Non-profit incubator of unbridled talent, Fashion East, showcased it's almost all new line-up yesterday at the Tate x Topshop showspace. Lulu Kennedy's new students are Westminster graduate Louise Alsop and Central Saint Martins graduate Helen Lawrence. They joined pop princess Ashley Williams for her third and final, funky showing with Fashion East.
Cute, happy, young grunger Louise Alsop was in all black and had plaits in her hair when we chatted backstage. First out, her multi-layered looks had words 'loveless' and 'hopeless' scrawled across them in trailing thread, all monochrome with blocks of light green and references from South Park and 80s/90s hardcore gigs, it was the perfect balance of easygoing, sexy and tomboy! Next up was Helen Lawrence, with double-brushed, mint-green mohair that you just wanted to sink into like ice-cream, dirty urban greys and her trademark scribble stitching. After spotting Harry Styles' Instagram @happyashleyland saying sorry but he couldn't make it, our hearts dropped just a little but were brought straight back up again with her bright-eyed Calamity Janes, space-age Bo Peep's and pin-up Ashley Williams twist. This is the future of fashion...
Amazing show, well done! How do you feel it went?
Okay, we had a bit of a nightmare with models...
Some of the models were a bit late coming from other shows and things but it was fine. It's always more of a nightmare with me because I have so many layers! Luckily I only ended up with two changes. I didn't want any but we ended up with two on two really amazing girls so I was really happy. It was the first, last, second and eighteenth looks.
How's it been preparing for it?
It's been alright, everyone kept telling me how calm I was over the whole process but yesterday and today were the days when I was just like 'no, I can't be chilled out!' But still, I think in terms of everybody else, I am... It's all on the inside!
What are you going to do to celebrate?
I just really want to sleep! No, I just want to do something really normal like go and get something really amazing to eat, it's been rice-cakes and things you can snack on all while you're sorting out looks.
The collection's quite grungy, what was the starting point?
Yeah it was, I didn't want it to be super-grungy, I wanted a fine balance between it, that's where the green came in. I get really scared using colour so if I do use it, I'll just use one!
Is that the first time you've used colour in a collection?
Yeah, pretty much. There were graphic prints that were inspired by Sol LeWitt, but we didn't put it in the press release because I didn't want it to be just about one thing. The collection was more just clothes that I wanted to wear - I wanted the girls to feel comfortable and it's just all from... my brain! I didn't want there to be too specific references. There was also some stuff inspired by my love for really minimalist art, that's why there was white, brushed paper transferred into a print. My other print was only on two looks but I thought they were strong enough on their own, they were pictures from hardcore gigs in the 80s. It brings that in, but in a more lighthearted way, you know, 'loveless' nand 'hopeless' are just super emo!
Do you have a favourite piece from the collection?
I think the first and last looks, which is really weird because the last look had the nuns on it that I had for my graduate collection. I only wanted to do one look of it - I wanted to do something different so I did a show with like 20 models rather than six, I really wanted to push it and not repeat things that I've done before. Also, the girls looked amazing in the long dresses. I wanted it to be really easy, when the girls were like 'how should we carry our bags?' I was just like, 'however you want!' The easiest pieces are always my favourite.
Congratulations on your first Fashion East outing! How do you think it went?
Thank you! Good, busy but good.
What was your starting point for this collection?
I wanted to carry on looking at colours and textures and was looking at these old 80s images of innocent, naive gypsy kids. They were quite scruffy and I wanted quite a scruffy knit - we double-combed the mohair and oiled it and did all these different kinds of finishings on it. It was just about colours and textures - quite muted, with a lot of dark greys and little pops.
The green mohair's my favourite...
It's all really, really thick, double-wool mohair.
And you still kept the scribble knit from your last collections.
I wanted to bring through some elements from last time. We still had the raw shapes - for the MA I did that felt - but I wanted to re-use it because it's such a beautiful fabric finish, it's so soft and luxurious. I wanted to bring a luxurious hand-crafted element to the scruffy mohairs even though it's still a nice yarn.
Is that going to be your signature?
Maybe! I don't know, I might try something new...
Do you have a favourite piece from the collection?
Yes, I really love the blue bib and the printed, embroidered coat.
When's the last time you slept?
About 7 hours ago...
Oh good, so you're still going strong!
Who would be your dream girl to wear the collection?
Achievement unlocked! What do you reckon is the most funkyoffish piece?
Probably what Eliza wore at the end - the black fringe dress with the horse heads.
What have you been listening to in the studio?
Exactly what we played during the show - the Twin Peaks soundtrack.
What is your happy Ashley land?
At home watching TV with my friends.
We saw Harry Styles instagramming you before the show. How much do you love him?
I really like him... you know, as a friend. Love is a strong word.
What's your favourite emoji?
The little poo!
This is your last show as part of Fashion East. What's the plan now?
Well I know what I'd like to do... I'd like to have more shows!