Established by Lulu Kennedy in collaboration with the Old Truman Brewery in 2000, Fashion East has maintained its esteemed position as a pioneering talent initiative. With Kennedy very much still at the helm, the scheme champions emerging designers, showcasing their work at London Fashion Week each season. Designers are selected by a panel of eminent industry figures, who offer guidance and mentoring support. Fashion East has an unrivalled reputation for identifying and supporting the most exciting new names in the industry and has kick started the careers of many of the UK’s most prolific design talents, including Jonathan Saunders, Craig Green, Grace Wales Bonner, Roksanda Ilincic and Simone Rocha.
This season, along with Matty Bovan, Asai and Supriya Lele, newcomers Charlotte Knowles and Harry Evans join the roster. “Talent comes in waves and we’re in the middle of an extremely good one,” Kennedy told British Vogue. “That’s why we couldn’t stop at just the three awesome runway talents, but decided to push it to five and put on a standalone presentation event, too.”
Central Saint Martins graduate Charlotte Knowles’ MA offering featured elements of corsetry, bringing together silicone details and elegant shirting in a discerning palette. Paying close attention to the way in which her garments conform to the body, her work intuitively celebrates the female form. Since graduating from the Masters programme, Knowles has worked with Shayne Oliver at Helmut Lang in New York, whilst also developing her eponymous label in London.
The second newcomer this season, Harry Evans, is a Knitwear graduate, also from Central Saint Martins. Evans’ work decidedly rejects menswear tropes of the past, comprising an eclectic mix of jersey, layered with intricate knitwear. His MA collection united fantasy with reality, including ribbed and fleece leggings worn under skirts and tunics, lurex and tinsel knits combined with simple black items, and flowing silhouettes grounded with jersey fabrics.
Back for his third season with Fashion East, Matty Bovan’s output has become synonymous with joyous colour and outlandish styling. Launched last year, after graduating from Central Saint Martins, where he showed an amalgam of handmade textiles, juxtaposing cashmere and plastic lacing together with clay adornments and sculptural silhouettes, Bovan set-up his namesake label.
British-Asian designer, A Sai Ta’s BA collection at CSM took second place in the L’Oreal Professionnel Talent Award back in 2014. With a scholarship from Theory in hand, Ta entered the school’s MA programme to continue exploring his aesthetic. Presenting an assortment of textured white pieces alongside a number of multi-coloured ensembles, his debut line-up with Fashion East saw shirt silhouettes redesigned, knitwear chopped up and reaffixed together with delicate translucent fabrics.
Also returning for her second season with the initiative, Royal College of Art graduate Supriya Lele’s last collection explored the duality between her Indian and British cultural identity. Her work explores the female body, reworking traditional Indian textile techniques and embellishment through a contemporary lens, concentrating on the interplay between high and low fabrications.
Feature image: Matty Bovan AW17 (via Hostogram)