When is a fashion show not a fashion show? When it’s a piece of performance art by Antoni Burakowski and Alison Roberts.
The duo behind Antoni and Alison launched into their show—the first of London Fashion Week and the designers’ first time on the catwalk since 2005—with a monologue. They work in an environment with ‘more of an art studio than a fashion studio slant,’ a solemn voice told the audience, and view the ‘constraints of the show schedule’ as a useful timetable for the creation of new work.
As for what form that new work might take, The Voice promised that feathers, felt-tipped pen scribbles, biscuits, brown paper bags, twigs, bin bags and buttons had been collaged together with tweeds, sequinned brocades and gems—all to produce a one-time performance called ‘Models walking up and down in dresses.’
In fact that was exactly what happened. But the garments on show were far more polished than suggested by the hodgepodge of media that went into their making. The designers presented a series of simply cut silk shifts printed with hyper-realistic photographs of all the materials under the sun.
So images of an overblown purple feather and heavy silk fringing met in a light-as-air silk t-shirt dress, and Sharpie-drawn tweeds on the top half of another dress mimicked the enlarged tweed pattern on the skirt. That brown paper bag made a graphic cravat, and images of a crumpled black bin bag created a lamé effect on several skirts. And very clever too, the way a tweed sash was made to ‘tie’ as a ‘bow’ at the back of one dress.
Crucually, none of the textures to which the dresses alluded were actually present in the clothes. The simple shapes (there were no more than five silhouettes in the show) grounded a conceit that could have been outlandish in elegance.
‘We have been looking to make these pieces since we were students,’ the designers said in their show notes. ‘It’s only technology that has allowed us to make them now.’