WORDS BY JOSEPH FURNESS
It's been a while, but the London fashion scene is officially back on top thanks to the metropolis’ new class of designers. Trailblazers such as Maximilian, Eudon Choi and Mowalola have been busy ripping up the rulebooks and running wild with their newfangled concepts – each interpreting the notion of being a London fashion designer in their own distinctive way.
Join us as we run through eight of the most requested London fashion designers and take a look at how they encapsulate the city within their collections.
Trust us when we say this: Maximilian Davis is about to be 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 2022.
Composed of asymmetric silhouettes, pleated materials and bold prints and colours, each of Maximilian’s collections pays homage to his Afro-Caribbean roots through the lens of London. As you can imagine, the looks speak for themselves.
When Beyoncé, Bella and Gigi Hadid, Kim K, Kylie Jenner and Nicki Minaj are spotted wearing the same up-and-coming, London-based brand, you know it’s time to pay attention, which is exactly the case with KNWLS. Behind the brand is Charlotte Knowles: a CSM graduate who takes pleasure in combining different sources of inspiration – most especially those she feels nostalgic about.
With help from her co-creative director Alexandre Arsenault, Knowles has persuaded the aforementioned members of the glitterati – and their disciples – to clash bold patterns, wear underwear as a top layer, rock a pair of pretty witchy pointed-toe boots and espouse a 70s-meets-00s mode. Only a south London girl could be this daring.
Rok Hwang is a man of detail – the South Korean-born, London-based designer has been providing the style-savvy women of the world with high-grade forever pieces since 2017. Customarily, he takes the familiar – a gabardine trench coat, slim denim jeans or crossbody bag – and plays with the proportions, materials and cut of the conventional form.
It was during his time studying at London’s Central Saint Martins that Hwang discovered his knack for experimenting with the expected; aptly, he salutes the city by adorning collections with traditional British details and patterns.
Another alumnus of CSM is Yuhan Wang: a Chinese-born, London-based designer who seeks inspiration from femininity to create her ethereal designs. Each romantic piece amalgamates notions from Wang’s contrasting geographical identities, resulting in delicate yet eccentric womenswear collections.
Wang's interest in bridging the gap between Asian and Western culture frequently leads her to work from a mood board inspired by nature. The Alice in Wonderland-esque aesthetic is key to her brand identity as her namesake brand is teeming with fruits and plants and flowers.
Is there anything Mowalola Ogunlesi can’t do? Not only has the British-Nigerian designer catalysed the return of 00s accessories with her sought-after trucker caps, bags and sunglasses and been appointed the design director of Yeezy Gap, she’s also making waves with her ready-to-wear line of elegantly crafted silhouettes adorned with bold graphics, prints and colours.
Based in London, the CSM graduate’s eponymous label represents the underground community of the city – namely, the sex-centric, gender-fluid, glam-rock subcultures. Essentially, it’s a sartorial depiction of Soho.
More often than not, designers thrive on their own – that certainly isn’t the case for American-born, British-based Bulgarian designer Emma Chopova and British designer Laura Lowena. The two CSM graduates combine their creative talents to produce trailblazing collections under the moniker Chopova Lowena: a brand famed for embracing the weird and wonderful side of both British and Bulgarian culture.
Each fanciful look – think Game of Thrones meets Pixar’s Brave meets Cruella – tells a story of craft and history; most, if not all pieces from each Chopova Lowena season have been handmade using deadstock and recycled materials, many of which are 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 merging the feminine with the masculine to create refined, contemporary womenswear collections at his namesake label – collections you’ll want to take a look at.
What can one discover in Eudon Choi’s collection? Well, there’s formal asymmetric shirts, preppy tie-front jumpers and split-hem suit trousers, just to name a few. Essentially, it’s the sophisticated take on boyfriend fits that fashion-forward women have been ceaselessly yearning for.
There's a reason why the design duo behind 16Arlington work so well together, and that’s because 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 (think notions of glamour with streamlined silhouettes) to create a couture-inspired ready-to-wear line of eveningwear. It’s an aesthetic that effectively represents the quirks of the inner-city London population – most especially The Big Smoke’s powerful women who utilise fashion as their weapon.