Upstaged: the best sets from London Fashion Week

Arguably, a good set is a sure sign of a good show.  And at this past London Fashion Week, Anya Hindmarch, Wales Bonner and Mother of Pearl certainly proved this to be the case.  Among the best sets fashion week had to offer, Anya Hindmarch produced an interactive art installation, Wales Bonner created a complicated cross-disciplinary show and Mother of Pearl used decor to advocate for sustainability in fashion.

Anya Hindmarch

Image: Dezeen

In keeping with her history of statement sets, Anya Hindmarch exhibited an equally creative addition this fashion week.  The Weave Project, installed in the Brewer Street car park in Soho, was an immersive set comprised of a giant woven net of tunnels which invites attendees to get climbing.  It was created by the artist collective Numen/For Use in response to the relaunch of the Neeson collection: a customisable selection of hand-woven bags.  “We want all our brand experiences to be interactive, and to involve our customers.  It’s interesting actually how different it looks from the inside, spatially.” Hindmarch said to Vogue.  “It’s meant to help you unwind, feel like a child again.”  The installation injects some fun into the otherwise serious spectacle that is fashion week whilst illustrating how ahead of the crowd Anya Hindmarch is terms of innovation and experimentation. 

Wales Bonner

Image: Harper’s Bazaar

Grace Wales Bonner sees fashion as a means to understanding her heritage, and this is clearly emphasised in her collection this past fashion week.  Set in The Serpentine Sackler Gallery, the presentation was unusual in that it was an exhibition that culminated in a runway show.  The title of the exhibition, ‘A Time For New Dreams’, is taken from Ben Okri’s volume of essays, and is just one of many collaborations from multiple disciplines and genres for the collection. The exhibition centres on the shrine as a way for imagining multiple worlds and different possibilities, reflecting black cultural rituals and practices.  These ideas are displayed in the collection (dedicated to outsider artist James Hampton who was the collection’s inspiration) which explored the different figures of the black intellectual and a shaman artist, in the worlds they inhabit.  The exhibition and show were complemented by a musical accompaniment by Mr. Reed and Ben Okri recited a poem he had written for the occasion.  Having made the transition to womenswear for the first time, Wales Bonner impressed with this cross-disciplinary and multi-sensory display that creates a new movement connecting fashion to history, art and black culture.

Mother of Pearl

Sustainability is perhaps fashion’s favourite word right now as the burgeoning need for sustainable clothes becomes apparent.  With this collection, Mother of Pearl joins the ranks of other high fashion brands becoming more environmentally friendly.  And they decided to do so in perhaps the most unique way: with a ball pit.  “It’s about trying to make sustainability fun, really,” creative director Amy Powney tells Vogue. “I wanted to use them to draw attention to the big problem the fashion industry has with micro-plastics due to synthetic fibres – every time you wash them, they release plastic into our oceans, which is why we use natural fibres.  But the aim was to try to make it more experiential rather than just lecturing about how we’re destroying the planet.” The rising tower of pearl balls contrasted beautifully with the backdrop of the deconsecrated church and certainly created a lasting impact.  But this is not the only sustainable effort Mother of Pearl have undertaken.  Recently, Powney announced a partnership with BBC Earth to draw attention to how both designers and consumers can make more sustainable fashion choices.  And if that wasn’t enough, in June she’ll release a sustainable and cruelty-free evening wear collection. 

By Freya Alsop

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