robyn lynch, mowalola and stefan cooke's fashion east extravaganza
Though very different in their aesthetics, the trio all carried the Fashion East torch for thought-provoking and fresh new designs.
It was passion, pride and love for her culture that first attracted Fashion East Director Lulu Kennedy to Dublin-born Robyn Lynch. And, for her debut show as part of the prestigious talent incubator, the recent University of Westminster grad didn’t disappoint.
This was a show inseparable from its designer’s back story: inspired by both her dad’s style, as well as archive footage of players and fans of The Dublin GAA (or Gaelic games played within the Dublin region, for the uninitiated).
“It’s that crowd, that camaraderie. How would they wear that now, if that boy, those men, were here right now?” Robyn says, in the show’s notes, answering the question with her own take on The Boys in Blue.
Working, as she did in her graduate collection, entirely in block colours -- and, again, with the Aran knit that made that show so distinctive -- Robyn pushed her already impressively well-formed signatures further, crafting high-belted jeans, fleece-lined shorts, and a sharp zip-up jacket in waterproof Ventile cotton.
Clothes your da would like as well as the lads down Croke Park? How’s that for camaraderie. Text Matthew Whitehouse
When asked about the aesthetic direction of her next collection, for the winter issue of i-D, British-Nigerian designer Mowalola Ogunlesi said it would be “Sex. More Sex. More Sexy”. She wasn’t lying. Her London Fashion Week debut and first show on the Fashion East roster revelled in its own highly-charged, full-throttle sexiness and abso-fucking-lutely owned it.
Thigh high boots met barely-there-miniskirts, low-riding trousers met unbuttoned open shirts. Thong straps were visible, shirts were spliced open across the chest to reveal flashes of skin or her already signature lo-fi tie dye. Trench coats were angular and shiny, in lurid neon reds and deep maroons, Lea Colombo’s erotic imagery splashed across them. “I’m interested in exposure -- whether that’s emotional exposure, showing your skin, or becoming fully vulnerable -- and the idea of expressing that through the way that you dress,” Mowalola explained in her show notes.
Men’s and women’s looks moved seamlessly together to create a combined aesthetic that was so fluid, so unconventional, fresh and modern that you’d barely see the point of dividing shows by gender ever again. These were clothes to go out in, get off in, stay out all night in. It was confident, well-executed and brought something entirely needed to a very buttoned-up LFWM. Anything that gets a standing ovation from Skepta, who sat front row next to Kim Jones, is worth getting excited about. Text Ryan White
And so the fabled headline slot fell, this season, to West Sussex-born designer Stefan Cooke, whose third time on the Fashion East merry go round, brought with it a sense of thoughtful contemplation (albeit a celebratory one of diamante and giant party streamers).
Joined, as ever, by his partner of seven years and fellow CSM-grad Jake Burt, this was the talented pair giving us one last run through the hits before they went off into the big, wide, post-Fashion East world: the chainmail from last season, the transparent handbags we saw in previous collections.
While the show was as subtle and as clever as we’ve come to expect from the brand -- the already trademark trompe l’oeil and skillful tailoring were both present and correct -- there was an inner steeliness to it all too: most notably in the armour-like coats and the knits, which featured an image, taken from a 1950s book found in a charity shop, of girls playing hockey, their sticks replaced, for this collection, by swords.
Goodbye but not goodbye for Stefan Cooke and Jake Burt, then, departing the Fashion East line-up with their most refined, saleable and impressive show yet. Text Matthew Whitehouse