what to look out for at london fashion week autumn/winter 19
Including i-D’s new and very exciting daily podcast.
Asai. Photography Alexandra Leese.
Opening up LFW this season is one of favourite young designers -- Asai, making his solo catwalk show debut, having just graduated from Fashion East. We’ve been a massive fan of A Sai Ta since we first laid eyes on his work back in 2017. Over four seasons of mentorship at Lulu Kennedy’s ridiculously prolific talent incubator (literally everyone you creatively respect in British fashion has come under her wing at some point) the British-Chinese-Vietnamese designer’s work has matured and improved and come-of-age. He’s played with and explored his heritage from the beginning, but each season he’s found new emotional depths, honed his silhouettes and fine-tuned his creative experimentations. He’s had an eye for a must-have product from the beginning (those tie dyed exposed-seamed, cut-and-paste tops all the cute It Girls you follow on Instagram wear? They’re Asai) but what’s he going to do next, making the jump into the big, bad, fabulous fashion world? Swim, we imagine.
At Fashion East, Gareth Wrighton is stepping into the space Asai has vacated. Gareth’s a designer we’ve been following for a while now, he’s regularly popped up in the pages of i-D since graduating from CSM, where he studied Fashion Communication and Promotion, rather than the traditional fashion design. He’s worked with the likes of Tim Walker and Ib Kamara, making crafty, homespun knitwear, mainly, with a psychedelic, folkloric edge. It’ll be very exciting to see how he translates all this into a full collection.
Rounding off the season’s new faces, are some not so new faces, really. Namely Grace Wales Bonner and Symonds Pearmain. Grace is switching over from the menswear schedule, and Symonds Pearmain are returning, having previously staged presentations and even hopping on the back of a Fashion East show to showcase their fashions. Firstly Grace, who is showing at the Serpentine as the concluding part of her recently opened exhibition, which lay bare her research and outside-of-fashion interests in an exhibition. Showcasing the poetic depth and intellectual beauty of what Grace does. It makes sense for her to showcase on the womenswear schedule, of course, as there’s always been a fluidity to what she’s done.
Symonds Pearmain are one of the most interesting labels to emerge in London in recent years. The product of designer Anthony Symonds and stylist Max Pearmain, they have tapped into something fun, satirical, joyful and intellectual. They’ve got an artistic aesthetic rigour that sets them apart from almost everything else going on in the city right now. Most importantly their shows have a sense of unexpected occasion, whether it’s their muse Lily McMenamy miming, or a soundtrack tribute to the can-can, or down to the fashion itself, it’s always exciting to see what they are dreaming up.
Also returning to the schedule this season is Pringle, which is in fine creative form under Fran Stringer at the moment. What they do isn’t complicated -- beautiful, luxurious, knitwear -- but Fran has made this old brand feel very modern, very new, very now. It’ll be exciting to see it back on the catwalk.
Elsewhere on the London schedule, some of the shows we are most looking forward to represent an emerging new class in London. If the city is famed for Youth! Newness! Experimentation! Wild! Conceptual! Fashion! then there are a few designers we’re head over heels for who don’t slavishly tick all those boxes. Designers like Molly Goddard, Simone Rocha, and Matty Bovan, who are really defining the city’s fashion output at the moment. These are young-ish, big-ish labels, making idiosyncratic clothes that feel honest and true, rather than commercially minded and boring. Each of these shows will be a treat to see.
But the headline acts? Well we should start with the return of Vivienne Westwood, after a few seasons of presentations, British Fashion’s Grand Old Rebel is back on the catwalk. Riccardo Tisci’s Burberry reinvention continues, following on from his spring/summer 19, 135-look opus, we’re excited to see what he conjures up for round two. If the pre-fall follow up is anything to go by: more cross-generational Burberry luxury for everyone!
And finally, if you are wondering just how you will keep on top of all this exciting fashion, well you are very lucky, because i-D is doing a daily podcast over London Fashion Week. Going live each morning, featuring interviews, reviews, chat, opinions, insight, and more! Subscribe now.