Friday, April 22, 2011

It's a Br-It Thing Part 2: Designer takeover

It's high time I tackled the next part of my Brit mania: British designers. There are several high profile designers that have helped launch British fashion into the international circuit but London fashion week is getting gutsier and gutsier with every passing season and there is a new generation of talent that threatens to revolutionize the industry. I'm excited!

The established houses and names
Designers already basking in the baking spotlight of the fashion industry.

Alexander McQueen - now helmed by Sarah Burton
One of the original fashion superstars though now a supernova Alexander McQueen's suicide sent shock waves through the industry last February however his brand lives on in the trusty hands of Sarah Burton. The label is doing better than ever there has been an upswing in interest with the recent speculation over Kate Middleton's wedding dress and Sarah being put in contention to design for Dior. The brand is known for it's dark extravagance, dramatic silhouettes and theatrical shows.

Burberry - helmed by Christopher Bailey

One of the most iconic British brands has now become a fully fledged world phenomenon with Christopher Bailey embracing technology to engage with the worldwide market. Some of his strategies have included streaming his shows live, including a live chat and the potential to flag items for purchase as the clothes come out and also recently he restaged his Fall 2011 show in Beijing with holographic models. The brand staples are the iconic camel trench coat and their classic red, beige & black check.

John Galliano & Christian Dior - previously helmed by John Galliano

Galliano, though born in Gibraltar, was raised in London and graduated from Central Saint Martins, the fashion school that churns out more young British designers than any other. While one of the most talented designers in the industry with a head design job at the French house Dior and his own eponymous label, John Galliano but it all came crashing down in a 59 second video. It's a shame (talent wise) but his legacy at Dior will be remembered for elevating the luxury brand to new creative and artistic heights. Galliano was known for his couture shows and his incredible references for collections.

Julien Macdonald
This endearing Welsh man is an uber talented individual whose knowledge of knits led Karl Lagerfeld to hire him to work as head of knitwear for Chanel and then was appointed head designer of Givenchy in 2001, the same year he won British Designer of the Year. He makes sexy, sensual clothes that only a designer of his caliber could imagine.

Matthew Williamson

A favorite among leggy, tanned celebrities Matthew Williamson's return to London from several seasons in New York shows that home is where the heart is. Another CSM grad Williamson has previously worked for Marni, Monsoon and even held the head designer position at Emilio Pucci. While he may not have the notoriety of Galliano or McQueen he is well loved by young hot Hollywood. Some of the brand signatures are the bright prints, flashy colors and short hems that usually accompany his dresses.

Stella McCartney

If that last name sounds familiar it should... daughter of Sir Paul McCartney, this gifted designer has the resume to back her name up. She learned the craft of tailoring at Saville Row and eventually was named creative director of Chloé. At the time Lagerfeld said "[Chloé] should have taken a big name. They did, but in music, not fashion. Let's hope she is as gifted as her father." Well naysayers better zip their lips because she counts some of Hollywood's biggest stars as close friends and supporters, has had several major collaborations, one with Addidas, and is constantly surprising the fashion world. The label is known for being eco-friendly as McCartney is a vegetarian and the mannish tailoring with feminine edge. 

Vivienne Westwood

Who else could revolutionize punk fashion but this flame haired maven? Vivienne Westwood's unique style and presentation has allowed her to carve her own niche into the mainstream fashion world where her eclectic fashions make some of the loudest statements. As a whole her pieces are beautifully crafted and completely genius, but can often be overlooked because they are so busy. I think she's created one of the most well recognized brands worldwide. The label is well known for the crazy runway shows and make-up and cleverly constructed, wearable clothes with a twist.

The new crop/ Heritage labels
The next great labels and designers who are giving British fashion such a good rep. A collection of young designers with their own brands and heritage labels with new talent.

Aquascutum - under Joanna Sykes as of Fall 2011

Aquascutum is a heritage brand, established in 1851. The name means 'water shield' in Latin because of the waterproof wool that the brand pioneered. They are the masters of outerwear and quintessential English tailoring.

Céline - helmed by Phoebe Philo
Probably one of my favorite brands at the present time Philo revolutionized the French luxury brand that she took over in mid 2008. Yet again another CSM grad and a co-worker of McCartney's/ her successor at Chloé before Céline. Her aesthetic is very clean lines, simple colors and beautifully tailored silhouettes. She is one of the industry's brightest stars and is definitely continuing her meteoric rise.

