Upcoming creatives bring the spirit of novelty and youth that the fashion industry relies on. Luckily enough, London Fashion Week is always filled with emerging goodness and acts as a platform for numerous freshly graduated talents showcasing their work. This year yet again, we decided to meet some of the coolest new designers, soon to be the talk of their town. Gathered under the Future Archive showroom (and rave by the look of the opening party) seven talents showcased their collection as an opening to London’s fashion week. We got the chance to talk with four of them.
Rory Townsend is here to reshape our cottagecore daydreams into high-fashion meets workwear-inspired garments. Based in East London, the British designer constructs silhouettes from his whimsical memories of growing up in Dorset where his affection for fashion has sprouted at 14-years-old.
“I’ve always been interested in visual arts based on a subject so the idea that I could turn 2D and 3D was really inspiring to me,” he says, “A lot of my clothing comes from a personal place. I definitely am very inspired by the nostalgia of growing up in the west coast countryside,” he says. Blending earthly color palette with an occasional popping tone, Rory lets us immerse in a light-hearted romanticism. Playful with forms, from over-the-top, oversized flowy bottoms to see-through textured tops, his work is smart and sexy.
Working with themes hitting close to home, Townsend always scores high. “It’s a personal look into what clothing means to me,” he elaborates on his collection exhibited in the showroom. Admiring Rory’s roots translated into clothes, we felt refreshed while in awe of the craftmanship and abstract patterns clashing with futuristic sportswear-like aesthetics. Bold and beautiful.
“It’s about having a good mix of making sure that it’s enough in there to be commercialized but it’s not losing the story behind it,” he talks on the ever-common concept that often comes fighting with the artistry. Though working under Cottweiler and Robyn Lynch, he’s learned the ropes of building and producing a collection from the base up.
For the high of shared creative ventures and bouncing off ideas, he joined Future Archive for the first time this season. “It’s about community and respecting people coming from different backgrounds and it’s important to hear the voices of these people. It’s nice to be able to work alongside graduates who have gone through the same processes. We inspire each other,” Rory shares.
Rory Townsend, bringing the countryside to the metropolis, proves that even in fashion, the most unlikely affairs are the most exciting ones. It goes well beyond menswear as the vision that Rory paints will appeal to anyone willing to immerse in a well-grounded amour. We definitely do.
“My aim is always to try and harness this ability and alter the way the body is viewed and the way we feel through our clothes to transform the wearer into the best version of themselves,” says Isabella. Her opalesque, morphing around body constructions have that kind of transformative power. Reconstructed suit-resembling garments, dresses dipped in crystal-like sculptures and sheer materials make a jaw-dropping impression on anybody coming close to Smith’s work.
It’s a journey back to the elegant extravaganza of past ages storming into 2022’s dust and grime. “When I was exploring glamour in my last collection what really spoke to me is that a very modern glamour is found in every day, the contrast against the mundane,” Isabella elaborates. Re-joining Future Archive for the second dance, she’s showing a follow-up to the graduate collection, a capsule of ready-to-wear pieces: from nylon evening gloves with motocross details to pieces inspired by suspender belts. Teleporting ballroom-tailored fantasy from the haute-couture-revolving realm to the streets. “I want to bring that sense into pieces that people can wear on the red carpet, to a party, or just a very glam trip to Tesco’s,” she says.
Isabella sees more complex and commercial endeavors are two sides of the same coin: “I really love making the pieces that I wear and bringing designs into ‘real life is also really exciting, as long as the essence of the design comes from the same place as the concept pieces, they can complement each other”. As long as the essence is there, anything can be bait to let imagination unravel into a full-blown fantasy.
It’s even more fabulous if that vision is shared, especially in the post-pandemic, hard-to-juggle and seize, realities of the fashion industry. “We have proved that it is possible to continue to create and present work exactly how we want to without outside funding, and the possibilities of where we can go from here in future seasons are really exciting,” says the designer on co-founding the collective.
The last year’s CSM graduate with Margiela and Givenchy placements under her belt is ready to spread the creative wings in any possible direction, with sustainability in mind. “A key part of being sustainable is making better choices and loving and valuing the things you own,” she says. Invest in stories, not trends. It’s as simple as that.
Isabella’s modern glamour surpasses tradition. It’s clean, contemporary, and with a touch of shine. Smith’s star is on the rise.
