Whenever I read or hear about London Fashion Week, one particular event keeps reappearing: The La Genève North Events ‘A la Mode’ Catwalk show, which took place on Friday 16th and Saturday 17th September at the Charing Cross Hotel in Strand. The event offers a platform for up and coming, independent designers to showcase their collections to press, celebrities and potential customers. The line up included a wide variety of brands, some of which were newcomers. The Friday night featured: Alja Slemensek, Anniss, Bint Thani, Malam, Mansoor, Nad Lynski and Omar Mansoor.
Unfortunately, I myself was not at London Fashion Week. However, a friend was working as a photographer there and got some great shots of the Friday night ‘A la Mode’ Catwalk show and, after studying the collections I have made my verdict. The three designers that stood out the most for me were Anniss, Bint Thani and Kaveke.
Polish designer Anna Syczewska-Grabowska is relatively new to the fashion world after leaving her career as an artist to launch her label ‘Anniss’ in 2010. The designer studied sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow and is also influenced by husband Arti Grabowska, who is a recognised performance artist. Grabowska’s artistic background is instantly identifiable in her unique, avant-garde statement pieces which are based around body language in gestures and poses and are characterised by clashing fabrics.
The designer’s S/S LFW 2012 collection, which included both men and womens clothing, was built upon the theme of classic styles and featured hand made shoes designed by the Cockney Company in Krakow. Grabowska’s pieces deconstructed and redefined the classic theme, adding attitude and edge to traditional looks. In keeping with the classic style most pieces were prominently black and white. A favourite of mine was Grabowska’s take on wedding dress in her bride and groom outfits. The classic white dress with train and over-the-face veil was replaced by a sharp, cropped blazer with white hot pants and a matching netted train and headpiece. The edgy bride was paired with a slick groom dressed in traditional top hat and suit jacket, which was modernised with pleated, chiffon coattails and striped trousers.
The Anniss collection deviated from that of the other designers for it’s truly unique take on traditional tailoring.
Dubai based brand Bint Thani is a fashion label that contains both delicacy and edge. Brand Owner Khulood Althani is a top business man as well as fashion designer and was the first UAE to have graduated with a Masters degree in fashion managing and marketing at the noted ESMOD Paris. Althani’s experience of studying both at Paris and at London College of Fashion is significant to the designer’s creativity as his collections combine the fashionable history of both cities. This is apparent in their Parisian elegance of high fashion couture and their trendy, high street appeal.
The designer’s womenswear collection displayed at LFW stayed true to Althani’s roots as it contained both the young, feminine feel of the London high street and the timeless class of Parisian couture. The collection opened with girly dresses clad in lace, featuring soft blues and baby pinks. As the display drew to a close, the outfits aged as the soft maxi dresses were replaced by more shapely, mature pieces which were mostly in black and white. The Alice in Wonderland tea party theme surrounding the collection, evident in the watches sown into necklines and waistbands, gave Althani’s outfits more distinction from those of the other designers.
Kenyan designer John Kaveke is committed to creating flattering, functional and affordable fashion for both men and women. The designer studied fashion design both in Kenya and in Spain and gained experience working as a designer for other labels before rising to the challenge of forming his own. Since launching Kaveke, John has been involved in a number of prestigious projects including the International Smirnoff Fashion Awards, M-Net’s Face of Africa 2001, National Dress Design Team. Sarajevo Fashion Week, Catwalk Kenya and FAFA Kenya 2008 and 2009.
Kaveke takes inspiration from his homeland in his tribal, African themes whilst factoring in that all important cosmopolitan flair, which opens his clothing up to a wider range of consumers. The designer’s outfits are like no other in that they are designed specifically for each customer to ensure that they flatter. Kaveke’s clothing is highly distinctive due to the use of handmade beads in his designs, which are produced by Maasai and were traditionally intended for jewellery. The designer’s clothing is aimed at those inspired by originality and not trends. They are ideal for the bold, fashionable, modern men and dynamic, passionate women.
Kaveke’s LFW S/S 2012 collection called ‘The Swords of Savannah’ was inspired by the old colonial era and kept with the liveliness apparent in all Kaveke clothing. The designs combined traditional East African Kanga with satin, linens and the staple Maasai beads. The summer reds, purples, blues, whites and yellows alongside these fabrics created perfect, truly individual outfits. The tailored suits for men were a personal favourite as the subtle patterned Kanga strips on the inner side of the leg transformed a conventional suit into a bold contemporary piece.
Photos by Laura McKinnon Photography