Kingston at LFW, 2014

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Lamenting the absence of a Central Saint Martins MA show this season (well, every S/S season), I suddenly perked up yesterday morning when my eyes saw Kingston University (Stacey Grant-Canham [nee Grant]’s alma mater) on the list of past shows at the already finished LFW. And while last year just one student in particular caught my eye (one Barry Jude), this year two have put me on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what’s next from them. First up is Marilina Tsitsa. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure why the first look was so interesting to look at, until my man took a look at my screen and said ‘it’s a half-backwards Barbie – it’s a Barbie front butt.’ Yep, so it is…or at least it looks like it is. (Some things you can’t unsee, brah!) But really, it’s genius. Instead of focusing attention on each individual model’s body (which in a way invites the viewer to at least unconsciously critique it/compare it to the other models), with the blank-slate bodysuit, each look is given the same exact starting point, and it’s the model’s face that gives each piece it’s personality. Makes it a whole lot easier to imagine yourself in any of the pieces too, with the full spectrum of (facial) skin tones and hair styles. Anyway, Barbie-base aside, the coats are absolutely beautiful. And with the handy zoom function on UK Vogue, you can see that each piece is not just an expertly crafted take on the trench coat, but each has an unexpected detail, such as belted arms, patches, beading (on the red piece, above), a sorta creepy print, and a 3D appliqué (of a…devil/dragon tail?) (see below). This is definitely the type of collection where you need to see the entire piece, 360 degrees around, so I’m hoping photos of at least the backs of Marilina’s collection will be available somewhere. (At the very least, each of the eight looks have to be seen even at the small size that UK Vogue gives us, so if you have a normal-sized screen, apologies for the uneven rows.)

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Second is Syed Shahid Nisar. If you see the first piece Syed sent down the runway, then you’d pick up the obvious ethnic element running throughout the collection. However, that look is NSFW (hence I’m unevenly posting only eight of Syed’s nine looks), so I had quickly clicked onto the next look and missed the point my first time through the photos. Then, forgetting that UK Vogue has the brilliant zoom function, with the houndstooth and striking masks from the second look on and then the three fantastic 3D shapes in the middle of the collection, all I was thinking was (Lee McQueen’s and Sarah Burton’s) McQueen-meets-Comme des Garçons.

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But when I finally noticed the Arabic script on the sixth (and first, second, and last) look(s), I realized there was a whole lot more going on here. As the Kingston MA Fashion course leader Andrew Ibi explained, “This year’s show was called Amendment because of the strong theme of re-evaluation running through the collections. The graduating students were interested in exploring how design could be used as a catalyst to alter ideas and change perceptions of life and culture. They were a group questioning their very subject and using fashion as a medium to start conversations about culture, art, architecture and even politics and religion.” I’m not entirely sure what Syed’s particular angle was with his collection, but the beauty of it comes across no problem. I do hope to find and update this post with an explanation of the inspiration and story behind the collection, but in the meantime, just look at these details from Syed’s collection.

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(Photos via UK Vogue)