Filling Fashion Week’s White Space-------
“I’m really interested in promoting young designers and bringing them together,” explained curator and stylist Alison Brokaw of her interest in The White Space. The project, a three-day showcase of four emerging designers at Jeff and Justine Koons’ West Chelsea studio produced by Brokaw represents a concerted attempt to shine a spotlight on new talent during a week when, amid 250-plus presentations and runway shows, it’s become near impossible for nonestablished brands to attract substantial industry attention. The idea behind White Space is simple: “If you bring everyone together, you’re going to get more traffic, you’re going to get more people through the door,” said Brokaw. “We’ve had all the majors through, [meeting the designers] and giving them feedback. It’s been a very, very positive experience.”
The four designers on view come from diverse backgrounds. Wadha Al Hajri (above) is a Qatari womenswear designer with a sharply architectural aesthetic that features cutout-heavy, hand-embroidered black-and-white woven separates; Brokaw found her on a sales trip to the Middle East. “My collections are always inspired by my heritage and my background,” Al Hajri offered. “Working in Qatar is challenging—there are no pattern cutters!—but it’s integral to my vision.”
Handbag designer Lee Savage (above), a Savannah, Georgia, native, gives us solid brass, lamb-lined and leather-coated geometric evening clutches, this season inspired by the minimalist creations of Donald Judd. “Because my background is in interiors, everything is very architecturally based,” said Savage of her hyper-sculptural accessories, which are carried at Barneys and on Net-a-Porter. She’s hoping to attract the attention of a few other buyers through the showcase.
Kashmiri scarf designer Yaser Shaw runs his family’s generations-old, traditional fabric manufacturing workshop in the Himalayan mountains. He collaborates with local artisans, helping them select colors and patterns (this season inspired by the work of Josef Albers and 17th-century Central Asian architecture) as they spend three weeks weaving each set of six shawls.
English designer Anjhe Mules (one of the costume designers for The Hunger Games) of technical sportswear line Lucas Hugh rounds out the group. “It’s technical sportswear with a high-fashion twist,” she explained. “Everything is styled to make you look slimmer, and there is support as well through the waist and the bum. The aesthetic is a little edgier.”
“Everyone’s doing something different, so there’s really no competition,” said Brokaw. “It’s great to bring everyone together and focus on these three days the magic happens.”