If there's one image that sums up the razzy side of London's energy now, it's this: Agyness Deyn, ripping down the runway in a studded patent maroon-and-mustard hot-pants set, opening Henry Holland's second show under the Fashion East umbrella. You can't hear the roars in the photograph, but the place, a scuzzy vacant East End warehouse, was packed to the paint-peeling rafters with every dressed-up club kid, tranny, and student in townthere to honor the boy designer and his best friend, the choppy bottle blonde, who in the past year has glided to international fame on Vogue covers. Note: She wasn't wearing a saucy, rhyming slogan T-shirt.
Holland, in spite of his party-boy status, had actually knuckled down to some work. Nagged by members of his circle, he got the message that, after triggering a much ripped-off trend, he needed to move on. "A friend of mine went down to the Vogue library and found all these early nineties pictures of Stephanie Seymour and Axl Rose. I thought they looked so brilliant," he said. The words "a friend of mine" are the ones to note here, just as much as the hilarious heavy-metal theme, which produced tie-dyed, hyper-color prints for T-shirts, body dresses, and rubber swimwear bits and pieces. Holland had pulled in a backup band of London-based accessory acesStuart Vevers (he of Mulberry, soon to be at Loewe) on bags, Katie Hillier (she of Marc by Marc) on knuckle-dusters and earrings, Linda Farrow Vintage on sunglasses, and newcomer Atalanta Weber on wicked glossy spike-winged wedges. As a moment, it put the spotlight on the collaborative energy coming out of this citytransient, maybe, but for now, at least, rooted in a "just do it" level of professionalism that was really quite a surprise.
Just out of London's Central Saint Martins' M.A. degree course, Louise Gray is a Scottish textile designer with a strong flair for color. She went to graduate school eager to blow the stuffiness out of embroidery, and for her that means experimenting with chiffon and using it in vivid combinations of lemon and turquoise, emerald and gray, cobalt and flesh, and peach and navy. Her shift dresses came with multilayered geometric decorationsdiscs, triangles, and squarespinned on with cheap trinket components and hardware bought in the local DIY store. She has a look that's simple to wear (if you're not self-conscious about things dangling from your breast area) and has a ways to develop. But as one of the new hardworking Scots who is shaking up Londonafter Christopher Kane and Jonathan Saundersshe's someone to watch.
When you see a person with a towering pile of wig, a painted germ-protecting mask, and a shredded T-shirt reading "HAVE YOU EVOLVED?" coming at you down a runway, you know you're not in for fashion as you know it. With London's pioneer underground recycler, the "ragger" JJ Hudson, for a designer, the Noki House of Sustainability message is one of corporate rage, urban tribalism, and quite a bit of camp fun. "I'm the dark side of Green," he says. Shredded heavy-metal tour T-shirts and chopped-up superhero and Mickey Mouse play clothes are the materials, along with reappropriated Burberry-style check shirts and argyle socks with the diamonds cut out. Cheesy eighties taffeta cocktail dresses were sewn to the bottoms of tees to make travesty "evening gowns." Needless to say, this is all very editorial for a certain magazine sect, but Noki is not up for sales. What he wants, instead, is for young people to copy his work, "because everyone can do it for themselves."