Maki Aminaka Löfvander and Marcus Wilmont are better known as their label Aminaka Wilmont that has managed to make some very important people sit up and pay attention since the duo – who met while working for eccentric designer Robert Cary-Williams- joined forces a couple of years ago. If there’s something of the smell of northern salt sea air about their work, then that’s hardly surprising: Maki is of Japanese and Swedish extraction and Marcus hails from Denmark. The restrained palette and distressed texture to the materials they often use imparts a sense of bracing elemental forces.
But in the current AW10 collection, the prompts are distinctly literary and artistic. The collection entitled ‘Strife’ leaps to life from Cormac McCarthy’s novel ‘The Road’, the Assemblage art movement and the early work of Robert Rauschenberg. With a certain blunt northern European sense of dwelling on the worst possibilities, the ‘Strife’ collection takes strife and war, manifest in images and visions of inner conflicts and social unrest, as its guiding spirit. Cheery? Hardly. But then again, Aminaka Wilmont are not the kind of brand trying to appeal to delusional girls who want to live in a bubble removed from the reality of contemporary life. Rather, they see themselves as appealing to confident and powerful contemporary women with a sense of purpose in the world.
Cynics might suggest that this is a little self-important for a fashion label. Their collection is hardly going to come in handy assisting the flood victims of Pakistan or offering civilian relief services in Haiti. On the other hand, we do now live in a world in which even women who work for Médecins Sans Frontières don’t feel obliged to look like secular nuns on their days off. Closer to home, it’s also easy to see why the stark and practical designs of Aminaka Wilmont are likely to appeal to many busy working women, even if their professional lives are lived out in slightly more prosaic surroundings than the dramatic setting of the collection’s inspirations.
A stark palette that manages to be Nordic despite its references to American pre-conceptual abstract art, and simple but effective draping makes this a collection in which most women can look good and still retain the mobility and versatility to get on with busy schedules, moving effortlessly from day to night. Here and there, highly textured decorative details or fierce asymmetry break up the largely consistent swell of a stormy sea.
The promise of refugee camp chic implied by the title might be mercifully absent to all intents and purposes, but then again it’s important to remember that the designers have sifted through the ether of art and literature to arrive at these themes. And, very much as with art and literature, their results reach us as an aesthetic and abstract notion of very real social issues.