There must be something in the air of Iceland. Thora Stefansdottir agreed to meet me in the local coffee shop near Regent’s Canal, London. Fully emerging in her work, she kindly put a break to it after a busy day weaving to discuss her most recent collection. The joyfulness of Stefansdottir already announces the brightness of her creations. Extremely colorful to say the least, but in the tastiest way you can think about. She was wearing one of the tops from her collection. Did I already mention that she fully emerges in her creative world? Modeling, digitally creating prints from pictures of her body, weaving her own fabric, and directing her lookbook photoshoot at time… Thora’s DNA is present in every detail of the pieces she creates.
Growing alongside a textile-artist mother and a father, whose extreme recycling habits have always amused her daughter, Stefansdottir was born to become a fashion designer with an appeal for sustainability; that she takes to the point of not using paper cutting patterns and toiles in the making of her pieces. “Sustainability is something I grew up in, so it’s an underlining process in my work.”, She said. Iceland is as well known for its ancestral textile know-how, sadly disappearing, but inspiring a new generation of Icelandic designers. While Thora cheerfully tells me the story of her collection, cigarette in hand. I felt immediately absorbed by the stories of my narrator, the climax is reached when she explains the car accident in which she found herself younger. The insurance allowed her some money and she decided – and why not? – to move to London and start her design formation at the Central Saint Martins.
She explained the psychedelic prints, icons of her collection, by saying: “Most of my fabrics are digitally woven, I create a print on Photoshop and then wove it in an abstract way so you can’t really see that it’s a print”. She added, “The prints were inspired by emotions and their projections in the space and were made from the recording of a video of me draping things on myself. I would dress up and take the clothes off, then it became an abstract print.” According to her, a very therapeutic process forcing her to look at herself, her body, from a different perspective before modifying it, reshaping herself. The whole thing during lockdown -a double dose of introspection-. The work of Thora is forever evolving, and she now focuses on a more wearable silhouette in comparison to her first collection.
When asked about her appeal to bold colors she confessed, “I’ve always been obsessed with colors, I associate things with colors and even learned math by associating numbers and colors. I believe that’s also where I tie emotions to them.” She is though extremely proud of her first black and white creation – a challenge in itself – for such a free spirit. By emerging herself fully in her craft, she gave herself to us, spreading her feelings onto the fabric. We now will adorn our bodies with them. I’ll save a place in my wardrobe, for a piece of her.
Linnea is your local cool girl, the one you pass by at the club and want to befriend with. Coiffed from the edgiest hairstyle on her blood-red hair, wearing stiletto boots matching them. Complete allure.
I meet designers specialized in upcycling quite often those days. And for a good reason! The challenging look of those creations also echoes with the first life of the textile -or not- product used in the craft of such pieces, a lasting emotion let’s say. Linnea Nordquist takes that concept into a new dimension -a higher level- and upcycles wedding dresses. Fashion and emotions are two intertwined subjects, but bridal belong to a different category. An item made to be worn once loved, then conserved as an artifact only to be observed once every blue moon. “There is so much fabric and so much to do from those dresses” Linnea explained.
With a tailoring background, Nordquist cuts are sharp and well fitted. Her label Liquist (contraction of her first and last names) originally started as a menswear line but evolved into a genderless silhouette as Linnea’s personal style slowly merged into her designs. She explained that “It has always been quite obvious for me to become a designer, I love to craft and always need to have something to do with my hands, at the moment it’s crochet.” Nordquist also confessed that she’s been designing under the name Liquisk ever since she learned how to saw, almost ten years ago. Although she grew and evolved, the vision was there from the start.
The crochet pieces cited previously are -believe it or not- made of upcycled nylon tights giving them a nice heavy look as well as elasticity. “It’s the type of garments that you only wear once, they break very easily. They are fragile but the actual fibber is very resistant. I decided to cut stripes of them and made them into yarn.” Whether it is bridal or undergarments Nordquist brings new life to female coded pieces made to be worn once. shred and torn them, transforming them into new and temporal pieces. An almost unconscious Scandinavian touch for the Swedish-born fashion designer.
The one who dared to cut wedding dresses confess that she aims to create easy-to-read clothes, wearable, comfortable and empowering. “From my tailoring background I learned too many rules, I would feel like breaking them by creating unwearable garments” Linnea Nordquist is now the one who rules and I, want to fully emerge myself in her style. Her bridal-turned-into-pant creations are already keeping me awake at night.