I am not necessarily talking about the up-and-coming designers that are of such excitement to the fashion industry (like the geometric prints at Holly Fulton and the 'designers of the future' seen at Graduate Fashion Week 2010) I am referring more to the labels and fashion houses that have a name, have a following yet have not quite reached the dizzying heights of the Louis Vuitton-like powerhouse.
The new season collections are a key example of this. Flicking through aprestigious magazine showing the trends to adopt for A/W 2011 the names which are jumping out from the pages in bold type are not those of Chanel or Gucci, they are brands like Erdem, Isabel Marant, Markus Lupfer, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Alexander Wang and Emma Cook among many others. And rightly so I think.
Naturally I adore Prada and Dolce as much as the next girl but I genuinely think that the people who make fashion new and exciting each season are these latter names- far from world domination but still some of the most covetable collections you could ever imagine!
Their clothes are all beautifully designed and sculpted. At Erdem the florals and patterns are somewhat majestic, so beautifully crafted that they are more like art than clothing. In a past Vogue issue, an editor was searching her dream wedding dress and Erdem adapted a scarletred dress from their then collection to a demure, delicate cream lacy dress that sent her (and no doubt her husband to-be's) heart racing. This is the stuff of dreams but these designers can almost make dreams a reality. They are generally accessible, not always in terms of price, but in the sense that they do not have the arrogant prestige that is associated with the fashion powerhouses. This all lends to the creativity of the designs, the freedom with which they work and the excitement that each new collection brings to their followers.
Followers of these designers tend to be those who know a lot about the fashion industry, the type who flick through glamorous magazines on a daily basis. The people who know that money is better spent on a
Markus Lupfer piece, which very few people will own, than on a Prada dress that will be seen on the back of every starlet from Cannes to Hollywood. These designers are never flashy, they are never emblazoned hazardously with labels and names, they are just beautifully cut and beautifully stylish and seldom will you hear a whisper of "is that Marant?".
This is where the beauty of these names truly lies. Yes, they are crafted out of materials second to none. Yes, they are cut to perfection. Yes, they are some of the most stylish attire money can buy. But most of all they have an ambiguity rarely seen in fashion. They are mysterious and wonderfully far from mainstream- so key in creating your own fashion identity. Why, when someone asks "Who are you wearing?" would you want to retort with a generic "Prada dah-ling!"? Surely it is far more exciting to be able to keep your air of mystery intact- attracting stares for your idiosyncratic style and not for that same-old LV scattered all over your handbag?