Past and future came together last night as LCF’s MA Womenswear graduates presented their final collections at the historic Hertford House. While home to the 18th century artworks in The Wallace Collection, even a few Titians and Rembrandts couldn’t overshadow the students’ displays of ingenuity, craftsmanship and originality.
The two opening collections, one a fun celebration of girliness, the other a technical display of androgyny, epitomised the key contrasting themes of the show. Yutong Jiang’s line, including a beautiful red jacket and trouser suit, soft pink A-line skirt gathered at the waist and cute cape come bomber jacket, was feminine with attitude. Yutong’s bows, whether a giant pink one across the top of a jumper dress or small and gingham framing sleeves, contrasted well with the second collection to hit the runway: Miao Ho‘s bowler hats and bowties.
Here was a demonstration of tailoring mastery and despite being a designer to play with gender, Ho maintained a clear sense of elegance. The outerwear was fantastic with a longline deep green coat ready to hit the shop floor and she proved her technical skills with a deconstructed coat also melding a cape and cropped jacket.
This play on gender and shape through deconstructed tailoring continued in Qiwen Wu and Mushroom Song’s monochrome collections. Wu tore up power dressing with pinstripes and belt looped shoulders. While Song’s oversized pleated trousers and range of shirts and tops experimented with a softer draping.
For play on texture we had Diani Diaz’ line which combined unconventional materials such as silicone and foam with meticulous attention to detail. Round shoulders contrasted with sharp oversized patch pockets and the layering of a black leather polo neck beneath sheer white balanced tough and delicate.
Shinhye Kim produced an incredibly wearable collection combining denim, leather and sheepskin. A jacket and jeans suit has never made denim look so smart and when fleecing wasn’t making for cosy collars on jackets and coats, it was used as embellishment along the seams. Sisi Tang also used fur as both full outerwear and detailing but in a glamorous, socialite-about-town kind of way. Bright yellow, blue and red brought shots of colour to dark navy, green and berry in the form of shirts, gloves or even flecks within black fur coats. While colour was limited, it was used to full effect.
Inspired by the alternative perspective astronauts have of Earth from space, Maria Piankov’s bright geometric shapes stood out from seas of black and appeared on cool transparent block clutches. A cobalt blue tunic and trouser set were particularly striking and rivalled Scottacus Anthony for full-length colour. From an orange long line military coat to hot pink fur pencil skirt, Anthony’s vibrant colours along with playful fluffy badges brought a light-hearted element to his military inspired collection. It was the only line to embrace digital print and take it to the next level with 3D details and yet there was still a grown-up womanly sophistication involved.
Equally grown-up was Kelly Cho’s sexually charged Night Porter-esque offering. Combining glossy black materials with experimental silhouettes, it had all the kink of UAL’s very own Wonderboy Gareth Pugh but perhaps with more of the commerciality he initially lacked. Gold zips and black handles, inspired by handbags, only added to the fetishistic theme. It was the antithesis of Elly Choi’s collection where knee high socks, school stripes and a blazer complete with crest, took us back to our childhood.
Also playful were Meng Yu’s pretty knitwear pieces including pinafore skirt and bell-sleeved top. Any neutral surfaces became canvases for sherbet hued paint drips and the oversizing made models appear truly childlike.
Once again LCF’s students have produced designs worthy of London Fashion Week and now masterpieces worthy of The Wallace Collection too. Well done!