Being green and sustainable without trying is truly the new cool, especially in fashion. Among the new blood in evidence at London Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2015, the catwalk debut of Fashion East’s Ed Marler at the ready-to-wear Topshop Showspace turned plenty of heads, with opulent, cultish, designs Dazed described as “club kids turned vampires, clad in the garments they’ve been collecting for centuries”.
The dysfunctional family of decadents in his showcase was richly arrayed in gorgeous garb that deliberately played with notions of gender, muddling 16th-century images of masculinity with piratical glamour and 21st-century rock’n’roll gender-bending. New Central Saint Martin’s womenswear graduate Marler also strutted out himself, modelling a princess dress and huge ‘MUM’ earrings.
This beguiling show-off is the latest triumph for the Old Truman Brewery’s not-for-profit new-talent stable Fashion East, which since 2000 has supported and helped to launch an impressive list of young designers including Gareth Pugh and Meadham Kirchhoff. Marler interned with arch-experimenter Louise Gray, and believes the distinction between daywear and eveningwear needs to go. Putting openness and imagination at the forefront of his approach, he’s advocated wearing two football shirts as a top and skirt, and accessorising with Westwood devil horns.
This open, enquiring ethos leads him to produce primarily one-offs and limited editions, repurposing second hand and deadstock garments and incorporating furnishing fabrics and vintage net curtains. Upcycling, in effect. Yet Marler sees this as simply part of his creative, all-inclusive approach, showing little interest in stressing these green credentials. He told the Guardian’s sustainable fashion hub: “Going to the usual fabric stores you get the same stuff: this is more original.”
The only male models in the Fashion East womenswear showcase sported his lacy pink slips and jewel-encrusted crowns while women, including one transgender model, rocked brocade tapestry jackets over sequinned snakeskin trousers. Also noted alongside his boundary-breaking approach to clothing was a new approach to casting, also evident in the collection of Meadham Kirchhoff. Both took to the streets of London to seek out models with exactly the right look and attitude to tell their stories. The result is an altogether more plausible array of different face and body types, perfect to underscore themes of individuality and personal creativity.