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London Fashion Week A/W 2011 Catwalk Review: Prophetik (by Katie)

In a striking antidote to the dark, minimalist palettes of some A/W collections, Jeff Garner's 'Artist Wonderment' was the highlight of my first day at LFW. Inspired by the court of Louis XV, this is not fashion for the faint hearted, but it combines all my personal priorities; ethical production, theatricality and a modern twist on a historical theme. Illustrations by Ankolie.

Written by Katie Antoniou


Orla Kiely LFW A/W Collection, search stuff illustration by Joana Faria

Initially I got stuck in the lift with a delivery man, information pills and then a very tanned lady. Apparently you are not supposed to use the lift at London Fashion Week. I don’t normally use the lift (thighs), pharmacy but to be honest, I was unsure as to how to get to the Portico Rooms, where Orla Kiely was showing her short films, and there was an arrow towards the lift. Anyway, tanned lady assisted me in getting in and consequently missed her lift and was forced to take the stairs. She was lovely. I entered the little room to find three sheds, twig trees, pretty stools, lots of stuffed birds (real?) and strange bird/nature music, wafting.


Orla Kiely LFW A/W 2011, illusration by Matilde Sazio

I wish I could say that I wafted around the room, and I tried to put be exhibition faced, but I had to move around people, twigs in my hair and face and then birds – just there. *SQUAWK* Perhaps now would be the time to say I am scared of birds.


Orla Kiely LFW A/W 2011, illustration by Avril Kelly

A dyed, dark haired boy with a strong side parting came up to me, straight backed and carrying a tray of champagne. Luckily for him the tray had little grooves so the stems came out the bottom to avoid spillage. Sadly for me, I couldn’t see how to access le bubbly. “How do I… ah, thanks”. I clutched my champagne at its stem. Although I saw most people holding their glasses around the fatter bit. I was told this was wrong to do by a man at a ‘ra’ party when I was 15. I also thought this was wrong/bad etiquette/heats liquid with hand warmth? But it does look better, holding champs at the fatter bit…rearrange hand. I smiled at a lady who had a few people round her and was smiling in my direction. She saw me though, and it vanished. Denied! I later heard her say she was the Editor of a Homes magazine and she got her photo taken amongst the twig trees. My time at BBC Homes and Antiques, as an intern, came rushing back to me.


Orla Kiely LFW A/W 2011, illusration by Matilde Sazio

I meandered about. LOVED the girls in Orla Kiely outfits, plastered to the walls. Although Orla Kiely heavily reminds me of women in Clifton (affluent part of Bristol), and Bath, sauntering about, I think her designs look excellent on younger women. With 60s influences, and pretty detailing, they’re perfect and easy to wear creations, that are FAR from some of preconceived ideas. Most of the aforementioned women only ever really wear the bags, to be fair. And to see the full outfits, with the pretty shoes, natural colours and high hemlines, I was in lust with Orla! Less the birds.


Orla Kiely LFW A/W Collection, illustration by Joana Faria

I had a little chat with the champagne boy, as I had no chance of speaking to Ms Editor, she wouldn’t appreciate one of my own designed business cards (they’re amazing). He said the films had been on rotation since 7am, which is fiiiine, but the soundtrack (i.e. birds), was a tad repetitive. We discussed our day. He asked if I was in ‘the business’. I replied: “Mmmm, writer.” I felt bad for not asking him if he was in the business, but as I sat on an Orla bench, decided that he was a poet who had escaped Burnley.


Orla Kiely LFW A/W 2011, illustration by Avril Kelly

I saw that the films were being shown in the sheds. I considered leaning on the side of the shed, as no one seemed to be sitting inside them. But instead decided to sit inside, on a stool, in the shed. It felt like one of those watch places you find on walks. Then: ARG!! A MASSIVE stuffed OWL was looking straight at me. Out the shed.


