London Fashion Week AW16: Craft, Collaboration and Creation

It was exciting to see forward thinking designers blending traditional craftsmanship, with cutting edge design and innovative construction. Collaboration with artisans and fellow designers was integral to the distinctive style and creativity of many collections.

Zandra Rhodes collaborated with Kraftangan Malaysia for a second season, intricately weaving metallic silk into the native Malaysian fabric, Songket. The result was a glittering, 70’s inspired collection, Shimmer & Shine. The intension of the Rhodes Kraftangang partnership is to revive and raise awareness of Malaysian textiles internationally.

A call to fight climate change came in the form of the collection ‘Intellectuals Unite’ at Vivienne Westwood, who’s stores display signs imploring customers to, ‘buy less, choosewell, make it last.’ A fascination with fabric and its weighty movement were central to this collection. "We have no choice between a green economy and mass extinction,” said the grand dame on the eve of fashion week. Link:

Following the success of Erdem’s Green Carpet Challenge last year, the designer, known for his detailed craftsmanship, created a collection inspired by a narrative of faded Hollywood glamour. Hand embroidery adorned frilled bibs, doily collars, thick vintage velvets and gowns.

Dramatic opulence continued at Bora Aksu with a collection inspired by The Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia. This collection juxtaposed lavish statements of colour with Folk inspired Turkish shearling and hand embroidered lace, seamlessly blending traditional craft with cutting edge design.

Christopher Raeburn has always had sustainability at his core and the brand embodies luxury and integrity. This season he tore apart and re-seamed old military uniforms as part of a ‘Remade in Britain’ collection, created in collaboration with The Woolmark Company. Merino wool played a central role in this collection.

The British high street brand Boden is committed to ethical trade and supports emerging talent through the initiative, Boden FutureBritish. AT LFW the brand showcased three exciting collections from rising talent.

Footwear designer Camilla Elphick already has a following of fashionistas, with Alexa Chung et al, wearing her quirky, elegant,footwear designs. This season, ‘The Pez’, which is set to be a classic, was back, along with more eye-catching metallics and bold contrasts. All styles are made by artisans in Italy, from sustainably sourced leather.

Le Kilt, inventively combine the traditional techniques of kilt making with a thoroughly modern approach to color and design. This season the collection reflected punk youth, in a bold mix ofScottish tartans and louche styling. All pieces are made in the UK, using traditional craft and manufacturing.

The knitwear designer Caitlin Charles Jones incorporates innovative construction techniques and distinctive block color placement in her work. All yarns are sourced from UK suppliers and the designer fully fashions as much as possible to reduce wastage.

Another rising star in sustainability at LFW was denim designer Faustine Steinmetz, who describes her production process as ‘slow woven beauty’. The self-taught Parisian designer spins, dyes and weaves her own fabrics into re-imagined iconic pieces, resulting in an intellectual approach to designer denim.

Finally, John Smedley presented ‘Spectrum: The Artistry of Knit’ a collection of luxury essentials, emulating the brands passion for craftsmanship. Established in the UK in 1784, John Smedley are the oldest manufacturing factory in the world, still using steam power to craft beautiful, high quality garments that are designed to last.

This year John Smedley collaborated with Holly Fulton and Claire Barrow on their AW16 collections. The contemporary aesthetic of each designer pushed the boundaries of both the designer’s collections and John Smedley production. This is an inspiring example of creative vision driving invention and traditional craftsmanship informing design. Influential relationships and collaborations such as these are fundamental to the future of sustainable fashion.

Christopher Raeburn

Bora Aksu

John Smedley collaboration with Holly Fulton

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