Sophia Kokosalaki lives and works in London's East End. Her studio is right where last year's riots roiled. She watches the kids relaxing in Victoria Park, where, as she says, "you might not have money but your look is important." That's the kind of honest, everyday life that had a big effect on her pre-collection for Diesel Black Gold. The Lurex-threaded knits were the sort of thing Kokosalaki sees on stalls in Broadway Market. There was urban athleticism in a bonded cotton shift with a racer back, or a net tank, or short shorts. A baseball jacket was based on one the designer wore when she was 16 years old (though she revisited it in butter-soft pastel suede). The cocktail dresses paired with trainers felt like a proper Diesel hybrid, but there was also something New Wave-y about the look.
In fact, the eighties weighed heavily on the collection. It's a decade those cash-stretched creatives in her neighborhood are particularly attached to, according to Kokosalaki. So there was a patchworked print inspired by New Wave record sleeves in the Victoria and Albert Museum's Postmodernism exhibition, along with stiff pieces that were a reminder of how structured clothes were back in the day. "Stiff is cooler," Kokosalaki said with a wry laugh as she hauled out a hide-bound biker jacket and black cotton jeans lacquered to look like leather. She also went to the soft end of the eighties spectrum with washed silk jumpsuits and a trench—top half gab, bottom half detachable sheer silk. The kids in Victoria Park mightn't have the money for these pieces, but they'll surely appreciate Kokosalaki's artful evocation of a golden era in inner-city style.