Thursday, 3 March 2016

The news that fashion has anointed a new designer as a star can be signposted in various ways. For Amie Robertson, who debuted her label AV Robertson at London Fashion Week on Saturday morning, the evidence came in the form of front-row guest Marc Jacobs, who had flown in from New York, and a coterie of superstar models including Vogue’s March cover star, Edie Campbell, celebrity offspring Georgia Jagger, and Lineisy Montero, currently in the Chanel campaign.
For a fledgling label, still designed from a bedroom in Robertson’s parents’ house in Manchester, these signals were enough to make the assembled guests at the Tate Britain show sit up and take notice. The show notes crediting Katie Grand also ensured that they paid attention. Grand, who is editor-in-chief of Love magazine, has styled for Prada and works with Jacobs. Her endorsement of an unknown like Robertson is a Big Deal. It turns out that the Central Saint Martins fashion illustration BA graduate met Grand when she completed a year’s internship in 2014 at Marc Jacobs in New York.
Robertson showed as part of Fashion East, the young talent initiative that presents collections by three young designers each season. Jacobs’s influence could be seen in her eclectic collection. She mixed striped flannels, satin and beaded embellishment. Long, striped dresses and wide-legged trousers were worn with knee-high jewel-coloured boots and short-sleeved satin blouses. Few hems were straight, and some dresses featured ties that looked like jumpers were tied around models’ waists. Grand’s styling was present in the fun makeup and piled-up hair. It added a slickness that most young designers would kill for.
Jacobs, dressed in his signature Stan Smiths along with a sweatshirt, backpack and printed scarf, said he came to support Robertson “because she was bright and talented when she worked with us”. The designer is in London to attend the launch of his beauty brand at Harrods, but whether or not he would be attending shows at the rest of London Fashion Week was unclear. “I’m here, but I’m not here,” he said, with a wave of the hand and the air of someone who likes to keep his public guessing.

Backstage, Robertson – who wore the bookish outfit of pulled-back ponytail, glasses and jumper – was mobbed for squad goal selfies with Jacobs, Grand and friends. These posts are priceless for building buzz – collectively, the designer and stylist share 720,000 followers on Instagram. Robertson, by contrast, is on 1,600. After today that number is bound to increase. “Katie took me under her wing,” said Robertson, who still had the rabbit-in-the-headlights look of someone new to being the centre of attention. “I don’t know why, but it’s great, she’s been amazing.”

The designer’s inspirations are already showing signs of being up to fashion muster. “Aliens came to a magical land and flowers started growing out of the earth,” she said of the collection. The stripes were down to her “exploring men’s and womenswear” and also part of the “horror element”, namechecking Beetlejuice. The cult 1988 Tim Burton comedy-horror stars Michael Keaton and Winona Ryder, who wear stripes, wonky lengths and layers. It was also referenced by Jacobs last week, following his show in New York on Thursday night.
Being part of a trend that also includes a household-name designer is a long way from that Manchester bedroom, but Robertson may have to get used to this new environment.
Someone more accustomed to the spotlight is Caitlin Price, the London-based designer who had her third outing with Fashion East. Price is building a following who appreciate her mix of streetwear with couture references. For autumn/winter, she used her trademark pastel colours on tracksuits but also long, gathered satin skirts and short bomber jackets. There was an early 00s feel that recalled UK grime artist Lady Sovereign and rapper Lil’ Kim. Price said it was based on the “British ritual of girls getting dressed up to go out” and a “sophistication and glamour, but not quite being able to pull it off”. The cutout silhouettes were inspired by both a Madame Grès dress and a Lycra catsuit designed as clubwear. “It’s about a hybrid,” she said.

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