WORDS BY JOSEPH FURNESS
It's taken a while, but the London fashion scene is officially back on top thanks to the metropolis’ new class of designers. Trailblazers such as Maximilian Davis and Yuhan Wang are ripping up the rulebooks and running wild with their newfangled concepts, each taking inspiration from different aspects of the Big Smoke to produce their own distinctive collection.
There's a reason why the design duo behind 16Arlington work so well together: they are an IRL couple. Yes, Italian designers Marco Capaldo and Federica Cavenati are romantically and creatively connected, which, by and large, is the secret to their success.
The London-based brand pays homage to its hometown by marrying minimalism with maximalism to create couture-inspired ready-to-wear eveningwear. Essentially, it's streamlined glamour – an aesthetic that effectively represents the quirks of the inner-city London population, especially its powerful women who utilise fashion as their weapon.
Trust us when we say this: Maximilian Davis is the moment. Already spotted on the likes of Rihanna and A$AP Rocky, the London-based designer’s namesake label is slowly but surely making big-league moves and will no doubt be a household name come 2023.
Composed of asymmetric silhouettes, pleated materials and bold prints and colours, each of Maximilian’s collections pays homage to the designer’s Afro-Caribbean roots through the lens of London. As you can imagine, each look speaks for itself, which makes the brand perfect for the extroverted.
Rok Hwang is a man of detail. The South Korean-born, London-based designer has been providing the beau monde with high-grade forever pieces ever since 2017, and it’s safe to say that they (which includes us, of course) can’t get enough of his vision. Customarily, he takes the familiar – say, a gabardine trench coat; some slim denim jeans; a crossbody bag – and plays with the cut, proportions and materials to turn the conventional into the experimental.
It was during his time studying at London’s Central Saint Martins that Hwang discovered his knack for toying with expectations. Aptly, he salutes the city by decorating each of his collections with traditional British details and patterns.
When Beyoncé, Bella and Gigi Hadid, Kim K, Kylie Jenner and Nicki Minaj are all spotted wearing the same up-and-coming brand, you know it’s time to pay attention. The brand we speak of is KNWLS by Charlotte Knowles, a CSM graduate who takes pleasure in combining disparate sources of inspiration, especially those that trigger her nostalgia.
With the support of co-creative director Alexandre Arsenault, Knowles has persuaded the aforementioned members of the glitterati (and their disciples) to make bold sartorial choices – to clash fearsome prints, understand lingerie as a top layer and espouse a ‘70s-meets-’00s mode. Only a South London girl could be this daring.
Another alumnus of CSM is Yuhan Wang: a designer who seeks inspiration from femininity and her two homes – China and England – to create womenswear looks that are simultaneously delicate, eccentric and ethereal.
Wang bridges the gap between Asian and Western culture by seeking inspiration from nature. Thus, pieces labelled with her moniker are often teeming with fruits, plants and flowers. How romantic.
Is there anything Mowalola Ogunlesi can’t do? Not only has the British-Nigerian designer catalysed the return of the Y2K accessories trend via her sought-after accessories (from trucker caps to furry hats to hobo bags), but she’s also making waves with her elegantly crafted line of apparel regularly adorned with bold graphics, prints and colours.
The CSM graduate’s Londob-based label represents the city's underground community – namely, the sex-centric, gender-fluid, glam-rock subcultures. Essentially, it’s a sartorial depiction of Soho, and, naturally, we and the rest of the industry are totally here for it.
Designers usually thrive on their own, but that certainly isn’t the case for British designer Laura Lowena and her business partner, American-born, British-based Bulgarian designer Emma Chopova. The two CSM graduates combine their creative talents to produce trailblazing collections under the moniker Chopova Lowena: a brand gaining a reputation for embracing the weird and wonderful sides of British and Bulgarian culture.
Each fanciful look – think Game of Thrones meets Brave meets Cruella – tells a story of craft and history. Most, if not all, of the pieces from a Chopova Lowena season have been handmade using deadstock and recycled materials that are usually sourced in Bulgaria. No wonder it’s all so beautiful.
London has been a hub of gender-fluid styles for decades, which is precisely why Eudon Choi feels most comfortable based in the British city. The South Korean designer has made a name for himself by fusing the feminine with the masculine to create refined, contemporary womenswear collections at his namesake label – collections you’d be silly to ignore.
What can one expect when exploring the Eudon Choi brand? Sophisticated takes on boyfriend ‘fits that fashion-forward females have been ceaselessly yearning for. Think formal asymmetric shirts, preppy tie-front jumpers and split-hem suit trousers. The kind of pieces that leave little room to go wrong.