NewGen sponsorship, the amazing, often life-changing initiative that helps to develop designers into commercial successes, was announced this week, which means it must be near the time when we’re all back on that catwalk merry-go-round they call Fashion Week. No surprises to some of the list, like Louise Gray and Mary Katrantzou, but there are a few relatively new designers we’re going to keep our peeps on come February.
Michael Van Der Ham
Perhaps the “M” in Michael stands for mis-matched. Michael Van Der Ham designs are like a collage; an artistic clash of colour, pattern and texture. Or is it that “M” stands for mathematician, considering the chaotic and random nature in mixing different eras and fabrics. Eccentric, to say to the least. Van Der Ham’s spring/summer collection, his fourth ready-to-wear season, was a whimsy of prettiness where knits were paired with draped, vintage chiffons. It’s an expressive, demi-couture-like look (the clothes have a price tag to match) that he’s been spruiking since day dot. These days though the designer has learnt to refine the recycling process so that his fusion of fashion equals sophistication.
In contrast to Van Der Ham’s softness, JS Lee’s (the “J” stands for Jackie) look is one of complete androgyny. Her sharp lines are sleek and subtle; London’s take on minimalism. Another St. Martin’s alumni, fresh from presenting her graduate collection earlier this year, Lee has been tagged frequently as “one to watch”. Her clothes are meticulous, from concise layering to intentionally uneven hemlines. It’s as if Lee’s governed by three P’s of design: proportion, panelling, purity. Her clothes are available exclusively at Harrod’s, but given the NewGen financial support there’s every bit the chance it will translate into support from buyers. Especially if those hype words are to be believed.
Nice to see an Australian make an appearance on the list, even if it is Jordan Askill’s second NewGen coming. Considering his three-year tutelage with Dior, along with a design stint at Ksubi and costumes for Sydney Dance Company, there were always going to be expectations of something big. Especially considering creativity seems to be in the family genes. Askill’s installation and exhibition for Autumn/Winter will focus on his high concept, three-dimensional jewellery design which is often reminiscent of antique sculptures. Each piece is painstakingly detailed in design; a beautiful, visual, visceral relationship to space.