London Calling!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

above: Mary Katrantzou for Central Saint Martin's Fall 2008 show

London is indeed calling. Recently, I've been eyeing the shows at London Fashion Week with renewed interest. The British Fashion Council has been quietly nurturing some of fashion's brightest stars and this week, they announced the recipients of the New Gen sponsorship, supported by Topshop, for London Fashion Week in February 2009.

Eight designers are receiving sponsorship for a catwalk show, including Danielle Scutt, House of Holland, Louise Goldin, Meadham Kirchhoff and Peter Pilotto. Three NewGen designers will be making their runway debut for the Fall 2009 show: Mary Katrantzou, Mark Fast and Nasir Mazhar.

I'm looking forward to seeing Katrantzou's creations, as her pieces for Central Saint Martin's Fall 2008 show demonstrated her innovative printmaking technique-- giant necklaces in a digital trompe l'oeil print on brightly colored knit dresses. In addition to Central Saint Martin's, Katrantzou earlier trained at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Mark Fast is another interesting designer to watch, demonstrating that knitwear is the new "it-wear." Fast, who completed his BA and MA at Central Saint Martins, has collaborated with Bora Aksu and has sold his intricately webbed and body-conscious knitwear through Browns Fashion. I first noticed his hauntingly classic designs while browsing Browns online and look forward to see what he will offer for his first NewGen runway collection.

Nasir Mazhar is a name I am not familiar with, but according to his bio on the London Fashion Week website, he is a young ex-hairdresser whose headwear design style evolved from a natural curiosity about shapes and theatrics.

The British Fashion Council, in conjunction with TopShop, has been providing support to new and emerging designers since it introduced the "New Generation" or "New Gen" program in 1993. Recipients receive between 5-10k pounds per season and have an opportunity to show at London Fashion Week's Exhibition, for up to four seasons. Some designers also have a chance to do a catwalk show in the BFC Tent or the BFC New Gen venue.

For longer term support, the BFC Fashion Forward award assists more established designers with international business expansion. The BFC New Gen is a big deal and has a long and buzzworthy list of alum, including Alexander McQueen, Boudicca, Sophia Kokosolaki and Christopher Kane.


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