On Friday, London Fashion Week’s first digital-only, gender neutral event will take place – here are five moments to look out for
It has almost been three months since the UK Government imposed a lockdown due to the outbreak of Covid-19 and yet normality – in Britain at least – still feels a long way off. This is true of fashion too, where, for the foreseeable future, runway shows are no longer possible. London Men’s Fashion Week is still going ahead, though – albeit in a different form: now “gender neutral”, the event will merge mens- and womenswear on londonfashionweek.com – a new, digital-only platform hosting content from over 100 designers, in addition to creative individuals and cultural institutions.
Launching on Friday, this content will be available to access via a Netflix-style hub split into three streams: The LFW Schedule, which comprises timed moments, including conversations (between Hussein Chalayan and Elise By Olsen, for example), collection launches and conversations; Explore, which aims to tell the story of London’s creativity and culture via BFC-created content (including a podcast featuring Edward Enninful and Sadiq Khan discussing the coronavirus pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement); and Designer Profiles, where the designers will introduce themselves and their work. Obviously there’s a lot going on, so we’ve picked out a few of our highlights.
Accompanied by a trio of young South London musicians – Rago Foot, Kwake Bass, and Wu-Lu – Nicholas Daley’s Autumn/Winter 2020 collection took inspiration from Afrofuturism and the black abstract art movement of the 1970s, namely the work of Guyanese-born artist Frank Bowling whose first major retrospective opened at the Tate last year. At 12pm on Friday, the designer will be premiering The Abstract Truth, a behind-the-scenes film by Amy Douglas that promises an insight into the making of this collection.
One of fashion’s rising stars, designer Priya Ahluwalia launched her eponymous brand in 2017, which draws both on her Indian-Nigerian heritage and her upbringing in London (her Spring/Summer 2020 collection took inspiration from old family photographs). At 1.15pm on Friday, Ahluwalia will be launching her second book, Jalebi, a limited-edition photography tome, shot by Laurence Ellis, which explores the designer’s work and what it means to be a young mixed-heritage person living in the UK. Jalebi will be showcased via an interactive and virtual gallery space.
Bianca Saunders, another rising star, launched her eponymous brand in 2017 too, and has since garnered attention for her thoughtful exploration of topics surrounding gender, race and her own Caribbean heritage, as well as the cut of her clothes, which imbues the garments with a sense of movement. At 11.30am on Saturday, Saunders will be launching a zine in addition to hosting a panel discussion with photographer Joshua Woods, stylist Matt Holmes and model Jess Cole.
Charles Jeffrey’s label is of course synonymous with his LOVERBOY club night at Vogue Fabrics in Dalston and all the hedonism that comes with. While club nights and hedonism may feel like distant memory at this point in the pandemic, Jeffrey will be live-streaming a LOVERBOY party at 7pm on Saturday, to launch a new capsule collection and perhaps offer a foretaste of the freedoms we will be able to enjoy again once lockdown measures finally lift.
The alma mater of some of the greatest designers in fashion history, Central Saint Martins will present Class of 2021 Fieldwork material at 11.20am on Sunday, produced by the college’s MA Fashion students “engaged in the process of design; in its purest, almost abstract form”. Precisely what this entails, you’ll have to wait and see.
The emerging Amsterdam-based designer Duran Lantink – who was nominated for the LVMH Prize in 2019 for his innovate repurposing of deadstock – has invited the multidisciplinary artist Angel-Ho to take over his platform on London Fashion Week’s digital hub. The music and performance artist continuously subverts and questions gender stereotypes with their work, and for London Fashion Week has chosen to spotlight a series of organisations which support Black Lives Matter and gender movements (SWEAT, Sistaaz Hood, The Marsha P Johnson Institute, Lovedale Press, and a petition for justice for Khosa Collins) alongside two emerging South African artists (Haneem Christian and River Moon).
East London-based shoe brand ROKER celebrates its signature box-toed boots with a series of films created for London Fashion Week. Claire Wang, Jordon Byron Britton, Luke Farley, Anna Engerström and Nina Kunzendorf, each wearing a pair of bespoke ROKER boots, captured themselves in their homes for the five films, which are now available to watch on the gender neutral brand’s Youtube channel.
London’s first digital fashion week launches on June 12, 2020.