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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Sorapol at Old Vic Tunnels: A/W 2012 Catwalk Review

On Friday 16th March London's newest underground brand brought us a characteristically theatrical catwalk event at the Old Vic Tunnels, attended by a plethora of colourful guests that included Boy George and Jodie Harsh. Sorapol is the brainchild of Sorapol Chawaphatnakul and creative director Daniel Lismore.

Written by Maria Papadimitriou

Sorapol AW12 by Joanne Young

Sorapol AW12 by Joanne Young

I was excited to receive an invite for the A/W 2012 catwalk show of Sorapol because I had heard that the creative director of this young underground brand is the extravagant club kid Daniel Lismore. So I eagerly arrived at the graffitied, atmospheric venue of Old Vic Tunnels to meet photographer and burlesque performer Tigz Rice aka Tigzy aka Raven Six, who took some of the photos shown here. There was a palpable air of excitement in the long queue, which was chock full of beautiful beings. Some of them, like Boy George, were superstars, and others were well known and popular scenesters, fashionistas and nightlife luminaries, such as Jodie Harsh, Lady Lloyd or Philip Levine. The crowd began to complain when it descended into a disorderly mass to enter the show space via a too small archway, resulting in a serious amount of squeezing and ticket waving. At one point I really thought I had lost my chance to go in, which sadly happened to a large number of guests. A few really disappointed ones even started burning their Sorapol tickets in protest, I hear, but Sorapol could not have been more apologetic on their twitter feed and I am sure this will be something they will think through more carefully next time.

Sorapol AW12 by Tigz Rice Studios

Sorapol AW12 photo by Maria Papadimitriou

Sorapol AW12 by Fay Myers

Sorapol AW12 by Fay Myers

Thankfully, once inside, the vibe was completely friendly, happy and relaxed. The show, entitled Iron Grip, opened in utter darkness aside from the lights behind a curtained archway, from which smoke crept down the catwalk against sounds of sirens, gunfire and explosions. After a few minutes the first model appeared and started walking slowly towards us as Charlie D Soprano sang in a majestic and slightly sinister opera style. I could not really make out what or in which language she was singing, but, intriguingly, the day before the show she wrote on her twitter feed that she was ‘translating pop songs into Russian for tomorrow’s gig’.

Sorapol AW12 by Tigz Rice Studios

Sorapol AW12 by Nicola Ellen

Sorapol AW12 by Nicola Ellen

Indeed the outfits that Thai head designer and recent graduate from the London College of Fashion Sorapol Chawaphatnakul sent down the catwalk were so theatrical and adorned with such symbolic props, that one could not help wondering – I like to read the press release after a show – what was the specific reference point or message of this collection. What the press release revealed was that for his A/W 2012 collection Sorapol was inspired by a very specific storyline, which is rather helpful to know when looking at these creations. The story is that of Vasilia, an orphaned girl in pre-revolutionary Russia, who was adopted and raised by exiled Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov aka Lenin. The story then goes that Lenin took Vasilia and his communist ideas to the Russian cities intending to overthrow the aristocracy, but he found Vasilia a place in the Royal Household and there she fell in love with Prince Alexander. Suspicious of this, Lenin ordered the assassination of Prince Alexander. Love and aesthetic beauty won over her father’s ideology and Vasilia attempted to warn the prince but failed. So, enraged and heartbroken Vasilia joined the ranks of the white-clad soldiers fighting to restore Russia’s splendour.

Sorapol AW12 photo by Maria Papadimitriou

Sorapol AW12 photo by Maria Papadimitriou

Sorapol AW12 by Tessa McSorley

Sorapol AW12 by Tessa McSorley

Via this fairytale, therefore, the A/W 2012 Sorapol collection was created from Vasilia’s point of view with an emphasis on the grandeur of the pre-revolution Russian culture, showing lots of opulent furs, long gowns and embellishments of pearls and gold. [A little parenthesis here to say that I really hope the fact that Sorapol Chawaphatnakul is a Buddhist means all this fur on show was not real.] There were also a lot of elements which suggested war, death and the clash between luxury, or beauty, and fighting. For instance the second outfit was a long red gown with a line of bullets running down from the shoulders to the waist on both sides, complemented by a very impressive tall beehive hairdo in which a gold gas mask had been incorporated. Another favourite hairdo was again a tall beehive this time with a gold skull poking out of it. The theme of death was further emphasised by a model holding a black skull prop in her hand and battle was spelt out by dresses with structured armour sleeves and a silver, gloriously sparkly military suit.

Sorapol AW12 by Tigz Rice Studios

Sorapol AW12 by Joanne Young

Sorapol AW12 by Joanne Young

Sorapol AW12 by Joanne Young

The make up for the show was executed by Illamasqua. Unfortunately it is not properly evident in the photos, but it looked fantastic up close. A pale, whitish effect, with glittery touches here and there extended down to the models’ cleavages and brought to mind either corpses or the snowy Russian landscape or perhaps powdered aristocracy.

Sorapol AW12 photo by Maria Papadimitriou

Sorapol AW2012 by Janneke de Jong

Sorapol AW2012 by Janneke de Jong

The last couple of outfits were especially theatrical, featuring predominantly white and gold colours, and the crown worn by the last model suggested some kind of victory. This collection was far from commercial, and I can see how it would not be everybody’s cup of tea. As for myself, I was slightly disappointed that it was not more over the top, but then a lot of the time my ideal fashion design is something along the lines of Andrew Logan’s Alternative Miss World. In any case when the Sorapol spectacle ended the vibe was certainly one of victory, with Sorapol Chawaphatnakul running down the catwalk in really high spirits and the audience congratulating him with cheers and a standing ovation.

Sorapol AW12 photo by Maria Papadimitriou

Sorapol AW12 photo by Maria Papadimitriou

Sorapol AW12 photo by Maria Papadimitriou

Sorapol AW12 by Tigz Rice Studios

Sorapol AW12 by Tigz Rice Studios

Sorapol AW12 photo by Maria Papadimitriou

Sorapol AW12 photo by Maria Papadimitriou

Sorapol AW12 photo by Maria Papadimitriou

Sorapol AW12 by Tigz Rice Studios

All photography by Tigz Rice Studios and Maria Papadimitriou

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