For those women who are a little tired of the safe sophistication or just who didn’t really find simplicity that interesting in the first place, Louise Gray’s SS11 collection offers a bold alternative.
The Scottish designer has been gaining a lot of attention – including a recent Topshop sponsored Newgen Award to facilitate her next catwalk presentation at London Fashion Week- for her particular take on women’s’ fashion. It clearly reflects Louise’s background in textile design and, more particularly, links strongly with the tradition of designers that rose from the British ‘street fashion’ scene whose work was marked by a clashing use of directional textiles. It’s really no surprise to see that Louise’s list of collaborations to date include old stalwarts of British street fashion such as famed stylist Judy Blame.
Louise has cited Keith Haring and Patricia Fielding as inspirations and that really could be an apt summary of her current collection. It’s bold prints in solid blocks of colour are most certainly reminiscent of the work of the former, while its devil-may-care femininity is very much in keeping with the latter’s style.
The clashing cacophony of textiles and details that makes up the SS11 collection is an immediate antidote to summer boredom with overly simple clothing. Crazy silhouettes that use high-contrast juxtapositions and a seemingly nonchalant approach to construction break up clean lines in almost all garments. Together with ties, bows, ribbons and fluttering layers and details that all bring a certain attention-seeking exhibitionism to the looks – remember Strawberry Switchblade, anyone?- these are largely clothes for those who do not mind drawing attention to themselves. However, for all the camp showiness, don’t be fooled: many of the dresses show an attention to form and cut that might be overlooked in the froth of the catwalk presentation. Here and there, there are dresses grounded in tried and proven feminine historical silhouettes reinvented through an incongruous use of colour, pattern and deconstruction.
For those women who find the Raggedy Ann excesses of some of the showpieces a bridge too far but still want to make a strong statement, they would do well to look towards some of the beautifully feminine dresses in billowing fabrics. Generally of a Baby Doll shortness or certainly no longer than on the knee, they vary from the more baggy looks that mix smock-like dresses with sportswear informality to what can only be described as Empire line femininity with a twist. The perfect option for the woman that plans to spend the summer in a playful Jane Austen fantasy.
For those who prefer something a little less revealing, there are also a number of striking longer dresses and combinations that use drapery in a manner evocative of the traditional Indian sari or a 1930’s panache that show that one can still remain playful without embracing infantilism.