Fashion as a Tool For Expressing Identity and Sexuality – Art School Gets Personal at London Fashion Week Men

Fashion as a tool for identity and freedom of expression – Art School presented a mesmerising performance-based presentation in collaboration with director Theo Adams and choreographer Masumi Saito that evolved across several scenes with intertwined couples colliding, canoodling and clashing.  Art imitating life.  It felt like a series of tender and queer moments where not just the clothing, but the personal design philosophy of Eden Loweth, a BA Fashion graduate of Ravensbourne and Tom Barratt, an Art Criticism, Communication and Curation graduate of Central Saint Martins who together form Art School, was on show.  Every vantage point showed different unfolding storylines and it was constantly engaging with only a subtle beginning and faint hint of an ending to this rolling presentation.  This was their first presentation under their label Art School, setting the scene for sexual fluidity in their clothing and an art-driven point of view.  

The show notes cited the modernist Bauhaus collective and Diaghalev’s Ballet Russes alongside Derek Jarman’s Chroma as sources of inspiration for form, colour and pattern.  The notes were accompanied by the Art School Manifesto:

Teaming up with Converse and Swarovski and championed by Vogue and Love Magazine the duo look like they are tender heavyweights already.  I can’t wait for the next chapter, but for now, I have edited down to the shots below from hundreds I took as the gorgeous presentation unfolded.

**Thoughts about how this presentation may look in the future woke me up this morning – way too early – after writing this article last night.  It occurs to me that there will be another relationship to consider if art imitates life.  The relationship between humans, bionic humans and humanoid robots.  Casting my mind to advances in artificial intelligence and the film Ex Machina, and even current robot InMoov created by french sculptor Gael Langevin, it is not difficult to imagine that we will develop emotional bonds with robots in the not too distant future.  What will the dynamic of those relationships be?  How will our behaviours change once robots share our work and interact with us socially?  Forward to a brave new world.

Top, Ex Machina, Dir: Alex Garland.  Below, Gael Langevin and InMoov, photo: Gael Langevin

Credits:

Designers: Eden Loweth and Tom Barratt

Art Director:  Siobhan Cait Farrar

Stylist:  Ai Kamoshita

Makeup:  Rebecca Wordingham and the M.A.C PRO team

Hair:  Jonathan De Francesco for Babyliss

Set Design:  Alice Kirkpatrick

Nails:  Kimberley Nkosi using Elegant Touch and Nails Inc.

Muse and Collaborator:  Hannah Hetherington

Couture Underwear and Personal Mentor:  Lyall Hakaraia

Theo Adams company:

Director:  Theo Adams

Musical Director:  Jordan Hunt

Choreographer:  Masumi Saito

and Mariya Mizuno, Anna Lewenhaupht, Sophia Brown

All photos by Techstyler except where othewise noted

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Darwinism and Luxury Fashion Brands

Flicking through Vogue Italia August 2011 issue I came across a campaign image from Moschino. Wowsers, has it changed since Jeremy Scott took the helm?! It got me thinking about Alexander Fury’s FURY over what he surmises as Hedi Slimane’s butchering and ‘dishonouring’ of Yves Saint Laurent’s name since he took on the Creative Directorship in 2012. I’ve just seen the images of the S/S16 Saint Laurent show and I can’t wait to read Fury’s (Fury-ous?) review of this one. Yikes.

In British Vogue, October 2002 issue I came across a calf-length tweed boot by Loewe, ripping me right back to a time when Loewe was a sleepy Madrid-based label loved by the conservative and well-healed Spaniard with a respect for well crafted and extortionately expensive leather goods to last a lifetime and be handed down to family members through the generations. A Loewe handbag had since become a right of passage for all girls entering their late teens whose parents were flush. I worked at Loewe as a knitwear consultant for a couple of seasons before JW Anderson took up the proverbial reins and Loewe is speaking an entirely different language now – a new hybrid Euro language we’re all trying to learn, where the feminine and masculine tenses are replaced with gender neutral ones and that’s full of knowing slang dosed out with bags of attitude. At least he’s saying something interesting.

moschinoMoschino 2011

AW14-Moschino-Ad-2Moschino 2014

YSLYves Saint Laurent 2011

image21-1Saint Laurent 2015

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Loewe 2011

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The current Loewe campaign

So what’s in a brand? Does the history of the brand matter? Should it’s design ‘codes’ be respected for all time? If so, how does a designer do that while remaining current, or better still, trail blazing? Today’s fashion consumer is not the same as yesterday’s. We live in a digital, dynamic and immediate world. The old codes of luxury have to give way to new ones to maintain relevance. The design, craft and processes are paramount, but luxury design does not have to mean conservative design. Technology will drive the fashion industry, at least in terms of online sales; quicker, greener manufacturing, social media growth leading to increased connectivity between brands and customers.  This must in turn lead to innovation in design and changing design codes.  Consider how the innovation in digital knitting has changed the trainer landscape? Nike Flyknits are the single most exciting development in knitting technology that has spearheaded design in the last decade, in my opinion. This technology is now being applied in the premium and luxury sector and an explosion in the trainer market has led to luxury brands upping their trainer offer. Check out the trainer offer from Chanel and Dior, and the trainer that sparked the following luxury textile incarnations, Nike Flyknit:

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Chanel A/W 2015

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Christian Dior Haute Couture S/S 14

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Nike Flyknit Zoom Agility Fit (since 2011)

Perhaps the answer ultimately lies in the lessons of Biology. In Darwinian terms we must evolve to survive.

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