Palmer//Harding papercuts

Autumn/Winter for the Palmer//Harding design duo is all about paper. Fresh, white, crisp, clean, structural yet free paper. Paper with highlighter details. The textures of paper: shredded, fringed, folded. Get the picture? It’s all about paper, sartorially-minded friends. Who knew that paper could be so diverse, delicious and wearable? Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding, that’s who.

The pair are based in London, where they both studied at Central Saint Martins; Palmer has a BA in menswear, and Harding both a BA and MA in womenswear, meaning they’re the ideal team to bring a masculine edge to women’s pieces, and a soft femininity to their men’s collections. They debuted back in 2011, using the simple white shirt as a starting block to launch themselves into the world of London Fashion Week. It worked, and the fashion community have taken notice of the young designers.

Their Autumn/Winter 2014-2015 collection showed progression in the creativity of their covetable designs. The white shirt was still a key feature – it revealed its many forms in 12 different looks – but the pair moved onto new silhouettes, exploring flowing silk trousers and structural miniskirts. The forms were made more impressive by the very clear theme running throughout the collection: the aforementioned paper. We saw a strong identity throughout the 28 looks, which showcased the pair’s skills in manipulating fabrics and making a concept effortlessly wearable.

Did you ever think you’d want to sport shredded paper and a paperclip accessory? Think again. With hand-cut suede and leather, a modern look at fringing, and flashes of highlighter yellow, Palmer//Harding have made women want to wear the items found on their desks. Watch the show, and see how in one look the fabric flutters as a sheet of paper does in a light breeze, another shows its more rigid structures and Palmer and Harding explore the humble shredder via a multitude of glorious skirts, including a particular favourite oily purple number. There is huge attention to detail: at the London Showrooms in Paris, Levi Palmer explained that the shred-effect pieces are hand-cut, as lasers leave an undesirable black outline. After this painstakingly meticulous process, they then painted the tips bright yellow  to get the vibrant effect of a highlighter making its neon mark across virgin territories, also shown in the use of strips of neon mesh across crumples of fabric, and in the accessories worn around models’ necks – and it was a refreshingly diverse mix of girls who walked the show.

Palmer//Harding

Hand-cut suede with highlighter detail skirt

Palmer//Harding

Camel, white and highlighter yellow skirt

Palmer//Harding

Hand-cut oil-slick purple miniskirt details

This is a brand to watch. If they can make the humble sheet of paper and a highlighter look this good, I personally can’t wait for seasons to come.

Images from Fashion(Ed) In London’s Instagram.

The Louis Verdict

Yesterday in Paris, a slice of fashion history happened: Ghesquière showed his first collection since leaving Balenciaga as creative director, stepping in to fill those prestigious shoes left by Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton. In the grand scheme of things, what with the Ukraine situation or announcement of a Kardashian-West wedding date, this may not seem the most important event of late to some (N.B. the Kimye reference is clearly a joke). However, with all the buzz going on, you wouldn’t have guessed it. Often touted as the designer of his generation, Ghesquière possesses an incredible talent and did a sterling job at Balenciaga, leaving the house with a near-perfect collection of modern silhouettes with a Cristobal signature. After a period of silence from him on the designing front, during which he conducted a very candid interview with System magazine, it was joyously announced that Nicolas Ghesquière was to pick up where Marc Jacobs was leaving off, at the creative helm of the jewel in LVMH’s crown: Louis Vuitton.

Louis Vuitton Autumn/Winter 2014-2015

Usually, when a designer takes over creative direction of a house, they have access to a wealth of history and deep archives, plummeting the depths to draw inspiration from the core fabric of the brand, as Wang did post-Ghesquière at Balenciaga, or Raf at Dior. For Nicolas though, he came to a semi-clean slate. Louis Vuitton is relatively young as a ready-to-wear label, with Marc Jacobs as his only predecessor since the late Nineties. Marc Jacobs did an unforgettable job at bringing the leather goods brands to the forefront of fashion, creating patent leather and presenting the most elaborate of shows, featuring lifts, elevators, carousels and more, none of which ever detracted from his beautiful collections.

Louis Vuitton Autumn/Winter 2014-2015

Wednesday’s show was a total break from that side of the brand, as Nicolas chose a stark, clean space to unveil his first steps. The blinds were lifted and natural light flooded into the room, echoing the new era. From the setting to the music, it was a very carefully thought out show on Ghesquière’s part, with Kelis singing “Oh come here, copycat! You’re my puppet, you know I love it!” as Freja Beha Erichsen stepped out in the first look. As a designer who has entire blogs dedicated to the fact that his Balenciaga designs are constantly being ripped off, it was a humourous and poignant song, including the apt lyrics “How do you keep it so fresh?”.

