Rosalind Jana Oxfam Fashion Blogger
12th Mar 2013
The Somerset House courtyard is studded with doors and signs. Placards for the press area and exhibitions abound but it took a while before I could locate the one I needed - Estethica. This season it was nestled in the West Wing, so that the windows at the front looked out on a corner of cobbles, tables and plenty of heels.
©British Fashion Council - Entrance to Estethica 2013
Stretching out across several rooms, the space cradled within it designers ranging from the long established to the newly initiated. In writing about the collections there is a tendency to look for overarching themes or trends that could be draped across all involved. But it seemed this season that designers were not bound by similarity, but refreshingly disparate in aesthetics and inspiration. In the same room one could be transported from dreamy childhood memories of blue hydrangeas and bright ladybirds at the Beautiful Soul stall to the warmth of Goodone's understated tailoring and tops at the next. One was whimsical, the other durable - but both were desirable.
To hone in on details, Goodone specifically made great use of recycled Arran knit jumpers this season. Cream cabled panels found their way onto hoodies, hats and very sweet gloves. The sixties style mini-dresses with woolen collars were particularly gorgeous - eliciting some very appreciative adjectives when I first saw them.
©British Fashion Council - Fashion Editor Suzy Menkes OBE attended the Estethica launch
The use of recycled textiles and end of roll fabrics was one of several uses of material showcased at Estethica. Other methods involved employing British-based factories, using organic materials and producers or turning to a rather unusual set of fibers or dyes. Phannatiq presented jackets sculpted from beaten fig tree bark while the bright swirls of colour on Katrien Van Hecke's silk dresses came from a
variety of spices and herbs including juniper, chamomile and mint. Closer to home there was North Circular, whose cosy looking dip-dye beanie hats and chunky snoods were "knitted by nanas" in the UK. Each item comes with a tag detailing its origin, down to where the wool is from (usually from an alpaca or rare-breed Wensleydale sheep).
©British Fashion Council - L-R Patchacuti, Veja and Bottletop collections
From low key at one stall to high concept at another, an exploration of Estethica wasn't complete until Henrietta Ludgate's new collection had been located. Inspired by Googie architecture, the sculptural clothes came in a mix of light blue, white and navy - with silver lurex yarn (woven in the studio) suggesting sun glinting on glass. High collars, bands of tubing and flared skirts evoked a deliciously futuristic vision.
In terms of narrative though, it was Ada Zanditon who most boldly caught my attention with her imaginative recasting of Anna Karenina - envisaging an alternative ending to Tolstoy's novel in which Anna stole Vronsky's uniform, ran away and reached Bhutan, where she became goddess of the tigers. In Zanditon's words, she wanted to empower this "mother character stolen from motherhood." It's easy to visualize a newly emancipated Anna running around in the tweed coats (made using
vintage Chanel fabric), graphic digital print dresses and baroque jacquard skirt-suits. Materials came from all over the world, with sources ranging from the Organic Cotton company to Bangalore-based printers and mills in Yorkshire.
HEADER IMAGE: ©Brenda Annerl MAIN IMAGES:© British Fashion Council