When the Cherwell Fashion section was lucky enough to secure access to two shows at the end of London Fashion Week 2012, I for one was ecstatic. Just those three letters L F W had me hysterical and already planning my best nonchalant, but still on trend, outfits to wear (incidentally had to pull the biggest fashion faux pas and wear the same thing twice due to a logistics error- the SHAME- but covered it up through the concept of recycling and the fact that really no one cared who I was). The shows were for designers I had never encountered before, and so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but last week I set off with two of my deputies to the capital, ready to experience all things Fashion.
Wednesday had us heading to Leicester Square, and once we had got over the minor mishaps of me nearly breaking my leg falling down the stairs of the Oxford Espress bus, and my deputy Adi getting his bag and nearly himself trapped in the tube doors, we arrived surprisingly on time at the nightclub ‘One’ for Danish Wekeel’s menswear show.
Wekeel is open in his desire for bravery, and in his press release he states his focus as catering for metrosexual men who aren’t afraid to break boundaries in order to be themselves. His collection entitled ‘Draped Modern Kouroi’ certainly didn’t disappoint in this respect. The focus was on drama, from the red petals scattered on our chairs to the opening burlesque show (as pictured), and even the film starring Danish himself. It certainly wasn’t for the faint-hearted. However, despite the surrounding drama, the clothes were definitely a step away from his previous collections that I had looked up, such as ‘Death Being Eroticized’ which was inspired by ‘decay, cruelty, dark glamour, fetishism, disconnection, phantasmagoria and the subculture Goth.’ I should probably be thankful that I was encountering a toned down Wekeel because some of these elements definitely still had a presence!
This collection, although still concentrating on sex and dark glamour to an extent, is designed to be wearable and in this Wekeel is mostly successful. The looks combined the idea of traditional draping, reasserting the drape as a masculine element looking back to Highland kilts and Greek and Roman togas, yet had a strong sense of tailoring. There were some really effective pieces, especially the jackets with asymmetric lines, and Danish’s personality was definitely visible in his work, something which was highlighted through his own modelling of the pieces. However I did find myself focusing more on the performance elements that preceded and then surrounded the show itself, and so I felt they were ultimately a little distracting from the main event- the clothes.
On Thursday the designer in question was Lewis-Duncan Weedon, who in a cheeky play on the well-known initials of London Fashion Week abbreviates his label to LDW atelier. This collection debuted in the more classy environment of the five-star Montcalm Hotel, Marble Arch, and there were even a few glasses of free champagne being passed around ‘VIP’ guests (sadly not me), yet there was still the same sense of drama.
Having briefly met Lewis-Duncan at Danish’s show the night before (and having to deal with the embarrassing situation of my camera breaking just as I tried to take his photo), I had already experienced his eccentricity as he wore fake eyelashes and liberal lip gloss teamed with a large statement beaded necklace and fake tattoo gloves. Consequently I was expecting something more out of the ordinary, yet in his womenswear collection Weedon keeps to classical feminine shapes . The focus is on glamour, and despite his large personality (he too modelled his own clothes in 6-inch heels), Weedon manages to keep to this brief. He celebrates the female form, and the collection felt wearable for a much wider audience. Although I must admit I was a little disappointed, having got a taste for the extreme the night before, even though not necessarily my ‘thing’, and I had hoped for something similarly memorable.
One point that really made an impression on me was that, refreshingly, there was a broad size range of models rather than just the stick-thin girls that we have come to expect, and this is something this branch of fashion could teach the bigger names. Wekeel’s show mainly showcased men but there were some female drapes and the women who were used in the performance sections were definitely ‘real’ size. Weedon’s choice of models had an even greater range, not just in weight, but also height and most interestingly age, using not only young models like Kimberley (one of the stars of Ireland and Britain’s Next Top Model) but also some much older models.
All in all my time at Fashion Week was definitely an eye-opener. In my lofty dreams of designers such as Chanel, Burberry, and Luella- I had been boring friends with the Karl Lagerfeld’s stills from Chanel’s Spring/Summer 2012 campaign just days before (would recommend this monochrome delight)- I wasn’t sure this world would be very ‘me’, and in a sense it wasn’t, yet I loved the way they stay true to their own visions and found the experience dramatic and exciting. There is a strong element of who-knows-who, as you would expect, however the mini-society I found with Danish Wekeel and LDW atelier was welcoming, friendly, and brilliantly out-of-the-ordinary.
Adi and I following Wekeel’s ‘Draped Modern Kouroi’ show