Article: Jaswant Bhachu
Since making its mark in 2002, the ON-OFF show has become a staple in London Fashion Week. They pride themselves in being pioneers of showcasing fresh new talent mixed in with well-established designers. Over the 16 years ON-OFF has been going it has become renown for pushing the boundaries of creativity and nurturing individuality.
Kicking off the show was brand ‘This is Uniform’ by designer Jenna Young. The handmade pieces hold the essence of British street wear whilst exploring issues of gender, race, status and sexuality. These bold themes were demonstrated clearly with a wide range of unconventional models, ranging in size, ages and ethnicity. Fabric manipulation is key in this collection offering a great sense of fragility using voiles and mesh. The juxtaposition of masculine shapes with the femininity of the fabrics makes this a stand out show.
Next up is Honest Man and this collection was anything but minimal. Exaggerated masks and props teamed up with heavy layering had the audience captivated from the word go. Known for their use of ethically sourced materials and using reclaimed clothing; there was a great sense of fun and playfulness throughout. As a former PPE clothing designer early on in my career, the hi-vis work wear references were thoroughly enjoyed. The use of mix media added a great dimension to the collection. This ranged from hand drawn illustrations to applique to mark making brush effects. Each garment could be dissected and seen as a piece of art in it’s own right.
Fresh new talent launching in SS17 the dynamic brand Longshaw Ward. Created by husband and wife designers David Longshaw and Kirsty Ward, you can see a clear mix of their two styles of work. Ward offers the masculine tailored structures mixed in with Longshaw’s more feminine hand drawn aesthetic. The collection is predominately made up of block colours. However the intricacy and boldness comes from the detailed embroidery in the colours of the sea from turquoise blues to lemon yellows. The use of delicate net fabric creates the illusion of simplicity and clean lines. Yet when inspected closely the level of work in the embroidery, embellishment and accessories creates a great unique voice to the collection.
At last but definitely not least, the ever-fascinating Jack Irving. Best known for dressing the likes of Lady Gaga, the Costume Designer and Artist left everyone’s jaws on the floor. The realms of wearable art, fashion and a unique cosmic world of its own amalgamate to make this stellar collection. Metallic, shiny, futuristic and dramatic are just a few words that could be used to describe this catwalk. The use of inflatable forms and oversized silhouettes takes onlookers into another world. The models are transformed into alien showgirls with references to the natural world of the sea. One would question is it fair to call this just a fashion show or is this live art and theatre.
One thing is for sure; it is a finale we won’t forget.