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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

London Fashion Week S/S 2011 Catwalk Review: Ashley Isham

It was a right old romp at Ashley Isham's S/S 2011 show at On|Off on Friday 17 September. Camp disco meets body-conscious exoticism… with illustrations by Zarina Liew

Written by Matt Bramford


Paul Costelloe S/S 2011, illness illustrated by Natsuki Otani

So the circus has begun, adiposity the Big Top (the BFC Marquee) is up surrounded by bizarrely dressed clowns, this and trapeze artists swing from the roof of Somerset House. Okay, that last one isn’t true, but you get the picture!

I haven’t had a bloody chance to write anything yet, and Amelia has beaten me to it with a review of fashion week S/S 2011′s opener – Paul Costelloe. But, while I have the chance, I thought I’d throw my tuppence worth in, too.
 
For the past six years, Paul Costelloe has had the rather unenviable task of opening the proceedings. I arrived super early, as I always do – I woke up actually asking if Santa had been, I was so excited I presumed it must be Christmas. Anyway, I joined the queue for Costelloe, in which the mean age must have been approximately 68. It was a crimplene snake. These lovely old dears were desperate to get inside (I suppose you can never be too careful, especially in this chilly weather) and, rather unfashionably, we were ushered inside on time.


 
Now I am familiar with Costelloe’s work, but the relationship between his collections and his audience totally and uttrerly baffles me. One by one, the first models of S/S 2011 strutted down the catwalk wearing fresh, well cut and contemporary clothes. So why do grannies in knits flock to see this? I got chatting to two gorgeous old dears who, with their enthusiastic clapping and cheering, almost threatened to steal my attention from the show. They thought every frock was ‘bloody gorgeous’ and cries of ‘Oooh, that’s STUNNING’ were heard from all sides.


My two lovely ladies, on the right during the finale


illustrated by Natsuki Otani

The show itself was a treat from start to finish, for a number of reasons. The styling was great, with bright red lipstick, back-combed hair piled atop models heads (a look Costelloe is famed for) and the soundtrack was summery and fun, featuring Eliza Doolittle’s recent hit Pack Up.

The clothes were wonderful, featuring contemporary curves with emphasis on waists, oversized bows and playful graphic prints. Such fun. I particularly like everything about this following model and her outfit, whose face and hair do reminded me of Evangelista in naughty George Michael’s Too Funky video.
 

The show, however, had the most bizarre ending. Six awkward looking blokes dressed to the nines in suits cautiously eased their way up the catwalk. They all looked alike and I instantly guessed that they were brothers. It turns out Mr Costelloe isnt just good at fashion, he also is a dab hand and breeding too. If you’ve already read Amelia’s review, then apologies, but SIX SONS! Bloody hell! SIX SONS! Imagine. My dad has four and went grey in his thirties. I can only imagine that Paul Costelloe is a devout Catholic or didn’t have a television at home. How does he find the time to produce such an exciting and polished collection with this sextet? Lord knows.

I’m with Amelia on the menswear – I probably wouldn’t wear it and it’s a long way away from the masses of creative talent we’ll see on menswear day next week. But, if his collections develop like his womenswear has over the seasons, I’m sure I’ll be changing my mind pretty swiftly!


Paul Costelloe menswear, illustrated to look far better than it was, by Natsuki Otani


Paul Costelloe S/S 2011, patient illustrated by Natsuki Otani

So the circus has begun, the Big Top (the BFC Marquee) is up surrounded by bizarrely dressed clowns, and trapeze artists swing from the roof of Somerset House. Okay, that last one isn’t true, but you get the picture!

I haven’t had a bloody chance to write anything yet, and Amelia has beaten me to it with a review of fashion week S/S 2011′s opener – Paul Costelloe. But, while I have the chance, I thought I’d throw my tuppence worth in, too.
 
For the past six years, Paul Costelloe has had the rather unenviable task of opening the proceedings. I arrived super early, as I always do – I woke up actually asking if Santa had been, I was so excited I presumed it must be Christmas. Anyway, I joined the queue for Costelloe, in which the mean age must have been approximately 68. It was a crimplene snake. These lovely old dears were desperate to get inside (I suppose you can never be too careful, especially in this chilly weather) and, rather unfashionably, we were ushered inside on time.


