Wednesday 24th February

| BY Paul Toner

Fashion East: Ready-to-wear AW21

Despite the hardships of the pandemic, Lulu Kennedy’s talent incubator, Fashion East, remains a pillar of London’s creative scene. Closing out digital London Fashion Week, the non-profit organisation – responsible for launching the careers of Kim Jones, Martine Rose and more – premiered a behind-the-scenes film, where each of the five talents on the roster created their own minature worlds inside the Old Truman Brewery.  

First for some farewells. Both South Korean designer Goom Heo and the Bella Hadid-approved Nensi Dojaka showed their third and final collections under Fashion East. Heo took a dark turn for her curtain call, looking to 1920s horror films to inform her draped, cocoon-shaped sportswear, which for the first time, included womenswear. This time around, Dojaka’s delicate lingerie constructions are joined by sensual jersey column dresses and barely-there, petal-shaped bralettes. In what’s expected to be a summer of immense hedonism, plenty will turn to Dojaka to give their wardrobe a sexual awakening.

Then there’s newbie HRH, a London-based accessories designer (and former gymnast), who specialises in ultra-desirable, padded bags and purses in all shapes and sizes. She’s joined by Jawara Alleyne, a Central Saint Martins grad who looks to Caribbean mythology to inform his explosive menswear. Shredded trousers, hand-draped jackets and campy silhouettes, inspired by pirates, slash outmoded masculine dress codes in half, then quarters, then into a million pieces that are left helpless on the floor. En garde!

Closing out proceedings is Maximilian, who despite only showing his debut collection last season, has become a star in his own right. His sophomore outing sees the Manchester-born designer look to 1960s couturiers – Cristóbal Balenciaga, Paco Rabanne, Courrèges – to inform his ongoing exploration of Black elegance. “That time was so incredible for fashion, and particularly in showcasing strong and powerful women,” said the designer, who channelled the futuristic vision of that period, now with Blackness at the forefront of the narrative. Whether its elegant column skirts (a nod to his Trinidadian grandmother’s Sunday best), skin-tight, lycra bodysuits or sharp, club-ready garb made from cracked Japanese leather  – it’s hard not to get giddy at Maximilian’s superstar potential. He’s set to soar.

Photography courtesy of Fashion East.

@fashion_east