Orla Kiely LFW A/W Collection, illustration by Joana Faria

The video was purposefully flickery and sweet, with the models in greens and creams, wandering about their vintage filled houses. I won’t lie; I wanted the house/clothes dearly. They looked so contented, slightly robotic, but perfect.

Orla Kiely LFW A/W 2011, photography by Amelia Gregory

It seems that lighter, floatier fabrics took hold for Orla Kiely’s S/S 2011 collection, as Orla said: For ready-to-wear, there is silk organza mesh partywear; sheer fabrics have played a large part in the collection. Some prints also have abstract references to apples and pears. Within bags and accessories, I have designed leather backpacks and my debut sunglasses range.” But, heavier fabrics have returned for A/W, with beautiful, thick coats, short, wool dresses and A Line skirts, knitted skirt suits and 70s influenced belted loose jersey dresses and bell sleeves. All worn with black socks and ankle strapped shoes. Thick knit long cardigans or 60s trenches also feature, whilst the make up is subtle, allowing the deep teals, greens and light browns to take the focus. And of course promoting the simple, pretty, easy to wear, natural style of Orla Kiely.

I was transfixed by the video for a little while – the music was quite liable to do this – and then, although tempted to sit and drink more champagne on a pretty stool, I wandered off out the correct door.

Joana Faria’s Illustrations can also be found in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, available here.

Illustrations by Ankolie.

Even the invitation to this show had me excited; detail of a vintage toile print on a fabric corset lined with vintage style brass buttons and the byline ‘inspired by the court of Louis XV when art became frivolous’ grabbed my attention. Because all of this is frivolous, visit web isn’t it? We’re in the middle of a recession and yet here we are, still feeding are obsession with fashion and art because it has become such an integral part of our lives. Combining fashion and music is a big part of my job as a stylist to musicians, so opening the show with Analize Ching on the violin was a big hit with me, followed by wonderful orchestral music that evoked the atmosphere of a French royal court.

I’d been a little underwhelmed by a lot of very drab Autumn/Winter collections, where hues vary only from black,to greys, some cream and back to black. The colours Prophetik used are all natural, with plum shades blended from madder root, rumex, logwood and indigo, and burgundy mixed from madder root, curled dock and gallnut. Adding yet more splashes of colour and prints were the quilted pieces, handed down from Jeff’s grandmother Lola from Tennesse. Hemp, cactus silk and ostrich feathers provided stunning texture and shape to the pieces. Accessories label ‘Dotted Loop’ provided reworked vintage accessories and even the shoes were made from vegetable-tanned leather.

It’s rare that I can get at all excited by menswear, but the pieces in this collection spoke to the avid period-drama fan inside me. Military inspired jackets and riding boots? Phwoar. Yes please. Jeff himself appeared at the end showing how the look can be worked, though I’m sure he could probably get a way with wearing pretty much anything and still look like he just finished writing poetry/surfing/horse-riding; all listed as his hobbies. Only someone this comfortable with his masculinity could design coats for men made out of pastel pink quilts.

Corsets, tailored jackets and voluminous skirts; Jeff is very good at designing clothes for real women’s bodies. He recently dressed the lovely Livia Firth for the 2011 Golden Globes, and I can only imagine that his celebrity following will continue to increase. The final dress, ‘Mrs Moulton’ features ostrich feathers that shed naturally twice a year (from the ostrich, not the dress-that would be a high maintenance frock indeed) hand sewn on white silk and organza – I can totally picture this as a celebrity wedding dress. Watch this space.

I’ll leave you with Jeff’s take on Renaissance Art. I think it’s very interesting considering our current pre-occupation with all things vintage:

‘Renaissance art is not a rebirth as one implies, but freedom from the past. Unconcerned with what has been said or done, living in the present with an immediate relation to all things…achievement does not birth beauty but raw effort confessing its own failures and in the confession is the beauty of Art.’

All photography by Katie Antoniou.


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