The theme for last night’s Premium Runway 1 was undeniably girl power.
In line with the current feminist movement in fashion at the moment, the theme could be spotted in each collection, albeit in a number of subtle ways.
Scanlan Theodore opened the show with a striking lineup, proving the label is very much on the pulse of what women want. As usual, there was an exploration of texture. This season saw croc-style embossing, tinselled yarn and emboidery, sitting alongside the label’s expected use of leather, feathers and wool. New season updates came via a rich colour palette of emerald, olive and navy, with hints of bright red also featuring. A cropped puffer jacket was a nod to Balenciaga’s hold on the current fashion climate, while Zimmermann-esque dresses proved the timelessness of a floaty, floral number. The influences here were bang on. However, the wearability of individual pieces was somewhat less so.
Next up was Bassike, whose name was met with an excited murmur from showgoers. Same, if I’m honest. The opening look was a double denim ensemble, with its utilitarian styling representing a boiler suit. From there, the label showed us why it continues to hold relevance in wardrobes. Like the name itself, Bassike puts a contemporary spin on the basics. For the new season, almost all design elements were elongated: crotches were dropped, sleeves were lengthened, shoulders were lowered and hems hung low. An understated palette featured largely neutral tones, while the label retained its signature undone-ness through raw hemlines. This was further personified by a blazer that, with its minimal buttons and clean lines, looked unfinished.
Albus Lumen came next, striking a chord with the crowd from its opening look: a trench-style jacket with no pants. Yes. It pretty much summed up the collection which, for want of many more refined words, can best be described as structured, undone and sexy. Use of suede added structure to otherwise minimal shapes, while elongated cuts prevented styles from becoming all too boxy.
The music then switched to a decidedly dirtier beat, fitting for Strateas.Carlucci. Season on season, the boys find strength in androgyny and their current collection is no exception. The most striking looks came via masculine silhouettes given an overtly feminine spin. An oversized pinstripe blazer featured hyperextended lines, while a printed pantsuit came in a contemporary yet balanced silhouette. It read like traditional men’s business attire, but seized by women. Even feminine styles were pared back, in a nod to men’s dressing, yet evening wear showed an undeniable strength. Webbed detailing in fabrics and extended sleeves gave an almost witchy feel to more formal looks – fitting for a collection to empower women.
KITX followed, with a sartorial interpretation of everything the label stands for. Use of natural fibres, an understated palette, and no great diversion from KITX’s signature aesthetic, all showed that the designer is campaigning for longevity. As usual, lines were flattering and lengthening, balancing the wearable and interesting. Velvet grecian draping featured on the closing look, which somehow managed to skim the body without swallowing or consuming the model. It was proof of Kit Willow’s design finesse.
Christopher Esber was up next; another designer with a keen eye for dressing a woman’s body. He redefined basics, taking elements of wardrobe staples and transforming these into something entirely new. Slip dresses, blazers, tees and white shirts were all deconstructed, remade to form pieces much more visually interesting and infinitely more luxe. Just call him Picasso of fashion. However, he seemed to have missed the mark on a couple of pieces, falling too far either side of wearable or interesting.
The same could be said for Bianca Spender, however the audible gasps from the crowd would beg to differ. The sheer number of influences was evident in this collection. Spender wove in Victorian elements, with hyper-exaggerated shoulders and buckles sitting on the waist, reminiscent of corsetry. There was a nod to military silhouettes, made feminine by faux fur sleeves. Styles were minimalist and maximalist all at once, with understated styles delivered in luxe velvet and featuring ruching. While there was a lot going from a visual perspective, it was all brought together by just how well everything sat on the body. There's no denying Bianca Spender knows how to dress a woman.
The finale saw models parade to Madonna anthem, ‘Vogue’. Final looks featured so many historical references, it was difficult not to perceive the show as a retrospective of women’s fashion. It seemed to explore the power fashion as a vehicle of expression for women, starting with Victorian-era silhouettes and finishing with overtly masculine influences.
Or perhaps I’m overthinking it. The girl next to me was wearing a ‘The Future is Female’ T-shirt, after all.