Derry’s Jonathan Anderson lights up catwalk at London Fashion Week
Irish designers John Rocha and Orla Kiely also impress
Models walk the runway at Jonathan Anderson’s show during London Fashion Week. Photograph: Tim P Whitby/Getty Images
Hottest ticket in London at the weekend was for Jonathan Anderson’s show in Yeomanry House, home to the University of London’s army officer training corps. Some of the press battalions beside me said it all; Vogue Brazil, Vogue Russia, Vogue Korea, Vogue India and with rumours abounding that French global luxury group LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) have their eyes set on the 28-year-old designer from Magherafelt, Co Derry, expectations were high.
In the event, it was an intriguing collection downplayed in the press notes as “avant garde bland” but full of ideas and unusual manipulated fabrics like laser-cut “wipe clean” nylon and chevroned or embossed leathers.
His architectural, abstract approach to dress with overlapping fabrics, unusual surfaces and hem levels took its cue from Japanese origami design through one striped dress twisted around the body like a sweet wrapping. There were lovely full skirts in red, yellow or silver sequins, some topped with just a shiver of tulle while one dress fell in sensual folds the colour of skin.
Rocha’s show was an upbeat study in romance using floral prints for the first time in dreamy, full-skirted dresses worn with wide-brimmed visors of twisted nylon piping. Bias-cut white columns, their seams studded with red crochet roses emphasised the fundamental femininity of this collection while the final line-up of black, lacquered lace gowns embellished with gold rosettes was elegant and graceful. “It’s a celebration of womanhood,” the designer said backstage.
Orla Kiely’s new take on safari style used an African campsite stage set complete with tents and wild animal soundtrack to display a playful collection of shorts suits, feminine dresses and pinafores with tiny animal motif embroidery and patterns of giraffes and zebras. Mini bags came in the shape of lions’ heads and one called the huckleberry, with a rhino motif, was inspired by old binocular cases.
Her spacious new showroom and gallery opens on Percy Street, London, in November.
The Irish in London:
At Jasper Conran’s beautiful collection shown in the Saatchi Gallery at the weekend, there was much comment on the set, an illustrated backdrop and catwalk – “the prettiest runway ever”, according to many.
This was the work of the Irish artist Oisín Byrne, who met Conran quite by chance at a wedding and, following an informal conversation about printing on dresses, was invited to the designer’s studio to work with him on his spring/ summer collection.
The prints on the final four dresses shown on the catwalk were Byrne’s illustrations and architectural drawings.
“It started with the fabric and evolved into the set,” he says, explaining how this unique collaboration
“There was respect and trust on both sides which is rare,” says the artist ,whose four hand-painted flags will be part of the group show In The Line of Beauty for the reopening of the Irish Museum of Modern Art next month.
From Westport, Co Mayo, Joan Hughes graduated with a first-class honours degree in fashion design and technology from Manchester Metropolitan University.
After leaving college, the keen sailor worked on a yacht for a time and in her father’s company, Portwest, in Mayo.
Last October, along with a Kenyan friend who studied art at NCAD in Dublin, she set up the African Shirt Company after a few she had made were photographed in Grazia magazine and generated overnight demand.
Although her current full-time job is accessories designer of lifestyle products for Puma in London, as her interest in the African shirt social enterprise grows, so does her interest in production and sustainability.
Already its success with small sewing units in Kenya is empowering locals and helping projects like reforestation. “I think we can be more environmentally and socially responsible and still have the [fashion] things we love,” she says.