Fashion is constantly changing and with each season we see a new generation of fashion students trying to make their mark. For three lucky young designers, the Fashion East show gives them a chance to show off their ideas and concepts to the world in hopes of either launching their own brand or securing a valuable spot within a major design house. For this season, the young designers are Louise Alsop, Helen Lawrence, and Ashley Williams. I am including one look from each in the image above, along with one I feel was best of show.
Louise Alsop came first with her signature (literally) hand writing style of embroidery. This element alone is likely to serve her well and seeing as she is a Fashion East rookie this season, it will be quite interesting to see exactly how she develops over the next few months. Her clothes have a bit of a grunge style to them, with unfinished hems and pushed up sleeves, but at the same time she does some very contemporary things with sheer layering. Her silhouettes are roomy and fun, and I anticipate her using her embroidery style to send socially aware messages. Given this is her first season, the looks are quite impressive.
Another Fashion East newcomer, Helen Lawrence, already arrives with a bit of a following due to her relationship with menswear. She has been Craig Green’s knit collaborator and is on Anna Wintour’s list of designers to watch. What she shows today demonstrates a lot of creativity and experimentation on her part. The non-traditional hems and cuts give a unique feel to her pieces, especially the ones done in pvc. When she opts for softer fabrics, Lawrence’s cut out looks can feel a bit sexy, but one gets the impression that’s not necessarily the direction she wants to go. While the collection may not be quite ready for prime retail space, she demonstrates some imagination that could take her interesting places.
Finally, Ashley Williams walks her third and final Fashion East collection and this one is definitely more mature and more buyer-ready than what we’ve seen of her previously. Yes, there is still that Texas influence, especially in the last few looks with horse heads appliqued on leather with fringed sleeves. She definitely could take those looks to the Lone Star state and make enough right there to finance her own label for several seasons. Ms. Williams has found ways to craft her creativity into silhouettes and designs that are more retail appropriate and more likely to be popular with young adult buyers. She definitely tapped into a popular culture stream when she puts appliqued kittens on her looks. The only questionable aspect would be the modified granny bonnets she teases, and I have a feeling those were really more of a humor point than fashion statement.
Ms. Williams gets the fourth spot up top because, understandably, her work is more finished, more production ready than the other two. All three are very creative designers and it will be quite interesting to see what they do with their careers.