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London Fashion Week A/W 2011 Exhibition Review

Armed only with her sketchbook and a blagged press pass, ACOFI illustrator Jenny Robins perused the LFW stands for us. Her highlights included novelty hats, kitsch jewellery, birds and some eye-catching dresses.

Written by Jenny Robins

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Most illustrations by Jenny Robins.

I got photographed on my way in to Somerset House (in my jumble sale sheepskin coat belonging to my sister and waistcoat from H&M Kids circa 1999) – expect to see me in Vogue. Not really. The reason I wore the waistcoat was to hide the fact that the little charity shop top I had on underneath with the Peter Pan collar was missing several buttons up the back which continued to pop off as I rushed around London.

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Jordan Askill and Felicity Brown in Jenny Robins’ sketchbook.

After sketching away at the Charlotte Eskildsen exhibition (leather gloves, exciting shapes, draw string leg warmers, see the write up by Jemma Crow which includes my sketches here) and drawing like a mad thing from a sideways view at Jasper Conran’s catwalk show (see my write up and illustrations here) I went for a wander through the New Gen, BFC/Elle talent launch pad and Vauxhall Fashion Scout galleries to take in some static displays and meet some nice publicists and designers. Please see here for your viewing pleasure my sketchbook pages from the day and some additional pictures and commentary.

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Holly Fulton & Christopher Raeburn in Jenny Robins’ sketchbook.

It’s a funny thing to visit these exhibitions on the Saturday (as I did) because half the stuff on show at New Gen is Spring/Summer as the new things are off being catwalked – as it were – or are secret till they have been, and the designers don’t really want you to write about their Spring/Summer stuff yet so sometimes they talk it down. This didn’t stop me from falling in love with the hand perforated yellow leather cocktail dress and skirt by Holly Fulton which were some of the first things I saw. I’ve had a look at her new collection and it isn’t quite as joyful as these two pieces for me but still typically beautiful with her geometric patterns and increasingly incorporating more sinuous art nouveauesque prints too.

Jordan Askill Ceramic Bird Necklace by Madi
Jordan Askill Ceramic Bird Necklace by Madi.

The next thing to really catch my eye was the stunning sculptural jewellery work of Jordan Askill. Anything with a lot of birds in, or let’s face it, just one bird, is a joy for me and Askill’s white resin and nylon swallows *en masse* was perfection itself.

Jordan Askill by Jenny Robins
Jordan Askill by Jenny Robins.

Opposite was Yang Du’s stall with her fabulously kitsch and chic cashmere dolly dresses and capes. These I love, but Yang Du‘s additional arrangement of knitted toy scarves and finger puppet gloves confused me quite a lot. It’s not that I don’t like them, I just don’t see what about them is different from the crafty equivalent you could pick up in a village jumble for probably a fiver, or from a hobbyist on etsy for a bit more, but they are retailing at Selfridges for hundreds of pounds. This is the paradox of lo-fi high fashion.

sketchbook - Yang Du - Mary Katrantzou - Fannie Schiavoni - Piers Atkinson - lfw aw11 - jenny robins
Yang Du, Mary Katrantzou, Fannie Schiavoni & Piers Atkinson in Jenny Robins’ sketchbook.

I didn’t see any of Mary Katrantzou’s amazing collection as it was out on show, but the pieces on show from S/S 2011 still caught my eye: high colour interior prints and tasselled house lamp skirts – I highly recommend taking a look at the review of her A/W 2011 collection here.

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Piers Atkinson by Jenny Robins.

In the riverside lobby downstairs where the cake is, a display of various hats under the title headonism (get it) was sure to catch my attention with Piers Atkinson’s awesome giant cherry headband – he has a wide array of other more and less absurd head accessories including a beanie with giant mickey mouse ear style pompoms, a glittery and 24 carrot gold aubergine head band and various exuberant ostrich feathered creations. Read a longer review of this here.

sketchbook - Lublu Kira Plastina - George Angelopoulos - Yunus & Eliza - Les Nereides - lfw aw11 - jenny robins
Lublu Kira Plastina, George Angelopoulos, Yunus & Eliza & Les Nereides in Jenny Robins’ sketchbook.

At the BFC/Elle Talent Launchpad exhibition space the first thing to pique my curiosity were the jewel like gold plated enamel face crucifixes made by Yunus & Eliza – I say crucifixes, but looking at the website it seems maybe they are not meant to be Christian symbols at all – the ambiguity probably plays to their favour though. While Eliza was wonderfully eloquent about some of their other pieces – which are based on child genius and bird heads (yay, birds) – she didn’t say a lot about what seems to be their signature idea. Good for them I say, spiritual ambiguity should be shiny and beautiful. I was also very impressed by the description the pair gave of their collaborative working – the metamorphosis of their ideas mirroring the themes they play with. I don’t play very well with others so I’m always impressed by successful collaboration. I was also struck by Lublu Kira Plastinina’s novelty oversize zips, as well as her classic mac with giant fur sleeves (boo fur), I drew this to scale (above) to demonstrate the size of the zips.

