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London Fashion Week S/S 2011 Exhibition Review: Eley Kishimoto Collaborations

Eley Kishimoto launch a series of collaborations applying their iconic FLASH print to various products in a temporary exhibition at Shoreditch Studios. Oh, and there was the small matter of an impromptu talk with Mark Eley and Neville Brody…

Written by Naomi Law

If you’ve seen Amelia’s post about Charlie le Mindu’s show yesterday, about it you’ll already know what you’re in for. But allow me to indulge myself because we can’t possibly harp on enough about this show…

When I was a lad, salve Sundays were reserved for attending church (occasionally), watching The Waltons and generally relaxing or playing with my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures. My, how things have changed. My most recent Sunday – yesterday – was spent gawking at vaginas. Bit of a difference, eh?

I absolutely love Charlie le Mindu, that’s no secret and I recently had the chance to have a chat with him. He’s a welcome addition to the London Fashion Week line-up in that he has absolutely no shame and heaps of creative and daring talent.

Last season’s show was a spectacle enough, and my imagination had run wild with what he might show this season (little did I know he’d show literally EVERYTHING this bloody season).

As the show started and the first model appeared to excited whoops, I thought – hmmm, I like it, it is fun; love that candy-floss pink porno wig, love the lamp on her head, that human hair mankini she’s just about wearing is daring, could have done with a bit of work around the bikini line though, love. But overall, I was a teeny tiny bit disappointed. Well, I need not have been.

When the first absolutely starkers model appeared, wearing only a huge brimmed hat and carrying a fabulous purse in the crook of her arm, I actually caught myself mouthing OH MY GOD. To myself. Exaggeratedly. I was, yet again, rendered speechless. He’d done it – he’d dared to do what few others would; he’d shocked us in a ‘OMG-she-has-no-hair-down-there’ kind of way. I haven’t seen one of them for years and after yesterdays show, I’d like never to see one again, please. That’s enough for me. You can keep ‘em, ta very much.

What I most adore about Mr le Mindu is that his shows aren’t really about fashion. They’re about style. Style, not in the sense of what’s on trend this season blah blah blah, but about taking an idea and really making it exciting.

After last season’s sexed up religious collection, it seems this season was all about porn stars – an homage, in fact, to the ladies of the adult movie industry of Los Angeles. Hence tacky candy-floss wigs, crude bob cuts, sassy curls that covered bare chests (what is it with me and nudity this fashion week? Totally wasted on me), cartoon-like tailoring (in a good way) and the show piece which was a huge pink perspex Hollywood sign hat. As you do.

Even though I seem to be doing it a lot this season, it’s not fair just to go on about the quantity of arse and tit, because I actually think that Charlie’s more modest creations (modest in the sense that they cover said arse and tit, not modest in a conservative way) are exemplary. The flamingo halter-neck number with a huge bum and the floor-length numbers that cacoon models from head to toe are nothing short of genius. They’re totally unique on an somewhat perpetual catwalk line-up.

Oh, who am I kidding. This is sex, sex, sex at it’s best. Oh, what fun! I bloody loved it and I am counting the days until Charlie’s A/W 2011 show already. Can I suggest, though, that you cover up the see you next Tuesdays next time, purlease? Maybe with the odd human-hair merkin? Oh, the irony…

Illustration by Stéphanie Thieullent

I love the Portico Rooms at Somerset House. Up an elaborate sweeping staircase, website here lies a relatively small room in which I’ve seen some of my favourite presentations: Lou Dalton’s salon show a year ago, more about both this and last season’s Orla Kiely presentations, story and now Craig Lawrence’s presentation this weekend.

Presentations are my preferred preference to catwalk shows. You don’t have to fight for a seat, you can see the clothing and craftsmanship in close-up (particularly applicable with Craig’s astonishing knitwear) and, most importantly, they always have cakes.

This was no exception – just look at this table packed with the stuff. Delicious! Shame I decided on a cream-filled whoopie rather than something edible in front of fashion folk like a delicious slice of tiffin. Cue cream-covered chops, sloppy eating and and a general unfashionable mess. Ah, well.

Craig’s presentation was simple but oh so elegant. Three models perched around sculptural furniture wearing his latest offerings. I wonder how the pay-scale for models differs between catwalks and presentations? Surely sashaying to the end of a runway, striking a pose and then walking back is far easier than having people with zoom lenses oggle your pores and walk in circles around you? It’s a wonder they don’t fall over. They are good at looking into your camera though. Look at this one! She wurrrrks it. Give her a pay rise!

