"We have to make sure we nurture and support raw talent," said John Galliano at tonight's Fashion Fringe event, which he attended as honorary chair. That's obviously a necessity with which the London fashion legend is intimate, having benefited from a few generous, though informal supporters in the struggle of his early days. After the three finalists—Corrie Nielsen, Alice Palmer, and Jade Kang—showed their collections, Fringe founder Colin McDowell called the choice "a serious deliberation."
Nevertheless, someone's got to win, and the prize of the night went to Nielsen, an American and Vivienne Westwood alum, whose wildly romantic collection, called Georgian Satires, was actually based on a mockery of French and English aristocrats. But you could see how the exaggerated eighteenth-century bustles and deconstructed mourning suits might make a dyed-in-the-wool lover of fashion history like Galliano sit up and pay attention. Though Nielsen's work also showed evidence of Rei Kawakubo fandom in the stuffing she used to create her distorted silhouette.
Her fellow contender Alice Palmer's collection, called Fossil Warriors, was as neat and sharp as a pin. The Scottish native took a single great idea—a bicolor, accordion-pleated Lurex knit—and draped and sculpted it into dresses and gowns that looked a bit like beautiful alien vertebrae, but were wearable to a frock.
There was also a sci-fi slant to Korean-born Jade Kang's collection, called Vibe. He draped his architecturally paneled body-con tailoring with lengths of silk, tulle, and chiffon, all in orange Creamsicle colors. A strapless bustier dress covered sarilike with coral silk was the best of the bunch, but the study in hard and soft needed more development.