 
Now I am familiar with Costelloe’s work, but the relationship between his collections and his audience totally and uttrerly baffles me. One by one, the first models of S/S 2011 strutted down the catwalk wearing fresh, well cut and contemporary clothes. So why do grannies in knits flock to see this? I got chatting to two gorgeous old dears who, with their enthusiastic clapping and cheering, almost threatened to steal my attention from the show. They thought every frock was ‘bloody gorgeous’ and cries of ‘Oooh, that’s STUNNING’ were heard from all sides.


My two lovely ladies, on the right during the finale


illustrated by Natsuki Otani

The show itself was a treat from start to finish, for a number of reasons. The styling was great, with bright red lipstick, back-combed hair piled atop models heads (a look Costelloe is famed for) and the soundtrack was summery and fun, featuring Eliza Doolittle’s recent hit Pack Up.

The clothes were wonderful, featuring contemporary curves with emphasis on waists, oversized bows and playful graphic prints. Such fun. I particularly like everything about this following model and her outfit, whose face and hair do reminded me of Evangelista in naughty George Michael’s Too Funky video.
 

The show, however, had the most bizarre ending. Six awkward looking blokes dressed to the nines in suits cautiously eased their way up the catwalk. They all looked alike and I instantly guessed that they were brothers. It turns out Mr Costelloe isnt just good at fashion, he also is a dab hand and breeding too. If you’ve already read Amelia’s review, then apologies, but SIX SONS! Bloody hell! SIX SONS! Imagine. My dad has four and went grey in his thirties. I can only imagine that Paul Costelloe is a devout Catholic or didn’t have a television at home. How does he find the time to produce such an exciting and polished collection with this sextet? Lord knows.

I’m with Amelia on the menswear – I probably wouldn’t wear it and it’s a long way away from the masses of creative talent we’ll see on menswear day next week. But, if his collections develop like his womenswear has over the seasons, I’m sure I’ll be changing my mind pretty swiftly!


Paul Costelloe menswear, illustrated to look far better than it was, by Natsuki Otani


Ashley Isham S/S 2011, more about illustrated by Zarina Liew

Late afternoon it was the turn of Ashley Isham to display his wares for S/S 2011 at the On|Off venue, this web Victoria House. Amelia had beaten me there by bike (natch) and so I made my way in and joined the back of the queue. Amelia tried to persuade me to push to the front (by text) but I’m the world’s biggest scaredy cat at fashion week and so stayed where I was. On this occasion, it actually didn’t matter – I shoved my way to get a good standing spot, from where I could take pics. As I did I noticed a fashion palaver going on at the first corner of the horse-shaped catwalk. The paps were in a frenzy to capture a shot of somebody who I could only see from the back, and who was wearing a ridiculous cap that I can only describe as a disco-themed tribute to the Pontiff’s zucchetto. It turns out it was Paloma Faith.

As somebody minced down the catwalk explaining that Ashley was desperate to start and was getting bored (we were already running over half an hour late) the team soon sprang into action to get the show on its way.


Illustration by Zarina Liew

Ashley Isham is famed for his red-carpet dresses that many a celebrity is fond of. I hadn’t actually seen one of his shows before, but I was totally impressed. With so much doom and gloom and many of the designers playing it safe and producing muted, basic collections, thank heavens for Ashley Isham. Camp is an understatement with these fabulous headpieces, over-embellished frocks, glitter, sparkles, crystals, feathers, ruffles, beads and jewels. Now I know where Strictly Come Dancing gets its ideas from.

With a disco soundtrack including Wham! and The Hues Corporation, I was left desperate to grab one of the models and pay homage to Saturday Night Fever with a jazzy disco waltz.

I have no idea how to write about this collection without banging on about how wonderfully camp it was. Where to start? Well, key themes were bare shoulders, maxi-length floor sweepers, fishtail hems, silky fabrics and as much haberdashery-shop-hoard you can throw on something without actually going blind. Isham’s numbers ooze sex appeal and he’s clearly a fan of the female form. These dresses are made to emphasise the top half and the waist, and body-conscience is always key.

Wonderful headpieces constructed of artificial flowers made models look extremely exotic, and they were by far my favourite thing in the show.

I’m really struggling here. I love it, but I’m lost for words. It was utterly bonkers. You can see it all in the pictures anyway.

Colours and patterns were a bit all over the place, and while I wouldn’t want to knock this collection, if I had to I’d say it wouldn’t hurt to be a little more coherent. But when frocks make these alien-like creatures we call models look sexy, who cares?

Photographs: Matt Bramford

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