fashion east spring/summer 16
Free nipples, drum 'n' bass and Sylvia Plath.
As always the melting pot of talent that is Fashion East was bubbling over once again, this time with sugar and ketchup sculptures, lots of free nipples, and plenty of box-fresh white trainers. It's been 15 years since Lulu Kennedy started up the Fashion East initiative and second-timer Caitlin Price, alongside newbies Richard Malone and This Is The Uniform celebrated in style, taking over the heart of Soho with presentations at three different locations on Greek Street.
First up we stepped back in time to Caitlin Price's world of drum 'n' bass raves, silk tracksuits and 90s lipliner - it was glorious and luxurious! Pops of acid colour were offset against black and navy, as girls with strands of gelled hair framing their faces and outlined lips leaned on abstract, white speaker systems. "The idea is based on drum 'n' bass raves, because I went to them when I was younger," Caitlin tells us over the drum 'n' bass. "I started watching a lot of old archive footage of raves, like late 90s, early 2000s. I wanted to reference the quality of footage, like it's quite glitchy. That's why some of the garments are a bit disjointed and chopped into. So we've got the hybrid tracksuits that look like a double layer tracksuit, with multi-zips. It's that kind of look, slightly lo-fi."
A couple doors down Goldsmith's graduate Jenna Young aka This Is The Uniform had her models eating Snickers' and playing ping pong in string vests and white Reeboks. Jenna had her Instagram account deleted before the #freethenipple movement began and we won't be surprised if a few more users get warnings this weekend after 'gramming her show. "I grew up in Blackpool, a lot of my references are from that," Jenna says in her press release. "It's about the uniform of the tracksuit and the uniform of the streets. It's always about celebrating real girls."
Last but certainly not least was Richard Malone, who presented his wares across two floors in the grandiose townhouse of L'Escargot. Protective plastic was draped over the floor and furnishings, and sculptures created from sugar cubes and tomato ketchup added to Malone's commentary on working-class stereotypes where he is from in Wexford, Ireland.
"I was looking a lot at gender roles where I'm from and that's really evidenced in this cookbook my mum got when she got married, from my grandmother, that her grandmother gave her, and it's all illustrated how to cook and be a wife and I'm like, 'really?! It still exists?'" Malone says over the Sylvia Plath readings playing over the speakers. "I was home for a while making special orders and stuff for people in Ireland, and she had her Argos uniform. A man has to have a polo shirt, and hers was a fitted shirt, boot-cut leg trousers and natural make-up, which is a thing that's not a thing. That was my starting point; how desired that is. Then I did a lot of performative work of my own, performative femininity and what it is. It's very forced, it's not a natural thing at all. That's why I wanted to work with the girls, they've got very minimal make-up on, and they all have careers, like they're artists and writers." Trying everything on himself to make sure it was comfortable, Malone's collection created from overstock and waste material may have had avant-garde silhouettes, but their total lack of body-restriction made them completely wearable.
Text Felicity Kinsella
Photography Jason Lloyd Evans