Sat 19th September

Tune In To London Fashion Week SS21 – The Agency ELEVEN Way

Text   Dino Bonacic

Over the next few days, London Fashion Week is rolling out a digital-first showcase of SS21 collections – and we’re here to bring you the highlights courtesy of Agency ELEVEN’s fleet of creatives. 

As designers continue to work towards the idea of going “back to normal” and what that means for the industry at large, the fashion calendar continues to roll. And here’s another September which can only mean one thing – a busy schedule full of back-to-back fashion shows that are here to show us the garbs we’ll be wearing in about six months time. Well, kind of… Instead of the traditional format, all four of the big global fashion weeks are presenting a mixed-media schedule that includes everything from lookbook releases, film screenings, panel discussions and even a few real-life catwalks. 

From September 17th – 22nd, LFW is hosting the best of UK and international talent with – as always – a big focus on emerging talent. You can watch the packed programme unravel live online. But we’re here to bring you Agency ELEVEN’s own line-up of brands and designers and everything they’ve been worked hard on over the past six months. From Natasha Zinko x DUO Ltd and Xander Zhou to Liam Hodges, Per Götesson and more – it’s our take on LFW SS2, with content being updated daily

MARTINE ROSE

And then there was Martine… Always on the cusp of newness and change, she has yet again succeeded in turning a completely new page in her story – despite the global pandemic. For SS21, Martine Rose is looking to subvert the hyper-masculine notions cultivated by uniforms worn by sportsmen and bankers. Blended together in the most unexpected of ways, these two worlds collide in an erotic collection that reinforces the fact that nothing is just as it seems.

This season though, Martine’s ongoing conversation around silhouette and proportion is going to a micro direction. Suits and shirts are snug and pulling in all the right places, an extreme take on the noughties business look – down to the bumster-like trousers skimming the top of the buttock cleavage. Once again, a mish-mash of mens and womenswear codes erases the question of gender or sex – the boys wear delicate lace-y lingerie under their suits or layered over their trackies, while the girls step out in the large Peeping Tom trench coats. Football jerseys and polo shirts reference the kits of your favourite teams, with familiar emblems transformed into Martine Rose logos.

Keeping things exciting are the accessories – once again a mix of best hits and new favourites. The ‘SEX’ belt is back for another season, in new colourways matching the neon leather rave looks. An extension to the lingerie, the football-sock-stocking hybrids add a kinky twist to classic interpretations of hosiery, and the new mini gym bags are simply the right size to hide all your secrets. Show a little, say a lot – it’s the Martine Rose way.

Photographs by Heji Shin.

@martine_rose

XANDER ZHOU: Real Virtuality

You think your lockdown was hard? Due to the Covid-19-related travel restrictions, Xander Zhou was stranded in Europe for the past 10 months. During this time, the Chinese designer took plenty of time to self-reflect and re-think his own ideas: past and present. As a result of the solitude, Xander’s SS21 collection elevates his eponymous brand to the next level and opens the door to the future of design. 

The process of making the collection was the initial challenge. Having to work with his design team from thousands of miles away, a lot of the creation was about trust and imagining what the garments will look like. This level of experimentation resulted in success – earlier this month, Xander first saw the garments IRL and realised they looked just as he imagined them and therefore proved that “subjective consciousness determines objective existence.”

When it comes to the elements building the collection, Xander very much relied on his archive (as remembered in his head, of course) which were completely deconstructed and re-built from scratch. Recognisable stories like the acupuncture points from AW20 and dragon totem graphics first seen in SS16 were mixed in a whole rainbow of colours – from neutrals and nudes through to pastel blues, yellows and pinks. Erasing the limits of what’s “virtual” and what’s “real”, Xander just proved to the world that everything can be done. Where there’s a will, there’s definitely a way.

Photographs by Li Yuan.

@xanderzhou

PRONOUNCE: Oil / Water

When people say drinks can be inspirational, they usually think of alcoholic beverages. But for Pronounce’s Yushan Li and Jun Zhou, it was the experience of drinking traditional Tibetan butter tea that got their creatives juices flowing. The unorthodox meeting of water and fat in this mix was the starting point of their SS21 collection, presented at a socially distanced catwalk show in East London. Their trip to Lhasa in Tibet started the next chapter of their continuous conversation of Western and Eastern cultures as both dualities and complimentary narratives. Just like the oil romantically floats on top of the water, the layers of references are built into silhouettes that are very much a signature of Pronounce in all their complexities.

