Fashion Utopias: International Fashion Showcase 2016
Wandering around Soho during London Fashion Week was like stepping into another world. It was a chaotic scene.
Street style photographers, curious tourists and impatient traffic, all competing to manoeuvre the narrow streets tucked away behind the bright lights of Piccadilly Circus.
Although people watching wasn't my main reason for going to London, the chance of actually witnessing and experiencing fashion week was too tempting.
I even managed to get snapped by a street style photographer!
(Shout out to my dad for the awesome Canadian airforce jacket)
After that excitement, I decided to leave the chaos of Soho and head across London for the real purpose of my visit.
My destination was Somerset House, and the International Fashion Showcase 2016 which was being held there.
The theme of this year's showcase was Fashion Utopias.
The showcase consisted of a series of "specially commissioned and curated fashion installations featuring work be emerging designers from 24 countries"
The exhibit had been created by the British Council alongside the British Fashion Council and formed part of the LFW public programme, a city-wide celebration of fashion that is open to everyone.
One of the aims of the exhibit was the idea of "combating global forces with creative endeavour"
This was something I felt was particularly reflected by designers from Ukraine.
In Ukraine, revolution, conflict and economic crisis have only served to further drive young fashion designers.
The excessive regulation in Ukraine, combined with a lack of state support and outdated fashion skills training means that up-and-coming designers have to fight to get ahead.
As a result, the collections were colourful and vibrant. Injecting a sense of optimism into a difficult reality.
Another theme which I felt ran through a number of the collections was an idea of regeneration.
Taking something mundane, and then reimagining it into something both fashionable and wearable.
My favourite example of this was the reconditioning of old tents into jackets by one of the Portuguese designers.
Incorporating the tent poles and vents into the jackets gave them a playful, almost humorous dimension.
The juxtaposition between the modern tent jackets and the traditional woollen Portuguese coats underneath them, made the collection even more captivating and also created a sense of cohesion between the past and present.
For me, this collection stood out. I was intrigued by the ingenuity of the jackets. They were fun and emphasised the more light-hearted side of fashion.
Other "recycled" pieces included a tape measure dress
And shoes, which had soles made of old colouring pencils.
They look awesome but I'm not sure how easy it would be to walk in them!
Something else which stood out was the inclusion of 'modest' fashion.
Designers from countries such as Saudia Arabia, Indonesia, and the UEA, created modern interpretations of their country's traditional modest clothing.
Embellishments, colour and prints made each piece eye-catching and unique.
As one of the designers explained "the exhibition forwards the view that in order to grow, we must return to our collective and cultural roots. The result is a nourishing and sustainable harmony of modesty and the avant-garde"
The showcase was amazing.
It opened my eyes to both the wealth of talent and diversity which young fashion designers have.
The best part for me was how each designer incorporated inspiration, and traditional designs and techniques from their own country into their collections. It helped give the showcase a truly international feel.