I-am-chen AW19 | Unclassifiable
LONDON FASHION WEEK | SHOW REVIEWS
i-am-chen Delivers a Colour-Lover’s Delight - It’s Knitwear, But Not As You Know It!
For a 2-year-old brand, creating only its 5th season, i-am-chen’s Unclassifiable collection, unveiled at Fashion Scout during LFW, exhibited the level of polish and maturity of a well-established fashion house. Inspired by twentieth century artist, Agnes Martin, expert knitwear designer, Chen, identifies with the intrinsic tension in their respective work and processes. Martin is widely considered to be a minimalist for the simple repetition of line and form, however, she herself identified as an abstract expressionist, due to the spiritualism most prevalent in her post-1967 work.
In the Primaries
As a die-hard colour lover, I can’t help but classify collections by their dominant colour palettes. Bright, primary colours have returned to many a catwalk this season, possibly in response to the complex political and social environment we’re currently experiencing. Across the world - from Brexit to Trumpism - there’s little clarity in our immediate future. Primary colours, however, are the purest, simplest visual expression. They are the wellspring from which all other colours emanate. Often associated with children - their toys, paintboxes and drawings - perhaps they offer us a psychological reassurance that the world at large cannot.
Or maybe they’re just eye-catchingly beautiful, especially when expressed, as above, in graffiti prints and sporty stripes!
There’s no denying that pastel colours can be a little insipid in the wrong hands! I’m a HUGE fan of pastels, but I prefer when they have significant saturation levels and not too much white, so that the resulting tints are more power, less powder puff, like these looks above. Mixed as they are with a deep blue, or an acidic green, they are every bit as powerful as the primaries.
Incidentally, the look I wore to the i-am-chen show was top-to-toe lilac (below). Technically a pastel, but I hope you’ll agree, I was anything but a shrinking violet!
What I Wore
…in Fractal Fashion
The pastel theme carried through, mixed with strong brights, in these über-geo patterns. By layering checks over stripes, pitching diagonals against verticals and playing with proportion, Chen creates a modern, visual language [I first experienced at her SS19 show in September] that I very much adore!
Colour blocking was most clearly expressed in the two dresses above, where it was integral to the garment and clearly defined in building-blocks of colour. This motif played out through the collection, however, in both individual pieces (below far right and far left), where the ‘blocks’ were more like swathes of colour, and in the styling, where tops and skirts of different hues were teamed with scarves, socks and accessories in bold, clashing brights.
While Chen’s work may look as though it’s beautifully stitched together using traditional garment construction, in truth, she employs the latest, most innovative techniques, on state-of-the-art knitting machines, to create fabrics all in one go into a single piece. Working with world-class technicians, Chen pioneers nascent textures and fabrications to bold and beautiful effect. Incorporating her disarming brand logo into the fabrics adds a modernity and freshness to the collection. Every detail is considered, from sock cuff to scarf hem, or integral to a dress fabric itself.
There’s no doubt this multi-award winning designer is one to watch.
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Thanks for reading!