fashion weak: the renegade schedule
From influencer-ridden front row snapping to rogue performances amongst plant pots in desolate locations, it appears that more and more fashion creatives are opting not to adhere to the official LFW schedule. Is this a rebellion against the hierarchy and money driven constructs of fashion week, or perhaps concerns of getting ‘lost in the BFC sauce’ (but is the sauce even that good?).
The sauce seems bittersweet when we look back to the dirty, raw realness of the 90s / noughties hay days; crawling amongst the chaos of the Bricklayers Arms rave scene, McQueen’s debut showcase amongst burning cars in Borough Market and heroin chic’s new love affair with fashion and Brit Pop - it was all popping off. But we look to now - a world that is more and more commercially driven, where brand collaborations are “aggressively being sold @ you on infinite social media platforms by influencers that are false Fashion style Prophets” (Dr. Noki 2022) and fashion week runways ultimately act as a transactional gesture for business rather than a showcase of creativity.
This sense of anemoia (nostalgia for a time you’ve never lived through) is reflective of the current uprising felt from emerging, renegade creatives. As a force born from the disregard felt in the art world during COVID - we seem to be taking matters into our own hands and it's absolutely liberating. We pursue genuine human interaction - an authentic connection with a sense of excitement, purpose and integrity, not bound by the constraints of money or hierarchy. We pave our own path.
Our fashion week kicked off with some on-schedule surprises from Nicholas Daley where a multidisciplinary showcase of music performances from WU-LU, Shy One, Nabihah Iqbal, Riz La Teef and Al Wooton tore down our expectations of a typical ‘runway’ which we thoroughly enjoyed.
Then bleaq beauties Quiet Ceremony and Rosie Evans boasted a bustling showroom on Bond Street alongside other exciting emerging designers with Hundred Showroom - offering LFW goers a chance to get up close and personal by meeting the emerging talents in person.
As Rosie Evans states: “people were more interested in coming and seeing stuff in person, I received really good feedback and it was so nice to actually connect with everyone.”
VIVAL VIRTUEZ' - Mona Cordes
Moving again into the multidisciplinary atmosphere, we were absolutely mesmerized at bleaq’s Mona Cordes ‘Vival Virtuez’ on-schedule showcase. This kaleidoscopic dance performance based on the seven deadly sins was a much needed otherworldly escape amidst the chaos of LFW. As part of our bleaq community, we were keen to probe Mona further on her experience with being on ‘the schedule’ with LFW:
“This is my first ever scheduled showcase with LFW and I have to say I was very skeptical as it’s very expensive for an emerging designer whose expenses are still higher than earnings (especially with no ‘emerging’ discounts either). In the end I don’t regret it as I feel I had to challenge myself and LFW pushed me hard to produce as best as I could. I had a deadline and had to find the venue, casting etc. and be my own marketer too. Doing emails was super overwhelming with me also being in my studio 24/7 ~ I received 1500 emails in the space of 3 weeks. I reached other people and a broader audience which is good!
It still kind of feels corrupt to pay to £*k but I’m glad I tried this.
Definitely a step forward for me!"
"It is also interesting which people reach out I just thought - lots of influencers who think LFW is luxury but it’s not cos designers pay to be on it where LFW itself don’t do anything it’s me organizing everything they just give a platform - but there is no extra promo and yes really it’s hard work getting on there so its not exactly a luxury.”
Ah yes, influencers being taken out of their ‘luxury’ comfort zone and for a ride in the rough and tumble real inner workings of emerging, purpose-driven self-funded showcases. We loved this point Mona made as it suggests our role in this consumption shift is to place onlookers and influencer front-rowers (who wouldn't usually attend alternative showcases such as bleaq creatives) in ‘real’ settings with ‘real’ people. Of course we have to balance this with one's integrity and renegade morals, but where possible we should offer up attainability for the wider public in order to change one's perspective and support the meaning behind the garments and the brand (rather than just the luxury logo). Perhaps this is what ultimately makes a difference?
We then jumped from trying to organize ourselves in the bleak setting of the VIP Buyers & Press Lounge (which felt more like the speedy boarders lounge at Heathrow) to good friend Paul Bert 'London's Burning’ off-schedule showcase in collaboration with the amazing Drew Kent. Knitted, burnt and shredded pieces moved up and down the walkway of underground Bar a Bar whilst a cellist & violinist duo played live solemn sounds to an original eerie track (we were again living for the live music meets fashion vibes).