Christopher Kane
We met Christopher in Part 1 and he is undeniably one of LFW's rising stars. At only the tender age of 28 he has been extremely involved in the fashion industry. Since winning the Harrods award for his MA collection from CSM he has since teamed with Donatella Versace for Versus, won the BFC British Designer of the Year Award in 2009 and was shortlisted for the first BFC/ Vogue Designer Fashion Fund award in 2010 but lost to our next designer. Christopher is known for his body con dresses though always mixing it up with different textiles, prints and technologies.

Monsieur Erdem Moralioglu is a British-Turkish designer who actually graduated from Ryerson University in Toronto. Knee deep in the fashion industry he interned for Vivienne and DVF and has dressed the stylish Michelle Obama. His most shining moment was when he won the coveted  BFC/ Vogue Designer Fashion Fund award in 2010. Everything he touches seems to turn to gold and his aesthetic encompasses beautifully crafted, precise clothes and his prints are often teeming with florals, florals and more FLORALS!

Felder Felder
You can't have enough of one good thing, but can you handle two? Identical twin sisters Annette and Daniela Felder both attended CSM and launched their label while studying. They are the recipients of the New Gen Award three seasons running and are poised to take on even more in the coming years. Their brand characteristics are rock and roll yet feminine which gives them a huge amount of appeal to the current pop princesses of the charts.

Holly Fulton
Scottish designer, Fulton won the Swarovski Emerging Talent Award for Accessories at the British Fashion Awards 2009 and her jewelry is only the beginning. Fulton's designs remind me of Art Deco prints and the graphic geometric shapes make simple silhouettes super exciting. She credits decorative surfaces for her inspiration and says that her aim is to create couture worthy pieces... success.

Issa - helmed by Daniela Issa Helayel
Though not born in Britain (she is from Brazil) her label is aimed at iconic British dressing and she is quoted saying that the Queen would be her ideal customer. Her effortless style and feminine shapes are very reminiscent of DVF. 

Jonathan Saunders
Another Scottish designer with an abundance of talent comes in the form of Jonathan Saunders who after showing his MA collection was contacted 48 hours later by McQueen and also consulted for Pucci  and Chloé. He moved to New York in 2008 and then back to showing in London in 2010. I love his use of colors on wearable clothes and his trademark is the graphically engineered print which he is trying to update to fit around well tailored, sleek clothes.

Louise Gray
She kinda looks like a younger version of Vivienne Westwood with the wild hair and the quirky clothing but Louise Gray is her own whirlwind of prints, shapes and colors. Graduating with a degree in textile design her design aesthetic is youthful and fun and very Pop inspired.

Mary Katrantzou
I've devoted many a post to the talented Ms. Katrantzou and so this recap could be short but... She attended RISD and CSM and her style trademarks are strong graphics, innovative prints and shows that manage to take people's breathe away.

Meadham Kirchhoff
A Frenchman and en Englishman coming together and uniting two of the greatest fashion nations. The eclecticism of the city is definitely reflected in their designs which manage to merge both the polish of museums and art galleries in addition to the grittiness of the street style and the vibrant mixture of cultures. You can never anticipate what their next move is and that's their label trademark.

Mulberry - helmed by Emma Hill
Moving back home was a good move for Mulberry, the British lifestyle brand that encapsulates English style so well. The play between sweet and saucy nature of the brand makes it appropriate for a worldwide audience and their trademark is their leather handbag.

Pringle of Scotland - helmed by Claire Waight Keller
Another heritage brand established in 1815 Pringle of Scotland's trademarks are its knitwear and outwear. Think about tweed, twinsets, cashmere, knits, trench coats and you're there, the brand has also begun to explore sportwear and this combination results in a truly cliched British picture. Keller has an excellent resume to match the brand, she has worked for Gucci, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, design houses that all have the trademarks that she has carried to this brand.

Roksanda Ilincic
I should give up counting how many CSM graduates we have among these designers, but at least we know they're churning out success stories. Ilincic is known for her luxe designs and her read carpet appeal. One of her famous fans is the first lady Michelle Obama and the wearability, yet classiness of her designs makes her a powerful British star.

Temperly London
And finally, Alice Temperley has a massive fan base and the four collections she puts out every year make her one of the most in demand British designers. American Vogue once called her 'the designer making the biggest waves in British fashion'. Her strong foundation in printmaking has earned her constant praise.

The thing to take away from the epicness of this post (and I mean epic in the Homeric sense) is that British fashion is on the rise, LFW is becoming much more relevant and editors are beginning to pay attention to these designs. Remember these names and covet their clothes if you have them. They're catapulting to fame.

- Life is good

Listening to: 'We Used to be Friends'  - The Dandy Warhols (Veronica Mars phase much??)
Observations: I hate exams
Craving: Nothing! Overdosed on fish and chips 

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