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Friday, 25 February 2011

Estethica at london Fashion Week

Saturday morning dawns grey, and it’s raining, but as I scurry towards Somerset House, trying to avoid the dreaded drizzle-hair, people begin to look more beautifully dressed with every step and there’s a palpable excitement in the air.
It’s London Fashion Week and for me, previously to be found scampering around backstage clutching pins, it’s my first time front of house.
I’m given my pass by Offset Warehouse’s Charlie Ross and whisked up to the Estethica section. It’s clearly a busy time and it was great to catch a few minutes with her before she hurried off to another interview.
This marks Estethica’s fifth year at LFW and it’s going strong (I ‘m sure it’s not only the lure of champagne that’s drawing the crowds!). The room is heaving and there are some great pieces; Pachacuti’s new collection, effortlessly stylish as ever, and the unusual technique of Antonello’s bags are great examples of craft skills translated into high end fashion. And it’s hard to believe that Kumvana Gomani’s striking necklaces used to be industrial catering packaging!
But the favourite has to be the collection by Study NY, from New York designer Tara St James.  Rich knits, naturally coloured silks and luxurious reclaimed woollens create a sophisticated and very wearable collection, showcasing the versatility of both the designer and ethical fashion. St James tells me of her desire to not only use sustainable fabrics in her garments but to generate socio-economic benefits through their production. What cannot be made in New York is sourced from cooperatives around the globe ensuring a fair wage for skilled labour, such as her Alpaca hand knits produced in Peru: she is surely one to watch.
Through the crowds I manage a quick chat with From Somewhere designer and Estethica curator Orsola de Castro to ask about the new collaboration with Speedo. Working on upcycling surplus LZR technical racing fabric Orsola’s creativity shines through and the results are stunning, sporting a floor length number herself she tells me how much she has enjoyed the project and that the fabric has been a dream to work with.
And if you want to bag a designer creation for yourself be sure to log on to on February 28th when the Fairtrade Foundation will be launching their limited edition scarf collection. A collaboration with Estethica designers to encourage labels to be more creative with their use of organic cotton, the scarves are sure to disappear fast so get that mouse ready.
I admit to being a little apprehensive of an ‘ethical fashion section’ fearing exhibitors would be overlooked by buyers who do not have a product’s ethical credentials top of their tick list. But the quality from the designers ensures the Estethica area flows with ease between the rambling corridors of Somerset House, and with the party in full swing I reluctantly retreat. 
On my way out I overhear the doorman tell a slightly annoyed Fashionisto, ‘It’s so crowded it’s not even one in one out I’m afraid’. Surely a sign for the future of Estethica and the pioneering ethical fashion lines it represents...

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