Audaciously Feminine: Charlotte Knowles AW/19 Collection

After London Fashion Week AW/19 saw a focus on dressing up the hair to outdress the body, Lydia Flack brings you a nifty guide to shopping the looks without paying the price. 

Charlotte Knowles creates more than just clothes, she forms intricate sculptures of fabric which are best displayed on the body. For her latest ready-to-wear collection, critics hailed Knowles as pragmatic  while still managing to exert the artistic rigour that brought her earlier, more fantastical work into the spotlight. 

This shift is undoubtedly due to this being the designer’s final collection under the protective wing of the fashion incubator London East, thus inevitably meaning greater pressure on future collections being commercial as well as critical successes. Knowles continued to refine her eponymous brand’s visual lexicon, subverting traditional garments inextricably linked with female intimacy and oppression and reworking them into sensual garments of empowerment. 

Bra shapes, suspender straps and other traditionally intimate and whimsical objects are radicalised when fashioned out of puffer and tweed to become protective outerwear, an unashamedly sensual armour. This tension felt almost like a debate on female sexuality being landscaped on the body itself. The complexity of fabric manipulation was impressive, yet the designs remained humble enough to allow such craftmanship to appear effortless and organic, hiding the precision and technical skill it undoubtedly required. 

Whilst these more explicit reworkings mean Knowles’ artistry is evidenced from the first glance, it is in the subtler details that the designer shines and stands apart from the rest. Pockets are plentiful, both discrete and overtly zippered and external. Whilst Knowles’ aesthetic is undoubtedly personal, her functionality seems unabashedly focused on the needs of her clients. Toggles allow for garments to be cinched and adjusted to each woman’s body. Indeed, the use of both toggles and athletic-style crotch seams on many trousers allows subtle levels of athleisure to diffuse into the collection. When counterpointed with the aforementioned sexual feminine elements, Knowles succeeds completely in capturing her self-proclaimed aesthetic of “Assertive. Future. Feminine.” 

The designer has previously said that being part of Fashion East was intended to enable designers to “grow and walk on their own”, however, this seems to be somewhat of an understatement in Knowles’ case. If she can continue to successfully diffuse her unique sensuality into garments whilst keeping them functional enough for a ready to wear audience, she is sure to fly.

Image: Dazed