Grunge to Cowgirl: Fashion East Fall 2014

It was all change at Fashion East for fall, as two fixtures on last season’s triple bill — Ryan Lo and Claire Barrow — graduated on to NEWGEN exhibitor status, the fast track to success in London’s uniquely supportive ecosystem for young designers.

In their place, firstly, we had Louise Alsop. Besotted with the enchanted states of teenage ennui, Alsop drew inspiration from hardcore grunge gigs of the early 90s. Here were unraveling sweatshirts, knee-length board shorts, mannish coats with split seams and trailing ankle-skimming skirts. The palette was largely monochrome with an occasional shot of eau-de-nil, a pale green inspired, says Louise, by an episode of South Park, a curious juxtaposition echoed in the diaphanous panels of chiffon inserted into the grungiest pieces. The words ‘loveless’ and ‘hopeless’ were stitched into sweaters like logos. Rarely has angst seemed so sophisticated.

Helen Lawrence, another first-timer, is a knitter by training; her mohair separates in blush pink, putty and elephant-gray are seductively engulfing. The collection was sharpened by pieces in leather, denim and felt, cut into sweeping topographical curves and embroidered with with stitched graffiti scribbles.

For her final collection with Fashion East, Ashley Williams explored prairie life and the Old West through an unapologetically 90s prism. The effervescent Williams runs with a London Evening Standard-friendly crowd. Her models have previously included chums Pixie Geldof and Alice Dellal, which may have, at times, occluded the obvious talent on display. Gleefully kitsch highlights included bonnets in snakeskin and vinyl, leather pieces with huge appliquéd horse heads and fringed manes, and overalls with a high impact patchwork print. 

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