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London Fashion Week: Unconditional – The World To Come

Mary Ward House, Holborn, 15/2/08

Written by Amy Knight

Danish born Louise Amstrup made her London Fashion Week debut at On/Off on the concluding day of the bi-annual trend event.


For AW08 Amstrup took inspiration from film director David Lynch and the modernist artist Man Ray. Interpreting the surreal representations of mysterious women in Lynch’s films and TV drama Twin Peaks, salve this Amstrup combines their perfection and dark hidden agendas and the mood of Man Ray’s art with the surreal ‘reverse negative prints’.

The powerful music began, the bright lights lit up and astute looking women took to the catwalk. Two graphically sharp and nipped in, belted coats were the initial pieces in a collection of lavish clothes. Strictly constructed surreal and dreamy draping was contradicted by hints of chiffon, leather, wool and silk. Striking exaggerated folding methods and pleats erratically, and imaginatively cropped up here and there. Detail also took place in the form of tassels and fringing on garments, as well as on scarves and shoes. Oversized bags, killer heels and a turban headscarf acted as accessories. There was a satisfying colour palette ranging from cream and bran tones leading to dark and dusty blues, greys, burnt ochre and plum with black.

A surprising pair of trousers made the odd appearance- surprising not because this was a collection primarily comprising of skirts and dresses but because they were rather peculiar in their own right. Ill fitted, high wasted, wishy washey cream and jodhpur-esque, these trousers are going to be my only criticism in this otherwise pleasant show. I was also taken aback by Amstrup’s treatment of her models- alluring long hair was shaved right up the back of the partings! Surely this couldn’t be the case I thought to myself, then again it is the final day of LFW, and one can do whatever one pleases to these model’s barnets now right? But then this is only newee Amstrup’s show, not Vivienne Westwood’s. It took three or four models for me to realise that this expected extremist haircut was merely just a cunning hairdo and that no hair clippers were involved in the making- just clever hair stylists.

Welcome to London Fashion Week Louise Amstrup, a superbly talented designer making dreamy yet simultaneously powerful and shocking wearable works of art.

The invitation to the Aganovich A/W show promised a Valentine’s Day massacre. From that moment I knew this show would definitely not be short on theatricality. Once seated, information pills the mood music that had been piped in to calm the frantic diva nerves of the industry elite morphed into a pounding heartbeat. I was on edge. Then the strains of Frank Sinatra singing You’re Sensational began, seek and out stepped…a bride. This was a little surreal, especially as it was more like a conventional Home Counties bride and not some sexed up Quentin Tarantino version. Quizzical looks flitted across the front row as she swanned down the catwalk, but these were soon quieted as she made her exit and breakbeats set in. Once the ironic Valentine’s Day gesture was over, the real show began.
The archetypal bridal up-do was exaggerated on the Aganovich models to create a modern and subversive take on this classic style. Hair was either quiffed, or the fringe was styled to cover one eye. The make-up paired copious amounts of gold and silver face paint with Clockwork Orange style lashes. It was Grace Kelly in High Society meets Blade Runner.
The strong silhouettes created by the tailored jackets and military coats complemented the hair and make-up as shoulders were defined and padded out. Gold zips and chinoiserie prints brought some flashes of colour into the rather dark collection, while the traditional set of pearls worn by a bride was re-imagined into a half beaded dress.
The Aganovich label has always been intent on exploring paradox in its collections, and A/W was no different as silk dresses were finished with snakeskin detailing and sharp tailoring was created using cashmere. Two things made this show memorable. One being the willingness with which Aganovich desire to push boundaries, and the other being that the chosen soundtrack meant I got to mention breakbeats in a review.


Yorkshire tea and quintessentially British cake preceded a long and tedious wait for ‘the world to come’. But the setup was unusual, here which I appreciated; the audience was divided into three rooms, so the models glided through from one to the next like a strange narrative when they eventually emerged. They were an embodiment of old English country-dwelling aristocracy, carrying books in their leather-bound palms and live chiuauas in their arms, harking back to a classic past yet obscuring it in a slightly vampire-like manner. All the models had a groomed, Dickensian look, pale, preened and ghostly, which echoed in the shuddering orchestral music. There were shawls that looped around the crown of the head, huge lapels, a cow-hide jacket, enormous, decadent floral corsages and tights the colour of Colman’s mustard. Sitting on wooden chairs in the fitting location of the Mary Ward House, a listed turn-of-the-century building, it felt like we were part of a 1930s English murder mystery film. Close-fitting black and maroon leather gloves made a frequent appearance, as did red netting draped elegantly over the shoulders. Peacock feathers poked out of the men’s trilby hats, over shining quiffs of brown hair, while the women were surmounted with red satin tiaras. A dazzling performance.

Unconditional share their marketing budget “with those whose lives are fragile”, and their funds support Save The Children.


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One Response to “London Fashion Week: Unconditional – The World To Come”

  1. Charlotte says:

    This show sounds great! Ooh and liking the cake link, might have to pull that idea off when I next bake…

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