"Fashion needs fresh blood, and London is the most creative place for that," said Donatella Versace in the backstage VIP room. She'd just flown in to chair the proceedings at the Fashion Fringe competition in Covent Gardenthis despite the fact that her own show is only days away. Why would she take the time? "I always need to challenge myself as well," she said.
To rewind a bit, Fashion Fringe is the London competition conceived five years ago by the journalist Colin McDowell along the general lines of Simon Fuller's American Idol. Newcomers, who need to be domiciled in the U.K., are vetted by a panel of industry experts, then set up in studios, and helped to produce sample collections. During fashion week, they compete against one another in a press show, after which a single winner is announced. Erdem, Basso & Brooke, and Sinha-Stanic are all Fringe alumni.
This time, the Korean designer Eun Jeong Hong took the prize for an all-white collection of tiered-lace pieces and Grecian tunicsan accolade that will propel her fledging label Go By A Secret Path to instant visibility. The other contestants, Sarah Easom (a talented print designer whose collection was inspired by exotic birds), LF Markey (whose stiff, color-blocked shapes were inspired by Elizabethan costume), and William Tempest (va-va-voom corseted dresses), may or may not surface again, but their varying tastes flag up the things young Londoners are loving now: full-on print, intense color, and eighties glamour.