International Fashion Showcase LFW 2017

Local / Global forms the theme for the 2017 International Fashion Showcase, supported and presented by The British Fashion Council, The British Council and Mercedes-Benz.

toffee4108-ifs17-lfw17-main-bannerThis year is the first time Mercedes-Benz has supported the International Fashion Showcase as part of its 21 year partnering commitment to international fashion shows.  So, I thought it was about time I dropped by Somerset House to check out the selected overseas talent… and I wasn’t left disappointed.

With the recent political antiglobalisation movement,  it wasn’t surprising to discover that the theme for this year’s showcase was ‘Local / Global’.  Curated pieces by over 80 designers from across 26 countries were produced in response to a universal brief: to explore the influences that shape fashion, environmentally, historically and anthropologically, and reflect these through use of silhouettes, technique and materials.  The accompanying guide magazine states:

The work shown at IFS 2017 is both local and global revealing how emerging designers can transform their local culture into a global language. Global themes are viewed from a local standpoint and local stories in an international context.

Upon arriving at the entrance of the West Wing of Somerset House, you’ll discover a dedicated space curated by Shonagh Marshall for the Next in Line installation, setup by Mercedes-Benz to support emerging designers through its International Designer Exchange Programme.

Two pieces that stood out (respectively) for me were the matching cotton, printed collared shirt and shorts by Kidd Hunta (Zimbabwe) and cream, textured, knitted dress by Agustina Bello-Decurnex (Uruguay).  The level of detail executed with both of these entries is impressive and appealing. Definitely two names to watch for the future. 
toffee4108-ifs17-lfw17-next-in-lineFrom the main International Fashion Showcase, I’ve also selected some of my highlights to share with you because they are really well executed pieces that deserve to be appreciated by all.

In an overall outstanding submission, my personal favourite country submission is, without question, Guatemala with their collated Mayan heritage inspired curation, ‘Millennial Moon’.   It is described by exhibition copywriter, Jihane Dyer as:

An installation rooted in the scientific sophistication of the civilisation’s ancient lunar calendar and the mother-figure of Ixchel, goddess of the moon, fertility and weaving.  Reimagining Somerset House as Ixchel’s observatory-cum-atelier, Guatemala’s emerging fashion designers showcase their visions of the future.  This new generation of creative inventors is inspired by both the cosmos and ancient textile techniques, their impact strengthened by global communication and manufacturing technologies. 

All of the Guatemalan designers deserve praise because their pieces have true standout artistic and aesthetic beauty – and additionally, they’re wearable! My favourites came from Thelma Espina, who created two contrasting pieces, each representing life and death, respectively.

toffee4108-ifs17-lfw17-thelma-espinaThe ‘Life’ piece is a loose fitting, ethereal, caped trouser suit constructed from a silk chiffon with hand dyed in soft shades of grey on a cream silhouette.

The ‘Death’ piece is a fitted, restrictive, short dress constructed using solid, harsh, black shiny plastic triangles, with sharp spiky arm hole decor and a snake life plastic embellishment. Both pieces were juxtaposed with a small, matt black bag, resembling a wind turbine come cochlear shell, using a similar construction of plastic pieces as used on the ‘Death’ piece.

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Another notable designer from the Guatemala ‘Millennial Moon’ submission was Alexander Ayala, with his facial nose jewellery and his menswear street inspired collection that mirrored similar sentiments.

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There was a vast amount of talent at this year’s IFS2017, but one of my individual, standout favourites comes from Romanian designer, Emese Beko – an MA Fashion Design graduate from Cluj-Napoca who has interned at Giles Deacon before joining H&M in Stockholm.  Her entry is feminine and delicate, with the beautiful all-over black, rose embroidery on the nude organza, paired with the silver ballet pumps, tulle ribbon and knitted tights, trimmed with the same glass beads as the dress waistband.

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Other designers who individually caught my eye were Martin Hrca (Solvakia), Raphael Caric (Austria), sportwear brand Wisdom (Taiwan), Alina Zamanova (Ukraine) and a collaborative submission between accessories label Okhtein and Norine Farah (Egypt).

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Martin Hrca’s Slovakian entry emulated the theme well: a shape-shifting jigsaw of memories. Although I’m not a fan of the fur used in this entry, I do love the clever weaving of the felted, pink wool shawl, over the top of some exquisite pleating on the skirt.

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This dress and these bags were created as part of a collaboration entry between fellow Egyptian designers Norine Farah and brand Okhtein. They both used the same cotton fabrics and embroidery techniques to emphasise the Egypt entry theme “100% Egyptian Cotton”.

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(left to right) Alina Zamanova (Ukraine), Wisdom (Taiwan) and Raphael Caric (Austria).

Alina Zamanova from Ukraine created this provocative image on the back of a leather jacket was inspired by the theme ‘Wish You Were Here’, citing inspiration from Ukrainian graffiti and local sculptures.

A submission for the Taiwan theme ‘Incarnation’ came from streetwear brand Wisdom used natural materials developed from natural wastage to create their piece.  It had a United Nations utilitarian meets Star Wars feel about it, and I could see myself wearing the bolero gilet creation.

This entry from Raphael Caric formed part of the Austrian submission theme ‘Material Essence’. The woven denim, fine gauge knitwear body and the light, crop bomber jacket juxtaposed traditional Austrian textiles and techniques, with modern day.

The International Fashion Showcase runs until 21st February at the West Wing of Somerset House, so if you can, I’d recommend paying a visit.  The exhibition is free, however pre-registration is advised, so to avoid disappointment register with Billetto, here.

About the International Fashion Showcase:

Founded in 2012 as part of the Cultural Olympiad, and celebrating the its values of fraternity diversity and excellence, the International Fashion Showcase remains a competition.  A prize-giving ceremony scheduled during London Fashion Week February 2017, will announce a winning Country, Designer and Curator awarded by a panel of experts, headed by Sarah Mower MBE, BFC Ambassador for Emerging Talent and Chief Critic at Voguerunway.com.  For the first time. Mercedes-Benz will additionally present the winning designer with the unique opportunity to showcase their collection at one of the Mercedes-Benz fashion platforms. 

Author: toffee4108 ©

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