Style: Yifang Wan (& contempt) at London Fashion Week

Before we get stuck into the meat of this, a disclaimer: My opinions on fashion are not to be trusted.

I am not very cool. I have a completely un-ironic love for 80’s hair metal and festive jumpers and wear hole-ridden shoes that should have been taken out and shot many moons ago. I’m more likely to discuss amphibian husbandry than the latest Prada and wear jeans with elasticated waists if I intend to go a bit nuts on pulled pork and beer at Bodean’s. Chic, no? I’m here all night.

Alls I know is that ‘blue and green should never be seen’ and that horizontal stripes will make a big gut look bigger. But in an attempt to broaden my horizons, I ventured to London Fashion Week to report for OhDearism – armed with some useful tidbits of info from a friend both wise and stylish – in the hope that I could emerge with some nuggets of insight.

Like David Attenborough among creatures exotic and rare, I endeavoured to blend in and observe…

Yifang Wan

My first stop was Yifang Wan at the Freemason’s Hall, who my learned friend informed me is fresh outta St. Martin’s and has been impressing crowds with utilitarian pieces inspired by timeless Japanese fashion. She uses muted colour palletes that symbolize bold naturalism and practicality with clean lines, statement pieces of jewelry and jersey fabrics. Inspired by the gothic style of Gareth Pugh injected with martial-arts styling, Wan creates large yet streamlined and theatrical silhouettes that flow in fluid, unforced lines.

Still with me? I’m barely with me. Sounds pretty cool though right? But let us plug away.

After a wait in a rather hefty crowd, those of us with invites got ushered in and asked to go “anywhere but the front row”, for that was where the real big hitters were to sit, all huge, enviable talon nails, dip dye and the odd frozen botox botch-job. You think I jest? No. Of the faces that bobbed opposite me, a considerable number were frozen in masks of horror, wide-eyed fury or disgust. I couldn’t tell which but the conveyed feeling was not one of comfort. I’m quite sure that was not the intention. Or maybe it was?

But I digress…

No good goodies

Maddeningly the front row had the only seats with goody bags. Dang. Equally maddening was the fact that when confronted with these treats, the sour-faced chosen ones nonchalantly shoved them beneath their chairs as though repulsed. Is this normal behavior? When confronted with free stuff do you not gleefully delve inside? We never did discover what treasures lurked within and it is a question that will plague me for longer than it should.

What? At least give them a cursory look

Scrubs for ninjas

The clothes to me looked extremely martial arts-y; loosely structured jacket-and-trouser combos with some models carrying rather vicious looking pieces of wood like ancient weapons. Everything was very angular and completely monochrome, draping around the models. Some pieces were held together with large wooden belts, square and bold with leather buckles, accented against chunky jewelry.

While the all-black outfits were pretty interesting and glamorous, the all-white pieces to me looked like hospital scrubs and didn’t have anything like the same impact. Hospital scrubs for ninjas perhaps? As my friend informed me in his notes, the collection isn’t ready-to-wear. Though not overly flamboyant, the sheer size and angular nature of the pieces would make your average gal on the street look like they were impersonating a religious figure or about to karate-chop you in the face wearing a pair of goth curtains before being hauled off by stern men in similar white attire.

More cold than cool

While I can see the appeal of these designs, I was left a little cold by the heavy atmosphere of people trying to act so unexcited by an event while trying to soak up as much of it as possible by photographing every conceivable thing, as though visable enjoyment would get you ejected from the building. Call me naïve but surely after lining up for a good 40 minutes for something, most folk would be a teensy bit pleased when they got inside? Not so here.

With patrons flipping through their myriad fashion week invites like the worst kind of to-do lists, noses scrunched up in disgust, the whole thing felt like an exercise in forced aloofness. This didn’t sit well with me at all. The atmosphere was unfriendly and heavy, the proximity of being near such a pit of sneering indifference made the air thick with bad feeling and it was a true relief when it was time to leave.

At the lighting returning to normal, the chosen ones leapt up, discarded the free spoils and wafted away into the Holborn sunshine, leaving the rest of us to look about the place like bewildered creatures crossing a busy road. “Was that it?” “Yes. Off you go.”

My friend and I were ushered out before we could pilfer one of the many disgarded full goody bags and exited, not entirely sure how we felt about the whole thing. As we retired to the familiar confines of the Dog and Duck to digest our fashion week adventure, we mused over the audience more than the collection; the people who had made a supreme effort to stand out and be admired themselves, yet seemed to regard their peers and the work of Yifang Wan with screwfaced contempt. This stuck out for me considerably more than the clothes and left a taste in my mouth that hasn’t quite gone.

For those wondering, my learned friend is called Caner and goes by @BowTieBoy_CD on the Twitter. He is far far wiser in these matters than I.

Twitter – @NadiaReads

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