Not to be confused with Fashion East, the collective presentation of emerging London talent founded by Lulu Kennedy and funded by Topshop, the Fashion Fringe show represents the final face-off in a design competition something like a real-life Project Runway. Launched in 2004, Fashion Fringe claims the imprimatur of both the mayor of London and Harold Tillman, chair of the British Fashion Council, and it can count one undisputed success story, Erdem, among its previous winners. This year, the jury included Roland Mouret and Claudia Schiffer, and the three finalists whose collections they were judging couldn’t have been more unalike.
First up was Fyodor Golan, a year-old label designed by Latvian Fyodor Podgorny and Israeli Golan Frydman. The duo met working together at Alexander McQueen, and it was easy to read McQueen’s influence into Podgorny and Frydman’s high-impact, gothic clothes.
Next was American Heidi Leung, who treated dressmaking as a form of collage. Working off a seventies-inspired palette of beige, bright green, and orange, and incorporating craft elements such as embroidery and quilting, Leung laid an instant claim to a distinctive aesthetic point of view. The silhouettes here were a little clunky, but Leung’s ideas deserve further development.
Last on the catwalk was Syria-born, Sheffield-raised Nabil El-Nayal. El-Nayal seemed like a heavy favorite going in—his dramatic, inventively constructed clothes were finessed in all the right ways, and he had the added feather in his cap of having his graduate collection from the Royal College of Art picked up by Harrods. Nevertheless, it wasn’t his night: In what Fashion Fringe creative director Colin McDowell called a close competition, Fyodor Golan carried the day.