The British NewGen womenswear designers from London Fashion Week going global
Words: Emily Hemsley
London Fashion Week S/S23 saw the very best of British designers. Alongside the likes of well-established labels such as Richard Quinn, Fashion East and JW Anderson, there were some fresh faces thanks to the British Fashion Council’s NewGen initiative-a scheme supporting emerging talent. Since taking a stint in the limelight, the skilful designers’ futures are looking prosperous, and with their brands becoming well-received globally, there is sure to be plenty more to come.
NewGen designer Chet Lo’s name was already known amongst the fashion crowds thanks to his signature sheer spiky knitwear being a favourite among Gen Z idols including Dua Lipa, Doja Cat and Kylie Jenner. The New York-born, London-based Asian designer’s debut solo show was a futuristic, colourful array of joyful hues, cultural clashes nodding to his East Asian heritage and trendy Y2K rave influences featuring his signature knits, low-slung waistlines, super-cropped styles, daring cut outs, delicate embroidery and draping dresses. First coming to London in 2015, Lo graduated from the Central Saint Martins’ BA Knitwear course, becoming fascinated with textiles and the endless possibilities and innovation that knitwear could bring. After interning at Proenza Schouler and Maison Margiela under fellow Saint Martin's graduate John Galliano, Lo went on to join the roster of young talent at Fashion East, where his debut graduate collection was received with critical acclaim, featuring in magazines Vogue, L’Officiel, W, Schön, Marie Claire, Crack and Dazed.
Greek-born womenswear designer Eftychia Karamolegkou kept it cool, calm and sophisticated at London Fashion Week, incorporating elements of classic men's tailoring details and construction into women's garments for an effortless and timeless collection of suit co-ords, satin slips and wide-leg trousers. In 2018 the Central Saint Martins MA graduate Karamolegkou launched the London-based brand EFTYCHIA which strives to remove gender signifiers, reflecting contemporary unadorned femininity. Since being shortlisted for the LVMH prize in 2019, she has been showing at London Fashion Week under the support of the British Fashion Council’s NewGen platform ever since, with each collection growing her popularity.
Feben’s debut runway show drew inspiration from spirituality and tarot cards, featuring her trademark twisted silk technique, innovative fabrications with playful silhouettes, lavishly draped dresses and hand-embroidered accessories in a bright colour palette. Born in North Korea and raised in Sweden by an Ethiopian mother, the designer spent much of her childhood displaced and living in migrant camps, translating her feelings of misplacement, as both a child refugee and a Black woman, into raucous and surreal garments. Since moving to London and recently graduating from Central Saint Martins as an Isabella Blow scholar, she has already engaged a slew of high-profile fans, dressing Erykah Badu and Janelle Monáe, whilst Beyoncé requested costumes for Brown Skin Girl, her ode to the beauty of Black women.
Ukrainian-born womenswear designer Masha Popova already made a name for herself across social media from her versatile daring denim designs and butterfly-printed tops with A-list fans including Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish, Bella Hadid and Kylie Jenner. For her debut runway show, Popova channelled her rage to create a collection with dark energy and a central motif of tire treads. The line also included a strong Y2K influence with low-slung jeans, denim jackets, halter tops and mini skirts. This take on sensuality combined with playful turbulent draping and subversive use of materials are tools that she often uses to create feminine yet care-free garments. Having graduated from Central Saint Martins and previously interned at Maison Margiela and Celine, she uses her experience of growing up in an industrial area of Ukraine to inspire her perspective on fashion.
Nensi Dojaka certainly made an impressionable London Fashion Week show with her lingerie-influenced 90s aesthetic collection of sultry sheer gowns, sequined minis, and satin slips with intricate cutouts. Dojaka’s brand of sophisticated sexiness stands out for its refinement, with her red carpet-ready looks a favourite among celebrities including Emily Ratajkowski, Sophie Turner, Emma Corrin, Carey Mulligan and Bella Hadid. The London-based Albanian womenswear designer launched her namesake label in 2017, in the meantime graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2020, presenting with Fashion East and claiming the 2021 LVMH Prize for Young Designers.
Designer Steven Stokey Daley behind the mens and womenswear label S.S.DALEY cleverly redevelops ideas of British heritage, exploring themes of British aristocracy and class in regard to uniform and attire. Drawing in a big crowd, his latest show was a dramatisation inspired by the love letters between writers Violet Trefusis and Vita Sackville West with a fluid collection of tailored garments, luxurious knitwear, nature-inspired artistic prints and relaxed fits. The Liverpudlian designer is not short of success. Having won the prestigious LVMH prize in 2022 following his graduation from Westminster in 2020, he went on to launch his eponymous label later that year. Working in the menswear teams at Alexander McQueen and Tom Ford, his graduate collection was scouted by stylist Harry Lambert, and later featured in Harry Styles' music video Golden as well as titles such as British Vogue and i-D.
Rising star Yuhan Wang looked up to the sky for inspiration to her latest whimsical collection featuring delicate lace and embroidery, frills, patchwork, mini styles and draped skirts for truly dreamy looks. The eponymous London-based womenswear brand was established by Chinese designer Yuhan Wang in 2018, offering a sensitive approach to the portrayal of feminine strength under the lens of romantic nostalgia. Since graduating from Central Saint Martins with a BA & MA in Womenswear, Wang was scouted by Lulu Kennedy's Fashion East in 2018 and showcased her work for three seasons under the scheme, garnering worldwide attention from press and buyers alike, selling collections globally to Dover Street Market New York, Browns, Farfetch, Ssense, Beams Tokyo, H. Lorenzo Los Angeles and Joyce Hong Kong.