By Nikki Osman
September saw the 25th anniversary of London Fashion Week, the bi-annual celebration of the best of contemporary British design talent. While New York fashion week is famed for its glamour and Paris for its chic, London has long provided a transitory platform for new design talent to break onto the scene. And with hot new designers queuing up for their turn in the spotlight and new young talent graduating onto the London fashion scene every year, this years attendees were in for a fashionable treat in the form of the Spring/Summer 09 collections.
Some of the big names to watch this year were the winners of the recently established design grant offered by the British Fashion Council (BFC), the Fashion Forward award. The generous sponsorship for a LFW catwalk production provides the press coverage and the eye of the industry that up and coming designers need to get noticed. It certainly worked for one of this years winners, Erdem Moralioglu, the design talent behind Erdem. Although established in 2005, it has taken until 2008 for the industry to take significant notice. Erdem’s self confessed signature ‘hyper-romantic’ look was perfectly in keeping with the classic Spring vibe, updated with this years almost mandatory trends of sheer fabrics, layering and subtle frill details.
Also to benefit from being a Fashion Forward recipient was St Martin’s graduate roksanda Illincic. Building up her brand since 2003, Illincic’s SS09 collection had her best reviews to date. With a focus on silk and satin she added an element of luxe to the classic Spring nudes and pastilles and her use of dramatic silhouettes has led to the frequent and flattering label of ‘couture esque’.
But the third and arguably most deserving of the grant, was first time Fashion Forward recipient and relative new comer to the London scene, Christopher Kane. His label, only established in 2006, has witnessed acclaim on the back of the Fashion Forward grant and his SS09 showcase was very well received, making numerous editors’ Top Ten lists. His collection, based on an unusual Jurassic theme, stood out from the crowd by the use of oversized geometric shapes. The hints of safari and use of stand out colours was in keeping with much of Spring collections, while his insistence on maintaining his ‘prehistoric’ stance irrefutably set him apart. Despite the ready-to-wear tag, his dinosaur designs will inevitability lack the wearability achieved by other designers for next season, but in terms of establishing himself as a serious design talent, Kane was certainly successful.