WHAT EXACTLY ARE YOU WEARING?
The Bleaq crew took a more hands on approach and became happily indoctrinated with #LoNdOnSwAgOnWeEk 22.02.22 - a separate entity runway to LFW. Bleaq’s creative family Shannen Samuel, Gloria Royer, Vinnie Rockins, Karthur, Mabel, Cathy and the iconic duo Princess Julia & Josh Quinton as well as many other close friends and familiar faces both assisted and modeled. This was Dr Noki’s first runway since 2009, so once the rag and overlocker threads of the Renegade Runway had settled - we thought we’d delve in deeper with the masked ikoN;
The ‘new generation’ crowd (consisting of mixed ages and all walks of life) watched eagerly as a handheld speaker was passed from model to model on the concrete balcony of industrious Bermondsey - the movement of music echoing ‘bubbles of noisy sounds’ cast from nonchalant Brighton urbanites. Dr.Noki’s demand to inspire and meet the needs of this new generation perfectly aligns with the creative and moral uprising that bleaq was born from. We, as emerging, maverick creatives are taking matters into our own hands and out of the green-washing claws of the big brands. We have the power of vision, adaptation and originality (as well as each other!).
You haven't done a runway show since 2009 - why now?
"So after 2009 and my entry into the high ‘Fashion East’ arena I decided to back off in order to concentrate on my textile collage Art career and focus on the higher creative inspiration behind my wearable Custom Built art pieces. The Gentle Mutilation renegade runway show ‘What exactly are you Wearing’ was a fresh manifestation that inspired me to join in on his Swagon Week event with my side-kick stylist Kim Howells and inspire my NESTT student Karthur. It was just what I needed to do as there is a new generation wanting exciting sustainability."
I immensely enjoyed seeing the designer’s inspiration unravel through the clothes themselves, bringing to life an interesting narrative. Trochopoulos conveyed an authentic sense of his Greek heritage to London, reclaiming his “concepts, ideas and places” that were once stolen from him due to gender and sexual identity. The designer stated that “Growing up in Greece, any non-cishet expression was sexualised in a really grotesque way”.
To me, the show conveyed a sense of empowerment through authenticity; being of Greek heritage myself, it was refreshing and affirming to see a designer honour his own heritage in an unbridled way- my appreciation was only enhanced by the fact it was a heritage I shared. Trochopoulos’ main inspiration was iconic Greek women of the 20th century, such as Melina Mercouri and Aliki Vougiouklaki. These women all embodied the qualities of the ‘divine feminine’- they possessed wisdom, intuition, and had a sense of purity yet remained steadfast in their own sensuality. It was a joy to see a designer celebrate traditional notions of femininity in a refreshing and new way.
- Cathy Chrysanthou review of George Trochopoulous AW22 “Prologue” collection
3 Words to describe your S-wagon LFW renegade Runway with Gentle Mutilation
"My personal mantra is - Rejection Breeds Reinvention...
it felt like that energy was flowing."
Can you see any similarities between the uprising of current custom / rogue / renegade showcases in accordance to back in the 90s / 2000s? Where did it go wrong?
Back in the 90’s pre internet!! I was the complete freak in a sob mask aggressively breaking all the unofficial brand mash up rules in order to ‘Custom Build’ new ideas in textile collage art. We now have official brand collaborations masked as polite ‘MashUp’s’ aggressively being sold @ you on infinite social media platforms, by influencers that are false Fashion style Prophets - this unfortunately Green Washes mash up history that is 4 the people not against the people, therefore greenwashing the sustainability for the new Youth who could be Custom Building a landfill drop for their own postcode community crews... I just feel new youth are too intimidated by the hard brand marketeering to feel like they can unofficially customize their own clothing, rather than buy Brand NEW ..
Thoughts on LFW?
“LFW is VERY important, it just depends what show’s you choose to endorse."
So whether it be on, off or in opposition of the ‘schedule’ - who will you endorse? Will you delve deeper in search of that genuine connection between creator and creation - or play it ‘safe’ with the false fashion style profits of the big brand logos?
Additional big ups to
Tag & the gang
LONDONS BURNING Hair artist (and un-official bleaq hairstylist) Amy Melbourne