It’s torrential. My cashmere scarf that I’ve been using in a grandmaesque pseudo-hood fashion is dripping rain into my eyes, and my overcoat has begun to provide me with a distinct decrepit-wet-dog-possibly-with-a-few-skin-disorders aroma. Very fetching (pun intended). Oh, and I’m so late that I’ve surpassed fashionable and must have attained the title of ‘King of Chic’. Despite this, I finally find myself in the queue for Fashion Scout’s ‘Ones to Watch’ show at Freemasons’ Hall. I’m completely miserable, and just when technology is failing me, and I am unable to coerce my pass out of the cruel clutches of the internet, something marvellous happens. The suave gentleman next to me offers his own device to procure my pass. He’s the text book example of ‘dapper’, his mac fits perfectly, printed silk dress-scarf positioned to perfection, he carries a marvellous leather doctor’s briefcase, and he has probably the most exquisite umbrella I’ve ever laid eyes upon. Maybe I was just happy to see any umbrella at all, but it really was bordering on the sublime: a polished walnut handle, and a deep green red and blue pattern that echoed Mr.Dapper’s scarf. We talked for some time, discussing the importance of quality fabrics, and not only did I generally fall in love with him, but I also felt that even if I didn’t get into the show, I had definitely seen some pretty inspirational style on this man.
However, we were ushered into the hall at last, and the show opened with Sarah Ryan, accompanied by whispering vocals layered over jungle beats, contrasting with the classical décor and oil paintings of the surroundings. Ryan’s collection was a beautiful collision of simplicity and intricacy. With a monochrome palette and classic shapes (such as the recurring sleeveless crop-top and pencil skirt) mixing with woven fabrics that were then echoed in the woven reed baskets that doubled as backpacks. The backpacks, despite baring a strong resemblance to black laundry baskets at times, nevertheless added an unusual silhouette to what could have become a beautiful but uninspiring collection.
Following on from the understated Ryan were Carrie-Ann Stein and Hiroko Nakajima. Both designers where unhesitant with their use of a broad colour palette, and some striking shapes, for example Nakajima’s conical hats, yet neither were able to establish a distinct voice, and it seemed replicas of many of the individual garments could of been sourced from the high street.
It was with the final designer, George Styler, which it felt the name of the show was given credence. The collection held an eclectic mix of both colours and fabrics, and yet a fully formed, recognisable and distinctive voice which definitely earns him the title of being ‘one to watch’. As the only one of the designers to incorporate men in his collection, there was also an androgynous quality to the garments. Fuchsia pink and electric blue fur juxtaposed with pom-poms, oriental patterns and beading against the black base of many of the garments. There were moments at which it felt as though what was being displayed here was a master class in embellishment; however this would swiftly be undermined when in walked in a pair of exaggerated shoulder pads crowning a beautifully tailored jacket. Despite Styler’s collection, walking out of the hall I still felt that it was the style of Mr.Dapper, rather than the fashion on the catwalk that was truly the one to watch.