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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Shao Yen: London Fashion Week A/W 2012 Catwalk Review

We review Central Saint Martin’s graduate Shao Yen’s exquisitely minimal presentation for A/W 2012, shown at the Freemason’s Hall on Saturday the 18th of February, 2012.

Written by Alia Gargum

Shao Yen A/W 2012 by Dana Bocai

Shao Yen A/W 2012 by Dana Bocai

Taiwanese-born Shao Yen is no stranger to success. This knitwear graduate has caught the eye of other designers such as Nicola Formichetti, created a bespoke dress for dress-up queen, Bjork, and has been showing at London Fashion Week ever since his graduate Central Saint Martin’s MA show for A/W 2010.

Shao Yen AW 2012 by Amelia Gregory
Shao Yen A/W 2012 by Alia Gargum
Shao Yen A/W 2012 by Amelia Gregory

As soon as I was directed to one of the spacious upstairs rooms at The Freemason’s Hall, I knew this presentation would be an altogether more relaxed affair than the dizzying thrills of earlier catwalk shows. If you’ve never visited the venue before, I would recommend it. Vauxhall Fashion Scout has used the iconic Art Deco building for their off-schedule shows for ages, and with good reason. The high ceilings, beautifully decorated walls and marble floors set the tone for equally enticing clothes.

Shao Yen A/W 2012 by Gaarte

Shao Yen A/W 2012 by Gaarte

As I passed through large doors into the presentation space, I think I audibly sighed in delight of what I saw. Several models stood on plain white podiums, beautifully lit, while a cello player produced soothing classical melodies, setting a relaxed yet formal tone. Although the room was busy, it was a visual treat to be able to come up close and admire a collection. At London Fashion Week, you become used to models practically running past on the catwalk, while you desperately try to take everything in over blaring music and not much room to breathe. For this presentation, it was the audience who couldn’t keep still, moving around the models that posed for every single photographer.

Shao Yen A/W 2012 by Alia Gargum
Shao Yen A/W 2012 by Alia Gargum
Shao Yen A/W 2012 by Alia Gargum
Shao Yen A/W 2012 by Alia Gargum

What I loved most about this collection was the mix of themes. Upper-class met underground/sports culture in a zillion different and clever ways. Sports socks were worn with simple black stilettos, tweed suits had elasticised cuffs and hoods, mesh baseball hats matched knitted dresses or silk two-piece suits. Vintage-looking embroidered dresses were dotted alongside stark black leather pieces, as though the Shao Yen woman will wear her mother’s antique dresses, but likes to sharpen things up with masculine tailoring, too.

Shao Yen A/W 2012 by Amelia Gregory
Shao Yen A/W 2012 by Amelia Gregory
Shao Yen A/W 2012 by Amelia Gregory

The colour palette was just as fresh as the models, who I could have hugged for being so patient, even when an over-eager photographer almost knocked one over. Fizzy oranges and bright turquoises were perfectly offset by tweed and monochrome. Hair was pulled into simple, carefree ponytails and roughly backcombed, paired with bright orange-red lips and some blush.

Shao Yen A/W 2012 by Sam Mardon

Shao Yen A/W 2012 by Sam Mardon

Shao Yen A/W 2012 by Alia Gargum
Shao Yen A/W 2012 by Alia Gargum

The message for this collection was simple, understated country luxury done in an urban sportswear way. Tweed doesn’t have to be stuffy, and in fact was a massive hit this November when Rugby Ralph Lauren celebrated the opening of their Covent Garden store with a ‘Tweed Run’ where hundreds of Londoners donned their best tweeds and rode bikes around the town whilst stopping for tea and general merriment. We’ve chatted tweed and it’s cycling appeal before too, in an interview with the founders of Bobbin Bicycles, which you can read all about here. Shao Yen has created a whole new look by taking two quite fussy clothing cultures and stripping them down to something fresh and accessible (and more wearable than his previous beautiful yet revealing collections) for A/W 2012. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

All photography by Amelia Gregory and Alia Gargum

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