes.”
Inspired by Tom Blachford’s Palm Springs photographs, Buzzi imagined, “this blond, stereotyped, American housewife, cooking sausages and beans in a pastel-coloured Smeg kitchen.” The designer sought to rewrite the misogyny of 1950s society, empowering his housewife, “through art, culture and fashion: the only instruments we have nowadays to fight ignorance and approval. She makes a clear and strong statement through an explosion of opulent tapestries and jacquards.”
Lorenzo has a not-so-London approach to his career. “I never wanted to establish my own brand. There is no need at all nowadays, we should just try to make those already existing more interesting.”
Katrina Wilson carved out her own career in fashion, convincing her school to start running A-Level Textile classes specifically for her. Since then, she’s won a scholarship to LCF’s MA course and her prints have been bought up by Hobbs for two seasons.
Similarly mesmerising patterns, ablaze with colour, are at the core of her current collection. They are hand-painted, digitalised and then printed onto different fabrics: tulle, stretch mesh and dense cottons. Her colourful skins create a body-paint effect – inspired by the trends of the African tribes she saw in Hans Silvester and Mario Gerth’s photographs.
The designer collaborated with the Kenyan jewellery maker Rahab Kenana to make intricately beaded accessories worn over the shoulders, as a halter or a belt. Wilson is realistic about her future: “It would be kind of naive to start my own label right now – I would love to go to Kenzo!”
Wendel Heung’s mother may have been a tailor, but she never wanted him to work in fashion “She didn’t teach me anything!” Complains the 28-year-old designer. Despite this, Heung went on to launch his own label in 2012. It lasted only one year. “It was stressful!” he says. The Chinese designer wants to ease himself in this time around, working part time for Xu Zhi alongside his MA. He says he would like his own brand but he’s not ready yet.
The designer based his autumn/winter 2017 collection on what he calls ‘nocturnalism’ – a hybrid state of dream and reality. Although Heung doesn’t sleepwalk, he is fascinated by it. So, the collection has all the traditional underwear and nightwear elements: nude nylon, mesh body-stockings, clip fastenings and corsetry. ‘CAN ANYBODY HEAR ME?’ is embroidered onto pieces, capturing the essence of sleep paralysis. This collection is fun and sexy, but it has a definite eerie edge.
Chen is an ex-engineer. “I found my passion in combining technology and art,” she tells us. The 26-year-old uses Stoll knitting machines to produce impeccable knitwear with mathematical precision. By combining different tensions and lacing elastic with angora yarns, Chen’s collection is a colourful array of graphic stripes, checks and block squares that are just as interesting on the inside as on the outside.
The Chinese designer wants to simplify fashion. “Personally, I felt deprived of the primary joy of creating a garment whenever I was expected to impose a concept onto my works,” she says. Her inspiration came from art, but in a refreshingly unpretentious way. “Alexander Calder’s works at the Tate Modern were the most delightful I have ever seen. And many of them were created for children. So, I decided to conduct my research in a simpler and more playful way.”
Chen’s designs aims are simple: “I will follow my instinct to only collect images that bring me visual pleasure in my daily life.”
The LCF MA17 womenswear show takes places on Thursday the 16th February at 7pm. Don’t have a ticket? Watch the live stream right here.
Text by Abigail Southan
Photography: Felix Cooper Creative Direction: Anders Sølvsten Thomsen