Louis Vuitton Autumn/Winter 2014-2015

As for the collection itself, the French designer kept the brand’s money makers in there: patent ankle boots, little bags, leather belts and the all-new mini trunk bag. He referenced some of Jacobs’ work, bringing a new high-waisted trouser silhouette out in patent leather. There was nothing there to shock or make a statement, instead he chose to quietly say, “I’m back, and these are clothes women want to wear.” And he was right. Ghesquière’s Vuitton girl is cool, laid back, modern and fresh. She wears a lot of leather and suede (of course, they are the brand’s key fabrics), in clean lines with a slight retro feel. The very fact that he chose Freja Beha Erichsen to open the show set the tone immediately. There is no model who can better encapsulate that oh-so-awful word, cool. But here the word wasn’t awful. This isn’t the cool girl in school who everyone pretends to like whilst secretly despising them and their awful attitude, this is the inherently cool girl who is laid back, lovely, effortless and has that edge that we crave. It was mirrored in the beauty look too, or fact that there wasn’t one. She hadn’t quite rolled out of bed, but the models were naturally beautiful, no threatening eye make-up, no unattainable hair. Therein lies the key word: attainable. The collection was a quiet success because we were left wanting to be her and knowing that we can be. It’s hard to be the Anthony Vaccarello sex bomb or Rodarte princess, but you can walk out the house a Vuitton girl, and that’s something to be happy about.

Louis Vuitton Autumn/Winter 2014-2015

There was no big finish to the show, no stand out piece to wrap it up, instead a collection of leather skirts, layered looks, Chelsea boots, polo necks (trend alert) and asymmetrical fabrics. At shows these days, designers create incredible fantasy worlds and stories and in some way it was refreshing to have just the clothes, and be shocked by simplicity, and not outrageousness. I’m all for innovation and creativity, but given the choice between the most incredible set for a disappointingly ugly collection and no set for a wearable collection, there’s a clear winner. Whilst some have been left a little disappointed, saying the collection was “nothing”, it’s hard to argue against a collection that is wearable, real and now. An understated start perhaps, but one that will no doubt go down a storm commercially.

Louis Vuitton Autumn/Winter 2014-2015

See the show here.
Listen to Kelis here.

Images from Style.com.

London Showrooms Autumn/Winter 2014-2015

London ShowroomsThe London Showrooms in Paris, a space where the up and coming designers on the eclectic British scene bring their collections during Paris Fashion Week, providing press and buyers a chance to (re)see them post London Fashion Week. Marques Almeida, J JS Lee, Michael van der Ham, Piers Atkinson, KTZ, Todd Lynn, Fashion East, David Koma, 1205, Christopher Raeburn, Sibling, Holly Fulton, Claire Barrow, Danielle Romeril, Nasir Mazhar, Ryan Lo, and a standout collection from Palmer//Harding were all on show in a modern Marais space until yesterday.

Important and enchanting as the runway show is, you get a much better sense of pieces when they’re in front of you and you are able to touch and feel them. The graphic qualities and innovation show through in a way that can only be experienced up close and personal. Take Danielle Romeril for example: she created a collection that had a Christopher Kane circa Autumn/Winter 2011 feel, complete with curved plastic trims that had such a graphic quality as could never be captured on camera or film, hard as you try. Using lenticular, Danielle printed it with polka dots in alternating strips that when looked at, seemed to be 3D and at different levels, but it was all flat. Trippy to the extreme, and a detail that can only be captured up close with the eyes. It gave such a detailed insight into just how innovative, imaginative and thoughtful London designers are. In London, bad taste, clashing prints, loud colours and modernity are all embraced and encouraged, and at the London Showrooms, they were on full display, from Marques’Almeida’s red feathers to Todd Lynn’s neon-tipped fur, all via the colour and ruffle mayhem of Ryan Lo.

It’s meeting some of the designers that is perhaps most valuable reason for popping along: show notes are one thing, but a face-to-face with one of the people behind it, to whom each piece is so personal, is another altogether. The Palmer//Harding collection, for example, was interesting to browse through, full of texture and flashes of colour, however, when one half of the design duo, Levi Palmer, started talking about it and explaining the inspirations behind it, the collection took on a whole new significance. Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding looked to paper for Autumn/Winter 2014-2015, playing with it in all its forms: ripped, shredded, scrunched, smooth. The shredding caught their creative eye, forming a hand-cut white suede skirt, soft, beautiful, 3D. Next, highlighters grabbed their attention, specifically the marks they leave on paper and the way the neon stands out against bright white. Another hand-cut skirt was created, this time with the ends of each strand of suede dipped in highlighter-bright yellow. Strips of neon mesh were plastered over scrunched white fabric like a discarded piece of highlighted paper, and, most subtle and clever of all, a white pencil skirt made of a white stretch fabric with very fine slits featured the same vibrant yellow as an underskirt, meaning that as the wearer walks, quick jolts of lively colour shine through. Would you get all this from just looking at the collection alone? Most likely not. If there is one reason to go to a showroom alone, it is in the hope that the designer will be there, breathing life into his or her collection.

With so many collections together in one room, it’s hard not to pick up on a few trends that appear as a thread throughout the inventive offerings. So, what will the London girl be wearing next season? Pleats, metallics, leather galore and fabrics that make a statement, be it feathers, snaggle fur, plastic or something that looks like shredded paper.

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