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Les Nereides, image courtesy of N2

I then spent a good amount of time looking at the beautiful and quirky N2 jewellery collection by Les Nereides and chatting to the lovely Rose and Melissa about fashion week snobbery. The work is gorgeous, a cheaper, kitscher spin off from the intricate work of the main label (although still retailing from £30 – cheaper is high end cheaper of course) featuring designer collaborations, fairytales, French patisserie and large characterful animal necklaces. N2 recently opened their own spin off special store in Monmouth Street. I love it all though similarly to with Yang Du I feel the same conflict brought on by the posh/cute dynamic – I’m just not born to be bothered by quality as much as some, if it’s going to look cheerful and basic, why gold plate it?

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Teatum Jones and N2 llama in Jenny Robins’ sketchbook.

Upstairs I was struck by Teatum Jones’ amazing printed silk Eva Moore Shirt Dress – super delicate and all lilacs and pinks against the utilitarian shapes of the shirt design. Catherine Teatum (who was wearing an amazing silver leather jacket), shared with me how the piece is inspired by two women who worked on the front line during World War I – there was no female uniform for their position so they wore oversized men’s uniform and the floral looking pattern reflects their mud and blood soaked attire. You would not guess this from looking at the dress. But there is that sense of strength and melancholy in the collection – which also includes high waist trench trousers and a heavy caped trench coat cut short as well as more delicate items – that chimes well at the moment. Let us be stoic and feminine, and pull together. I drew the two designers above with their iconic dress. Read more about Teatum Jones in our emerging talent preview.

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Nuerotica by Jenny Robins.

My next love affair was with Neurotica’s A/W 2011 Bright Eyes collection based on Watership Down. Even though the animated film did give me nightmares, especially that bit with the gas in the tunnels, you’ve got to love the foresty, rabbity vibe on show here. I want almost everything in this collection, from the chunky quilted collars to the amazing strapless jumpsuit – all sporting some kind of atmospheric winter branch print. A little bit gothic in sentiment, but so clean and feminine in the shapes. Yeah I super love it actually. Their S/S 2011 stuff is pretty brilliant too. Look out for it.

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Little Glass Clementine & Neurotica in Jenny Robins’ sketchbook.

Then I strayed into Estethica and met Little Glass Clementine (as featured in ACOFI!) who puts together all sorts of oddments and icons in her maximalist jewellery, not so much of a collection because each piece is a one off, but there are emerging themes. I especially enjoyed the stop-watch elements and the pieces of blue and white tiles incorporated into some of the necklaces.

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Pachacuti by Jenny Robins.

I was also impressed by Pachacuti’s array of colourful ethical panama hats made by women’s collectives in Ecuador. Apparently they were doing it before it was all trendy.

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Ginta & Anthony Peto in Jenny Robins’ sketchbook.

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Tatty Devine by Jenny Robins.

I also enjoyed a sneak peek at Tatty Devine’s forthcoming new collections, which feature pieces inspired by owls, ivy, foxes, sycamore seeds and chunky oldschool brogues. All very fun, with the organic subtlety of some of these new designs blending softly with their Perspex shapes – perfect in the new matt frosted Perspex used for some of these. I like the foxes and ivy especially, mature yet whimsical showing that Tatty Devine is growing from strength to strength. Also featured were an upcoming footwear collaboration with the Old Curiosity Shop – adding Perspex moustaches to their shoes.

Ginta Siceva Masks by Madi
Ginta Siceva Masks by Madi.

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Ginta by Jenny Robins

Ginta’s lovely lazer cut intricate accessories layer leather flowers, and were almost as stunning as the designer herself.

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Image courtesy of Ginta

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Erika Trotzig & Una Burke in Jenny Robins’ sketchbook.

As extensively covered elsewhere on Amelia’s Magazine, I also found myself struck by Una Burke’s prosthetics inspired pieces and wet plate photography at Vauxhall Fashion Scout. High concept bondage, beautifully put together – all by hand because apparently the riveter has not been made that can rivet so many layers of leather, so more art than fashion really. Exploring how people with prosthetics (like disfigurements) find they often lose their identity when all people see is their unusual limbs, the work is successful I think – you certainly would notice a Una Burke outfit more than the person inside it.

In the small amount of time left before I headed into the Vauxhall Fashion Scout exhibition, where I drew two stunning dresses and the designers who created them:

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Nicole Murray & Edward Finney in Jenny Robins’ sketchbook.

Edward Finney’s work here is amazingly fluid yet sculptural, the silhouette is so long and sumptuous, and I love the matter of fact shapes of the bodice. Classy yet daring. All that stuff.

Nicole Murray’s dress by comparison is an absolute delight of softness and intricacy. The classic long gown underneath the gorgeous lace shift covers the wearer almost completely, yet seems very naked and unearthly. She was also beautiful.

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Nicole Murray. Photo courtesy of h.prlondon

Of the three shows I enjoyed the vibe at Freemasons Hall the most… it may have been the venue but it just felt far more relaxed and refined. The toilets were also very nice.

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The Fashion Mode crowd in Jenny Robins’ sketchbook.


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One Response to “London Fashion Week A/W 2011 Exhibition Review”

  1. Love Nicole Murray’s stuff too, def one to watch!

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