It may be a couple of seasons since we sadly lost trail blazing showcase Esthetica and my favorite place to be found during LFW, but it's pioneering spirit lives on. Amongst the sustainable stylings on offer this LFW were brands that stem from the Esthetica fold, alongside innovative new labels that are carrying the torch for the next generation of conscious brands. Here's my pick from London Fashion Week S/S16.
The breakthrough brand
Fresh from being crowned 'Breakthrough Designer of the Year' at the GQ Men of the Year Awards, Christopher Raeburn's Womenswear collection SARAWAK, inspired by female explorers and the jungle territory of Borneo, felt like his most feminine vision to date. Alongside his signature parachute inspired outerwear, Raeburn gave us beautiful featherlight dresses with sheer panels in naturally died silk, developed by Vanners, one of the few remaining silk mills in the UK.
The jungle vibes extend to his accessories and fans of Raeburn's animal bags will be delighted to hear the new addition to the menagerie is an adorable Orangutan! This collection also sees Raeburn teaming up with classic British brand Clarks to launch a debut footwear collection. Head to toe Raeburn for summer, what could be better!
The NEWGEN designer
Continuing her fascination of reworking everyday staples of our wardrobe,
designer Faustine Steinmetz took denim jackets, sweatshirts and dresses and painstakingly remade them into an oversized, pleated, flower emblazoned collection. Surrealist Salvador Dali's inspiration abounded with the presentation trapping disembodied models in walls, arms and legs poking through inviting the guests to focus on the intricate craftsmanship and construction of the garments. Steinmetz's traditional approach to craftsmanship sees her hand weaving all her fabric in her east London studio and this season she also worked with Spanish denim mill, Royo, recycling old jeans to create her own upcycled pleated and shredded denim. This is cool, contemporary slow fashion at it's best, a proverbial tortoise to fast fashion's hare. She's one to watch.
The luxury collaboration
Green Carpet Challenge by Erdem
Monday night saw Eco Age's Green Carpet Collection launch designer Erdem's Green Carpet Challenge. What is so exciting about Livia's Green Carpet Challenge, which began it's life working with designers from the Estethica stable, is that they fearlessly challenge established designers to consider sustainability, with luxurious results. Erdem's 12 piece collection will be exclusively available in his London store, Barneys, New York and online at Net-a-porter, bringing the sustainable style conversation to a new audience. Green and Glamorous.
Emerging jewellery label Finchittida Finch is a brand on a mission. Inspired by a combination of their Laos-London upbringing, their super cool designs are gathering a cult following, including singer FKA Twiggs, who often takes to the stage adorned with their pieces. Yet the accomplishment that really makes the designers, twins Lisa and Tida, most proud is that through purchase of their designs they and you the customer are helping to clear unexploded bombs across Laos. One piece of jewellery purchased equals 1m2 land made safe. Power dressing indeed.
Finsk, the London based shoe brand from Finnish designer Julia Lundsten, curated a retrospect of iconic styles from over the years and showcased alongside the launch of their Menswear collection for S/S16. Finsk's sculptural wooden heels are inspired by architectural design. Julia says, "I often think of shoes as mini buildings for the feet".
So what can the boys expect from the brand that is redound for it's vertiginous heels? Staying true to the same design principles, the menswear displays clear architectural and graphic inspiration, with the same marriage of sustainably sourced wood and natural materials as the women's pieces. And excitingly, all the men's styles also come in women's sizes too, so we can all share in the fun!
The Knitwear Designer
Knitwear designer Katie Jones presented another master class in how to upcycle with abandon, showcasing a riotous collection that was so colorful it blew her previous 'Granny Takes a Trip' out of the water. A Central Saint Martins graduate, Jones worked for John Galliano, Diane Von Furstenberg and Mark Fast before launching her label in 2014, showcasing as one of Estethica's Emerging Talents. Katie's passion for upcycling drives her brand but it is her playful sense of humor and kaleidoscopic use of colour that radiate throughout her collections that makes these pieces so special. Uber Blogger, Susie Bubble is a fan and Selfridges have just snapped up the collection, so watch out, the colourful star in on the rise.
'Girl Power', the S/S 2016 collection from sustainable and fair-trade pioneers, People Tree marks the next in a series of collaborations with iconic designer Dame Zandra Rhodes. Bringing to life archive prints inspired by her surroundings in the 60's and 70's, this collaboration is a great chance to bag some beautiful Rhodes print at high street prices. A personal favorite is the Lipstick Print. Inspired by a Guy Bourdin advert in French Vogue, it was created in the 60's but still manages to look effortlessly modern. All the pieces are hand-woven and block printed.
Dame Zandra Rhodes comments: "We went for very simple garment shapes that can be both dressed up or dressed down and really show off the printed patterns that we have carefully chosen."
They will be available from People Tree.co.uk as early as February 2016.