The International Fashion Showcase (IFS), set up by the British Council and the British Fashion Council, invites embassies of the world to bring emerging talents from their countries to exhibit in London over the course of London Fashion Week.
Now in its second year the showcase, which launched as a fashion parallel to the London 2012 Olympic Games, provides opportunities for young designers to make new relationships on an international platform.
I spent the weekend attending the events of four countries in their first year of the IFS…
FRESHEST PRESENTS: THE ESTONIAN MINISTRY OF CREATIVE AFFAIRS
WITH THE EMBASSY OF ESTONIA AND THE ESTONIAN DESIGN CENTRE
SATURDAY 16 FEB 2013 – PHANTASIA IN ASSOCIATION WITH LOVE IS THE LAW MAGAZINE
I wait for the doors to open in a quiet Central London alleyway at the entrance to The Horse Hospital for an event described as a “mythical, immersive journey exploring innovative ways of presenting Estonian fashion through multidisciplinary means.”
I’m greeted by Marques Toliver, editor-in-chief of Love Is The Law Magazine, who describes the night as “a number of forces coming together to promote creativity across all mediums,” including designers, musical performers, Love Is The Law Magazine, The Horse Hospital, FreshEst Designs, the Embassy of Estonia and the Estonian Design Centre.
I’m taken downstairs to an intimate gallery space where unique collections representing menswear, classical womenswear, accessories and eyewear are accompanied by projections, a live Sitar player and the bustle of fashion professionals and enthusiasts.
For most of the designers it’s their first time exhibiting in London; Kadri Kruss says: “London is my favourite city, so I was really happy to be chosen,” and Kristina Viirpalu tells me she has “loads planned in London for the future.” Despite being a London resident for over ten years, Kristian Steinberg says his designs “still reflect Estonian fashion,” and Karl Annus says the response in London so far has been “amazing”.
Throughout the evening our attention is turned to different art forms through five live music performances and a screening of After Beyond, a film by producer and creative director Helen Sirp. Helen also directed the Estonian International Fashion Showcase 2013 as part of her final MA project in Narrative Environments, at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design.
As I leave the room is packed, and the party continues into the night with music and mingling. Before heading home I grab my free Elemis goodie-bag and thank the organisers for a brilliant night.
On Sunday 17th February Estonia were crowned winners of the International Fashion Showcase Award 2013!
CH TALENTS PRESENTS: DEPICTING FASHION THE EMBASSY OF SWITZERLAND IN THE UK AND DASH MAGAZINE
SATURDAY 16 FEB – PANEL DISCUSSION WITH FASHION INDUSTRY EXPERTS
Sketches, photography, film and garments make up the presentation of six emerging Swiss designers at Gallery@OXO, in which the side-products of fashion design take centre stage.
A black and white film accompanies PortenierRoth’s combination of fashion and contemporary art, original sketches give an insight into the experimental process of Julia Winkler’s award-winning collection, and Julian Zigerli’s daring menswear is displayed in the window alongside a screening of ‘Happy Tears’. Garments from YVY’s provocative ‘SKIN’ collection are accompanied by beautifully feminine photography while Stephanie Biggel’s fusion of photo and sketch depicts her portrayal of confident women.
“The attitude towards fashion is not as obvious in Switzerland as it is in London or Paris,” says Slvia on breaking into the commercial market. “I admire young designers who keep fighting with a creative and commercial approach.”
Zurich-born designer Lauend Phuengkit describes his use of film as a tool to narrate what he wants his designs to say and how they should “translate a statement”, while Julia says the future of Swiss fashion will be “more contemporary, funny and daring”.
“Showcases in this format are an opportunity to show the character of a country.” – David Beck Kilian Project manager of Swiss Embassy Cultural Affairs
LAHORE TO LONDON THE HIGH COMMISION FOR PAKISTAN & PAKISTAN INSTITUTE OF FASHION AND DESIGN
I’m greeted at the High Commission for Pakistan by curator Imran Mahmood, associate Professor of the Pakistan Institute of Fashion and Design (PIFD). The exhibition is a calm and peaceful space in which designs are modestly presented in their final form on rails and mannequins.
The four designers – Zonia Anwaar, Irfan Ali, Akif Mahmood and Moshin Ali – are graduates of the PIFD in Lahore, and the main focus of the exhibition is to: “present rich Eastern heritage with elements from local artistry to plain weaves and printed ethnic fabrics developed throughout Pakistan.”
Moshin Ali, a 2010 graduate, showcases a colourful and contemporary collection of dresses highlighting the use of silk and cotton. He is packing up his garments for a meeting with a London boutique, but kindly stops for a quick chat about his experience of coming to London for the first time:
“It isn’t too difficult coming to the UK from Pakistan, but you really have to know people. At the moment we are just trying to get a grasp on the science of the industry here.”
Pakistan Fashion Week is a much smaller affair than LFW, and the opportunity for emerging designers to exhibit in London can open up a whole new global clientèle. Moshin commented: “London is great for attracting new business, it’s so multicultural and it’s the central point for the whole country”.
Imran Mahmood looks forward to coming back in 2014. “We will bring more designers from PIFD’s other departments,” he promised, “and it will be a collaborative presentation with new themes.”
L’IMPOSSIBLE EMBASSY OF SERBIA AND BELGRADE FASHION WEEK
L’IMPOSSIBLE OPENING PARTY
In the bright Serbian House gallery space off Oxford Street, Belgrade Fashion Week showcases three visionary Serbian designers: Ana Ljubinković, Ivana Pilja and George Styler. Original designs inspire the unique aesthetic framework created by illustrator Vesna Pesnic, who uses Serbian Surrealism of the 1920’s to create a collage of diversity in an imaginary world of the past and future.
The opening party is packed full of people admiring the unconventional and imaginative garments displayed in transcendent scenes that capture the essence of L’Impossible. “We never thought it would be this busy!” exclaims curator Ksenjia Marković.
In the face of challenging social circumstances Serbian fashion has become a rebellious force, and the designers here all embody “the Serbian spirit.” As Ksenija explains: “To be engaged in fashion you have to be committed to it. For these designers, being immersed in their creativity is more important than selling.”
Each collection tells a different story: Ana Ljubinković expresses her inner world and the world around her; George Styler reflects the need for freedom of the modern man; and Ivana Pilja explores the symbolic image of nature and its power over the realities which shape human life.
The exhibition is accompanied by a special edition of FAAR Magazine, Eastern Europe’s largest fashion magazine, published by Belgrade Fashion Week.
The International Fashion Showcase really does provide an “around-the-world trip” through fashion. Twenty-seven embassies are taking part this year, and the show’s outstanding success can only mean that 2014 will bring more countries and more innovative design in from around the world.
Here are some of my photos from Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th Feb at the International Fashion Showcase 2013…
The showcase runs until 28th Feb 2013.
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