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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

London Fashion Week S/S 2011 Exhibition Review: Headonism

Florence Massey delves into Headonism at the Embankment Galleries with stunning creations from Piers Atkinson, J Smith Esquire and Little Shilpa! Illustrations by Kellie Black and Yelena Bryksenkova complete the creative explosion of talent...

Written by Florence Massey

Illustration of Piers Atkinson by Kellie Black

The Headonism exhibition is hidden in the Embankment Galleries on the lower ground floor of Somerset house, behind the BFC tent. I’ve been down there twice, once on Thursday and once yesterday – and both times it seemed very under attended. Actually, all the exhibitions around the scrum of the registration area seem very quiet but they are all well worth a look, even if it is just to take a closer look at some of the collections as I did upstairs for Louise Amstrup.

Curated by milliner extraordinaire Stephen Jones, the Headonism exhibition is all about the hats and is the only section of London Fashion Week exclusively catering to the headwear market. There are only five exhibitors: J Smith, Little Shilpa, Noel Stewart, Piers Atkinson and Soren Bach, but the difference between the stands is remarkable. Disappointingly, the Soren Bach stand has no one looking after it, nor does Little Shilpa – merely a book to leave details in.

The only exhibitor to have put any real effort into their display is Piers Atkinson…but more on him later. The importance of showcasing your wares appropriately at London Fashion Week is shockingly something that many have left to the last minute. Read Katie Antoniou’s post on all the exhibitions to find out who did it well this year.

Illustration of J Smith Esquire by Kellie Black

We were lucky enough to interview two of the exhibitors prior to the show, the first was J Smith Esquire. His exhibit is immediately to your right as you enter the exhibition, displaying his most recent foray into the high street market with a Mister Smith display of flat pack hats in colourful cut out leather. He told us about the collection: ‘Mister Smith is designed to be robust, accessible, affordable millinery with high design values, so everyone can have a J Smith Esquire hat’.

Photograph from Mister Smith collection by Florence Massey

Mixing together the ready-to-wear and couture, J Smiths talent shines with his main collections, the most recent entitled ‘Illuminated’ is sure to be as highly impressive as his previous efforts. The new collection promises to be VERY eclectic, ‘(it’s) inspired by vintage Italian fashion papers to create a modern-day Edwardian couture, and yes, expect a very colourful collection!’

Illustration of Little Shilpa by Yelena Bryksenkova

Little Shilpa’s stand is on each side as you exit the exhibition space, and displays an array of great headpieces, necklaces and hats. His work is crazy, but in a good way. The designs are definitely not for the wallflowers among us, something crystalised by his naming Bjork as a dream customer!

With an Indian heritage it is unsurprising to hear that the inspiration for his Headonism show picks up on this , ‘the pieces were inspired from Bombay and London, there was an obvious juxtaposition of the 2 cities …all the pieces were specially created for Headonism as it was my first formal showing in London hence a sort of introduction to my inspirations’.

Photograph of J Shilpa by Florence Massey

Little Shilpa agrees with Piers Atkinson’s very true comment that millinery has finally become more about having fun rather than the obligatory weddings and funerals, ‘working out of India it has always been about fun and design’. Long may that continue!

Talking of Piers Atkinson and the move away from wedding/funeral hats his stand is fantastic. More of an exploded flower stall mixed with Hollywood clichés and mini people, I spent a-g-e-s peering at every single one of his creations. With lots of green felt, and miniature people Atkinson definitely taps into the fun side of millinery and his collection is so good: silly, energetic and vibrant. Spilling with colours and quirks, the Hollywood sign features heavily, as do clashing flowers and little gold spikes. If you want a break from the oh so serious fashion upstairs at BFC, pop down to Atkinson’s stand for a giggle.

Illustration of Piers Atkinson by Kellie Black

Photograph of Piers Atkinson by Florence Massey

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