Featuring a quintet of rising stars, Fashion East’s Spring/Summer 2022 showcase was a festival of exciting emerging talent
Fluorescent cutout one-piece and enormous handbags crafted from soft, scuba-textured spiky fabric at Chet Lo; ruff collars and barely-there chain tops at Goom Heo; a dramatic, rubber-coated, Carnival-esque, sea urchin-spiked back piece at Maximilian – the Spring/Summer 2022 Fashion East showcase proved Lulu Kennedy’s incubator is still hosting the most exciting emerging talent on the London fashion scene.
For S/S22, the five designers of Fashion East chose to present their latest offerings in a variety of ways. Maxmilian and Chet Lo’s models walked a physical runway, while Goom Heo and HRH presented digital collections, and Jawara Alleyne showed a static presentation set on the deck of an imagined ship (“one that’s trapped in a bottle in a dream world,” he explained) and which saw real living models posing amidst, and on top of, mannequins in offbeat positions including one eye-watering standing split.
The designer’s second presentation with Fashion East, this season saw Alleyne continue his explorations around ideas of transience and fixedness in fashion, with a work-in-progress collection of draped, repurposed, and recontextualised pieces. Last season’s more fluid fabrics of silk and jersey were swapped for the stiffer leather and denim, while safety pins, knots and cutouts amplified the brand’s rebellious spirit.
Informed by his upbringing in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, where clothing is approached with a greater sense of freedom, Alleyne is always questioning and challenging conventions of proportions, sizing, and gender roles. “Draping gives a beauty to menswear that you don’t normally see, because for some reason draping is usually seen as for women – it’s not often found in menswear,” he said. “It’s been fun figuring out how to have beautiful drapes yet keep it recognisably menswear.”
The Caribbean also offered inspiration for Maximilian’s S/S22 collection which drew from the sun-soaked colours, distinct sounds and vibrant flair of life on the islands. Reflecting on the sense of homecoming and freedom that the sea represents to many Caribbean people, designer Maximilian Davis combined references ranging from naval military uniforms and scuba gear to the James Bond film Dr No.
The result is a collection of sailor jackets, tailoring sculpted like wetsuits, hyper-femme devoré-velvet dancehall dresses, and plunging halter necks, which shows a real evolution and progression in the designer’s work. And then, the standout moment from the show – the bold, rubber-coated, sea urchin-like palm fronds created in collaboration with Nasir Mazhar and paying homage to Carnival, a central influence on Davis.
Also looking to the sea for his collection was Chet Lo who made his Fashion East debut this season. Born from a yearning for a tropical haven during the grimmest days of lockdown, his S/S22 collection, titled ‘Splash’, imagines a holiday oasis where mermaids exist, fluorescent drinks flow, and mystical romance is always on the horizon.
Full of pieces to be worn for going out, the collection offers a sexy, futuristic take on aquatic fluorescent resort wear crafted in Lo’s custom sheer spike knit fabric. There are knitted bikinis and one-pieces with matching cover-ups in the colours of sunsets, sheer evening gowns in sunrise gradients, and sleeveless tops in lagoon blues. Playful and nostalgic, the collection was finished off with lifebuoy rings and pool noodles draped over models who were further accessorised with swimming caps and gloves.
Following the live runway show, Fashion East’s final two labels, Goom Heo and HRH, presented digital lookbooks. Wholeheartedly embracing the eerie and unexpected, Goom Heo looked to the idea of chaos as comfort for her collection this season. With barely-there chain tops and swirl-slashed trousers, the South Korean designer showed off the body, exploring nakedness as both a natural state and a source of subversion.
Similarly, necklines were plunged, hems were hoicked up on micro-mini skirts, and material was wrapped and draped around the body for a series of tops, dresses, and jumpsuits. Meanwhile, slashes through the clothing offered brazen peeks of hip bones and butt cheeks.
Finally, HRH founder Hannah Hopkins once again drew on her experiences as a former gymnast to create a collection of swimwear and athletic wear that looks straight off the high beam. Interested in the ways in which athletes decorate themselves, Hopkins looked to Olympians like Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles to inspire her bedazzled collection.
Back from last season were the scrunchies that are a staple of every gymnast’s performance look, here blown up to XXL proportions and diamante-studded. “I felt very inspired by bodies of water this season and how we perform in it. I have used fabrics that are designed to come into contact with it,” she said. “I want this collection to bring everyone 100 per cent pleasure and confidence.”