Craig Lawrence has quickly established himself as a man of exquisite craftsmanship, skill and style. I simply adore these floor length knitted numbers. Seeing them up close, you really develop an appreciation for the quality. I imagine that the wool he uses is of a high calibre, but staring closely at his pieces is quite something – hypnotic weaves create beautiful, rich textures.

Illustration by Stéphanie Thieullent

The colours were industrial and pewter was the mainstay, with the occasion flourish of varying greens and white. This all white number rustled as the model moved around the room, and it’s only when you see garments like this move that you realise their full potential. She does look a bit like she’s been through a paper shredder, though. God I hope she hadn’t.

Also on display was a strikingly beautiful and somewhat haunting film, which was actually all I thought I was going to see – the static models were a massive bonus. The black and white film was shot by Ben Toms and styled by Dazed & Confused’s Katie Shillingford. Bloody hard to photograph.

At first glance, it appeared to be a collection of photographs – a model stands stock still in a variety of poses on rocks and in the sea. It’s only when you watch for a little while you realise it is actually a film – you notice the hair flickering slightly from the wind, or the almost still waves of the ocean moving back and forth. It really brought the collection to life. Plus it was edited beautifully – by our own Sally Mumby Croft, no less!

You can see the film (and I suggest you do) here.

All photography by Matt Bramford

After their popular ‘Pattern Lab’ presentation in February, see I’ve been keen to see Eley Kishimoto’s offering this Fashion Week.

‘Flash On Week’ is presented in association with London Fashion Week, London Design Festival and the Anti-design Festival. The exhibition at Shoreditch Studios showcases a collection of products that have all been adorned with the iconic Eley Kishimoto ‘Flash’ print.

The print was first used on garments in the Spring Summer 2001 collection and has since crept across all manner of products. A shot taken for their look book with a Flash fabric backdrop spawned the idea of producing the pattern as wallpaper. This led to crockery and glassware, followed by numerous collaborations with electronics and automotive manufacturers.

‘Flash’ has evolved into a sort of anti-monogram – distinctive and widely-used, but only recognisable as Eley Kishimoto to those familiar with the label, as there is no hint of a logo or branding.

Mark Eley says that Flash has ‘created a dialogue that perhaps would not have been reached simply through fashion’. It is a seasonless, non-gender-specific print that can seemingly be applied to anything whilst still looking fresh.

Playing with the scale and spacing of the motif adds another dimension – larger Flashes resemble lightning strikes, whilst smaller forms provide a kind of optical illusion as the motifs seem to reverberate against eachother.

Shoreditch Studios is housed under disused railway arches hidden behind Curtain Road, and provided a suitably atmospheric space to display the monochrome collection. I loved the exhibition build – everything in the otherwise dimly lit room was displayed on huge ‘Flash’ motifs under spotlights.

The first product in the display was a Cinelli Supercorsa bike, which EK had bedecked in ‘Flash’ in their typically subversive style – disguising the signature details of this classic frame (any bike aficionados reading probably already know this refers to chromed lugs and fastback stays, probably the first and last mention of those you’ll find at London Fashion Week).

The bike is displayed with a short film from the Bicycle Film Festival, (which will be running from October 13th- 17th at The Barbican) and matching jersey and cap.

Next up Eley Kishimoto joined forces with Noble Macmillan on an edition of 500 British-made leather journals. These feature three sections of plain, lined and squared paper, gold and silver ribbons and Flash printed covers and end pages.

Also given the Flash treatment were cases from Incase for MacBooks, iPads and iPhones. Sadly I’m lacking any of the gadgets these have been for, but they will apparently be in stores soon.

Glasses from Duvel showing Flash at the smallest end of the scale.

Just as we were about to leave, we were told that a talk was about to begin and decided to hang around. I think there were only around ten of us sitting at the back of the space, waiting for four empty chairs in front of us to be filled. After a few minutes, who else should casually stroll in than Mark Eley, announcing that he would presenting ‘more of an informal conversation between friends’. I wasn’t the only member of the audience wide-eyed with surprise.

The group consisted of Neville Brody (a.k.a. The King of Graphic Design), Martin J Tickner (Sleazenation) and Jack Dyson (Wired). Neville Brody instigated the first Anti-design Festival this year, and this dominated most of the conversation that followed. The festival has labelled itself ‘a response to 25 years of cultural deep freeze’, with events taking place in eleven venues around Shoreditch from September 18th – 26th. Find out more about the festival here.

All photography by Naomi Law


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