Monday, 10 May 2010

Design Detail - Alternative Fashion Week

I now have a monthly column, 'Design Detail' for The Hub Magazine.
Check it out!
Here's the first installment....

This year’s Alternative Fashion Week saw over 70 new designers present their work to an estimated audience of 10,000 visitors keen to see emerging talent. With 14 or more catwalk shows each day the event had a jam-packed schedule and attracted visitors from all over the world. Hosted by Alternative Arts – a publicly funded arts organisation – they aim to ‘present fashion as an exciting and original art form’. Alternative Arts strive to raise environmental awareness and actively support recycling and ethical sourcing in fashion. “We invest in innovation and ideas. This is fashion on the edge, risky, experimental, fashion for the future.”
Alternative Fashion Week acts as a middle ground between graduate fashion shows and the mainstream fashion industry, and helped launch Gareth Pugh’s career, when he was invited byFashion East to show at London Fashion Week in 2005. The event is free to all participants and visitors alike and for this reason is hugely competitive as only 70 designers are chosen from over 500 applicants.
Alternative Fashion Week is also a great opportunity for those wanting to break into the modeling industry. All models are unpaid volunteers and many attend choreographer Rosie Whitney-Fish’s six-week modeling course prior to the event. Model scouts visit the event hoping to discover new talent.
Spitalfields Trader’s Market houses the event involving not just catwalk shows but also a fashion stalls exhibiting clothes, textiles and accessories. The atmosphere that filled the market was invigorating. The high-energy, quick-paced shows attracted flocks of people. ‘The Really Tight Corsettes’, a contemporary jazz band, accompanied each of the catwalk shows and in no small part contributed to the lively atmosphere. The excitement and energy could also be felt backstage where models were preparing and designers were making last minute adjustments.
Laura Fox’s ‘Rural Renaissance’ show was a highlight. The ‘British Heritage, Harris Tweed and Oilskin’ inspired collection presented oilskin dresses, tapered trousers, bold prints in yellows and greens and pheasant feather fascinators. Resulting in a ‘Country Life’ meets ‘Good Housekeeping’ feel with a contemporary and wearable outcome.
Kim Soeghee’s show ‘Another 7th Day’ played upto the current biker trend with emo and gothic styling, architectural tailoring and oversized, open knits. The well-selected group of moody-faced models with attitude perfectly complimented the collection. It was ‘guyliner’ galore!
Sarina Hosking’s fairytale inspired collection ‘Sarina Poppy’ was introduced as “Beauty and the Beast; where Red Riding Hood is in love with the Beast”. The concept was weakened by a little fairytale confusion, but dramatic corsetry and creative posing gave the collection a magical feel. The fabric choices caused a little more confusion with polka dots placed with velvets and lace, however this eclecticism was also the collection’s strength.
Additionally Laura Panter’s ‘A Collection that cries Adolescent with Womanly Curves’ showed interesting structural silhouettes with beautiful pastel shades and sexy feminine styling. Sophie Biddulph’s work for Chelsea College of Art and Design’s Modern Folk’ collection was a beautifully styled sophisticated outcome with a stunning charcoal grey animal skin effect print in a delicate fabric.
The event was an insight into work that may soon be seen on the catwalks of London, New York, Paris and Milan fashion weeks. The atmosphere was inspiring and I’ll definitely be visiting again next year! Visit the Alternative Arts website for more information.
Author:  Ester Kneen
Images courtesy of Natalia Kneen. From top to bottom: Sarina Hosking, Laura Fox, Kim Soeghee, Sarina Hosking, Laura Panter and Sophie Biddulph.

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