Saturday 20th February

| BY Paul Toner

Art School: Ready-to-wear AW21

Over the course of the past twelve months, Eden Loweth’s Art School has undergone a second coming. With Loweth’s ex-partner and Art School’s co-founder, Tom Barratt, exiting the brand, the now sole creative director has focused on moving the London-based label forward with one clear set of ideas behind it.

“It was a really considered decision on what I want to achieve here, what my position is within this community, as a voice,” says Loweth. Making his solo debut last season, Loweth’s collections are now more clarified, with SS21 marking a major step-up for the brand – not just in terms of scale, but the quality of the clothes, too.

The designer’s sophomore solo outing, titled Ascension, sees Art School reach tremendous new heights. It’s Loweth’s biggest collection yet – 41 looks in total – all thanks to the support of Matches Fashion’s Innovators Programme, which has allowed Loweth to hire a team that includes mentor Cozette McCreery, and Lucia Blayke and Emily Crooked of London Trans Pride, who have ushered in a new dawn for the brand’s inclusive casting.

“I relied heavily upon a small group of models that have been with me from the beginning, particularly to make last season happen,” Loweth explains. “When they brought all of these new people in, and so many of them I’ve never met, it was very emotional, having all these people there because they believed in what we’re doing.”

In the collection, you’ll see reoccurring shapes and silhouettes from last season, with Loweth particularly interested in the idea of repetition between shows – a departure from the brand’s chaotic, club kid early days. “From the beginning, people saw the crazy side of what we do, but they don’t always hone in on the technical skill set that we also imply within the clothes, or the fact that we actually sell quite successfully,” Loweth says.

The collection emerges from darkness into light, moving from distressed, all-black, asymmetric silk dresses and rugged leather jackets, to glittery frocks in crimson. The proceedings climax with a procession of slashed, ivory tailored jackets and the brand’s signature, operatic draped ball gown – now encased in a sparkly knitted fabric. To Loweth’s amazement, one of his idols, Katie Grand, agreed to style the collection after McCreery reached out to her on a whim. “She texted back within two seconds saying yes and I had a massive breakdown,” Loweth admits. “Having people like that stepping forward to say, ‘We’re gonna give you our time, because we believe in you’, no one really says that when you’re like fighting to try and save your business, and your relationship, for the last three years.”

As models make their way through pools of thick smoke, there’s a sense of triumph in the air. This is Art School in its most fully-fledged form, watch Loweth soar.

Photography by Chris Yates.

artschool-london.com