Sunday, 29 October 2017

History, Drama and Romance at Alistair James in London

Sitting in a bower of leaves, this diaphanous, pearl-encrusted gown worn with flowing red hair was the centrepiece of Alistair James' presentation in London. Cover picture and all photographs by Elli Ioannou for DAM.

One of the highlights of London Fashion Week was the official debut of British design duo Nicholas Alistair Walsh and David James Wise who first met at Alexander McQueen. Their evocative SS18 presentation was held in the exquisite Fitzrovia Chapel, designed in 1891 by celebrated Victorian architect John Loughborough Pearson. Story by Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Photographs by Elli Ioannou

 Pearl encrusted gown and a ruffled,
sequinned ensemble
LIKE a Pre-Raphaelite painting, a young woman with long, red hair and a flowing gown encrusted with pearls sits in a leafy bower in a gilded chancel. Architect John Loughborough Pearson's passion for medieval Italian architecture and St Mark's basilica in Venice inspired his design for the glimmering mosaics that give the chapel an otherworldly beauty.

This Gothic Revival jewel was the atmospheric backdrop to the romantic centrepiece of Alistair James' presentation during London Fashion Week, last month. Designers Nicholas Walsh and David Wise say they were inspired by a range of people and ideas yet those varied influences all coalesced into a cohesive and engaging collection with an unexpected edge.

The ideas for their most recent work were drawn from mythic, fairytale figures such as the May Queen and Sleeping Beauty to iconic British Sixties and Seventies fashion designer Ossie Clark and textile designer Celia Birtwell plus the work of portrait photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. Storytelling is at the heart of Alistair James' designs and Love Conquers All is the title of the new collection. Motifs include the briar rose and hearts, stars in sparkling Swarovksi crystals and a rich palette that included silver, blue and green. The diaphanous gowns were mixed with fluid smock-like dresses in white and porcelain blue, a suit with shorts in custom-made, dark green jacquard and silvery, sequined and ruffled outfit with a short, thigh-skimming skirts.

A key element in the design duo's philosophy is a ‘made in Britain’ ethos. This relates to Nicholas Walsh's family connection to fabric production in Yorkshire and David Wise's career as a textile designer and their belief in sustainability and using local skills and materials. The pair is determined to continue to work with British mills to create their new collections.

Fluid grace in a blue like
 Jasperware porcelain
Today, the designers work together from a South London studio. While Nicholas Walsh grew up in West Yorkshire and started his career as a women's wear designer, David Wise comes from London and began his career in textiles. Before forming their label, Wise had already worked with top fashion houses, including Alexander McQueen since 2010. Walsh grew up in Halifax, a wool trade town, and he was able to see his father at work at a theatre drapery mill. A youth spent surrounded by the mill's wools, velvets and silks meant he could easily relate to Wise's work as a textile designer.

Nicholas Walsh began his career in fashion after graduating with a BA in women's wear in 2014 and then working at Gareth Pugh and Alexander McQueen. While Walsh was working in the couture studio, Wise was a textile designer when they met at McQueen. When the two designers decided to branch out and create their own label together, they made a capsule collection which they showed to the British Fashion Council. They were put in touch with fashion industry contacts that helped them move forward with their label and lead to their ethereal SS18 collection shown this season in London.

Tap on photographs for full-screen slideshow
Voluminous, flowing lines added to the collection's sense of otherworldly romance.
The collection was inspired by the May Queen and Sleeping Beauty along with Ossie Clark and Celia Birtwell and British portrait photographer Julia Margaret Cameron.
Nicholas Walsh and David Wise say they were inspired by a range of people and ideas yet those varied influences all coalesced into a cohesive and engaging collection with an unexpected edge.
When the two designers decided to branch out and create their own label together, they made a capsule collection which they showed to the British Fashion Council.
The designers were put in touch with fashion industry contacts that helped them move forward with their label and lead to their official SS18 collection shown this season in London.
Today, the designers work together from a South London studio. Nicholas Walsh grew up in West Yorkshire and started his career as a women's wear designer while David Wise comes from London and began his career in textiles.



A key element in the design duo's philosophy is a ‘made in Britain’ ethos. This relates to Nicholas Walsh's family connection to fabric production in Yorkshire and David Wise's career as a textile designer and their belief in sustainability and using local skills and materials.
Nicholas Walsh began his career in fashion after graduating with a BA in women's wear in 2014 and then working at Gareth Pugh and Alexander McQueen. While Walsh was working in the couture studio, Wise was a textile designer when they met at McQueen.
 



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