Using rich jacquard fabrics in vibrant jewel tones, the tailoring becomes even more voluminous as it moves and explores the contrast of positive and negative space. The accessories are some of the best we’ve seen this season –chunky 3D jewellery is hand-woven and knotted through a process that takes up to 500 hours, while the fluffy slippers and oversized hand-knitted bags feature environmentally-friendly materials like paper and faux fur. Celebrating “transitional states”, the collection plays the fine line between functional and decorative, restriction and freedom, real and artificial. And it’s embracing all these elements that makes the future so enticing. 

Photographs by Chris Yates.

@_pronounce

PER GÖTESSON: For Lillie

Sometimes, designers don’t have to look hard for their next inspiration, but instead allow themselves to be influenced by what’s around them. And while it might sound simple, this process is often the most complex due to the personal nature of the outcome. That’s where Per Götesson comes in. Always putting his whole heart and soul into the garments he creates, he didn’t disappoint this season. Taking inspiration and paying homage to his grandma Lillie, who passed away earlier this year, Per just showcased his most concise yet romantic outing to date.

Simply titled For Lillie, the SS21 collection takes womenswear tropes and gives them a whole new life through the context of a male body. Oversized shirts and wide-legged jeans usually labelled as “boyfriend’s” are patterned to replicate those feminine fits in menswear, while fragile fabrics like lace doilies become repurposed into seemingly traditional silhouettes. While the ideas and fabrics might seem conventional at first, there’s absolutely nothing regular about these pieces – even a simple white tee is slashed on the side to subtly expose the body. And of course there’s the jewellery, as always made with Per’s partner Husam El Odes who takes sparkly tchotchkes and transforms them into precious jewels. The pinnacle is a tiara, recreated out of a chandelier like the one found in Per’s grandma’s old home. As Lillie said herself: “we worked hard all our lives, and now we have all of these beautiful things.”

Photographs by Jessie Lily Adams.

@pergotesson

NATASHA ZINKO X DUO LTD X G-SHOCK: Pin It

What time is it, I hear you ask? Well, it’s time for some shopping. Natasha Zinko and her son and design partner Ivan have teamed up with the cult watch brand G-Shock on a special timepiece combining the DUO Ltd playful narrative with the classic silhouette. Launching right now and available via natashazinko.com and Farfetch, the black rubber watch features a colourful selection of interchangeable emoji pins that can reflect your mood depending on the day and allow you to customise your own story. Laughing, chilling, or just had enough? The “f*ck off” elephant is here for your consideration. Available in only 100 editions – it’s a case of shop now or regret later. Go quick, time waits for no one!

Shop the Natasha Zinko x DUO Ltd x G-Shock watch here

@natashazinkomagazine // @duoltd

LIAM HODGES: Ciao Bello (Goodbye Normal) 

It’s another time-travelling session courtesy of Mister Hodges. In line with his new business model focusing on the label’s own retail output and going direct to consumer, Liam is using this LFW as an opportunity to throw it back to January when he first presented his AW20 collection in Milan at a special Fashion East event with support of CNMI and Slam Jam. Held at the Artifact C / O Spazio Maiocchi, the party was not only the hottest dancing spot of the night but also the chance to showcase his new direction. 

Titled Brave Old World, New Ideas, the AW20 collection questions the cult of newness through the process of reworking pieces from the archive into crafty collages of tomorrow. In the designer’s own words: “now is the time to tear down false idols of fashion’s past.” For the video presented through LFW’s digital platform, Holly Rae Jones documented the trip to Italy would ended up being the last of its kind for a long time. And the best thing is – you don’t have to wait another six months to wear the fits you see in there. The collection is now available to shop online.

Film by Holly Rae Jones.

@liam__hodges

JORDANLUCA: Going Nowhere

First up, it’s our favourite Anglo-Italian duo. Reflecting the mood most of us have been in over the past six months and following up on their July teaser, JORDANLUCA are taking us… Nowhere. For their SS21 collection, Jordan Bowen and Luca Marchetto are relishing in a nihilistic existential crisis as they search for the meaning of life through the process of designing their next set of garments. Through this journey, they were inspired by Giacomo Leopardi’s famous poem L’Infinito which makes 1819 sound eerily similar to 2020. 

Using Covid-19 as a catalyst of constructive change, JORDANLUCA have used all the extra time they had on their hands to focus more on individual garments which results in plenty of handiwork and embroidery that enriches their ever so sexy take on menswear. In this domestic search for paradise, a rich selection of flora comes in all forms – literal flowers printed on shirts, or more subtly cut out in a punk-y take on broderie anglaise. If this is what being bored and stuck at home looks like – do we need to go anywhere anyway?

Lookbook photographs by Roxy Lee. Video directed by Joseph Wilson

@jordanluca_official