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.

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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