Mike Grey and Lenore headed over to London Edge for us last weekend. Let’s see what they thought..This is a major event on the alternative fashion calendar, hosted at London’s Olympia. This yearly trade show is a closed to the public, but offers re-sellers and buyers from all over Europe a chance to see the latest lines from all of the major brands on the scene: Everything from the ubiquitous New Rock and Lip Service, to smaller, new and upcoming companies trying to make a name for themselves in a very competitive marketplace.
Mike’s View From The Edge
The first point to make is that it’s not all Alt-Couture-six-foot-models-in-huge-platforms-wearing-stunning-and-radical-designs. In fact there’s (sadly) very little of that to be seen. Instead, the bulk of the show is made up to the unchanging yearly staples: A large number of sellers stocking black T-shirts with ‘insert funny comment here’ slogans, day-glo body jewellery, swing dresses with skulls on, and studded bracelets. As much as a wardrobe baseline as these articles can be, there’s often very little in the way of development, and you can all go and have a look at them in your local shops. Rather than focusing on those, I’m going to froth a little about some of the more innovative labels…
In a field where most designers are seeking to make their lines brasher and more attention grabbing, Love Bomb have gone in a different direction and have created a stylish array of relatively subtle men’s T-shirts based on grey-on-black designs that are wearable day or night. Cuts are refreshingly generous (we’re not all skinny 18-year-olds who like skin-tight club-wear – take note, cyber stores), and casual, while the designs aren’t an array of desperate eyesores. There’s also a large range of holographic print designs. Some are a little tacky, while others are genuinely refreshing and new.
Prong Jewellery have some fantastic new designs coming out, based on posture collars, varying from practical and almost comfortable looking designs through to ostentatious pieces that will really transform an outfit. They’re absolutely stunning, and frankly: I’d be a sucker for a girl wearing one.
Bibian Blue have already had a name-check from SPHERE writer Lenore, but they’re worth mentioning again. For us, this Spanish designer was the real show-stopper, with a range of stunning corsetry of a quality rarely seen. We suspect that the huge variation in styles, coupled with the more upmarket price tags will keep these pieces out of all but the most ostentatious of boutiques, but if you desire an outfit or corset which will make an entire nightclub stop and stare at you, then you could do no wrong by getting online and ordering some of their work.
At this point, it’s worth commenting that London Edge in dire need of a catwalk show. Now this might have been due to us going on a Sunday, rather than the main trade days of Monday or Tuesday, and if that’s the case I retract the comment. However, every other major clothes show puts effort into showing you their ranges actually on the models instead of on hangers. Surely it’s not too much to ask?
Finally; a slight departure from other wares on display is the work of Graffiti Kings. This up-and-coming and very streetwise outfit seem thankful that the economic recession first took them to the dole queue before putting spray cans and markers back into their hands. The company now design and produce work for shops and exhibitions as well as ‘performing’ at live events. Business is apparently booming, and it’s genuinely pleasing to see a venture which is doing well, and it’s great to talk to an artist with such passion and enthusiasm for work.
London Edge is certainly a great place to go to find what’s new and exciting. The downside is that most of the lines are neither new, nor exciting. However, there’s bound to be something there that catches your eye. I’m now counting the days until those new event boots I saw are available…
Lenore’s View From The Edge
When I was a teenager (don’t ask how long ago it was), all I wanted was a studded bracelet, wallet chain or skull t-shirt with safety pins, but now I, and a whole generation of weirdos, have grown up, ‘alt’ fashion needs to mature along with us. Thankfully there are some designers determined to be an alternative to the ‘alternative’, producing well-made, genuinely unique and distinctive items for the more discerning punk or goth.
At the recent London Edge fashion show a few designers and labels stood out from the cliched black printed t-shirts to offer the alt community something different. Iron Fist have, over the last few years, produced some never-before seen shoes, taking classic stilettos, peep-toes and wedges to the extreme with zombie eyeballs, werewolf teeth and dead animals printed in garish colours from heel to toe. This year’s new designs did not compromise either, with the label’s, almost trade mark, metallic turquoise becoming a twisted tattoo-style hair print flowing over hidden platform heels, interspersed with matt scarlet roses – sure to be a hit next season. If sequins are your thing, the popular disco-punk black and pink skull shoes were released in a more goth-friendly black and silver and girly shoes once again got some balls.
Another stand-out label was the gothic shoe designer Demonia, who are traditionally known for their classic patent wedges with scooped heels and rubber bottomed platforms with stars and springs punched through. The recognised wedge got a make-over this year as bright orange and electric blue patent leopard print replaced the trad black – a sprinkle of glitter, a buckled strap and the design was fresh again – reinvention the mother of fashion.
London Edge newcomers also shone as couture designer Bibian Blue flew in from Barcelona to dazzle with her bespoke, hand-crafted corsets and skirts. A leather corseted dress became a work of art as large ruffles worked their way around the waist and shoulders and deer skulls become corsages and adorned matching fascinators. Bodices made from vintage-looking material were printed with golden cogs and wheels making steampunk style even more glamourous and many more one-off outfits were showcased in her collections book, aptly titled ‘Lacing Glamour’. Unfortunately creations of this intricacy and individuality come at a price with dresses starting at 270 Euros and up to 870 for the red dress on the book’s front cover. This meant that business was slow but her designs were not meant to be bought wholesale.
As ‘alternative’ becomes less and less so, we struggle to stay different from the different people, trying to find niches to make us stand out in a subculture that is becoming more popular-culture. Something like steampunk emerges and it’s so different that it rapidly gets swallowed up – before you can say ‘mass market’ anything with a cog and a bit of lace on it is ‘steampunk style’. It is refreshing then, that there are still individuals and companies out there trying to stay one step ahead and use their imagination instead of regurgitating tired old designs to an already bored audience. If I just had the money…
For more information visit the official website.
Read our article on last year’s event.
– Pictured (right): Aisling Grace of Limb Clothing