Starting with LFW: Richard Malone SS18
Rebellion comes in many forms. In the case of Richard Malone, the discarding of visual chaos and the adopting of high-octane, sculptural, dramatic silhouettes becomes an act of rebellion in itself. To consider this collection at surface value would be to miss the point; Whilst these dresses may denote high-octane femininity, Malone is keen to assert: “this is not glamour.”
In a knowingly tawdry colour palette of ‘supermarket’ blue, green and yellow – the brazen colours he is endlessly enamoured by – Malone here explores ‘weird contrasts.’ As such, the narrative for this collection began with two anchors – the exotic showgirl costumes of the 1930’s and 40s, and photographs – taken on Malone’s iPhone – of discarded rubbish in the street.
The lifeblood of this young label is Malone’s detailed, sensitive observation of femininity. Beginning with a fascination around showgirls, by way of his grandparent’s old photographs of Blackpool, the designer explores an aesthetic portraying “the complete opposite of modernity” – making it something entirely new. Malone cares deeply about women. About their minds, and about dressing them in clothes which are at once transformation yet entirely functional. The intention is to enhance everything which makes them compelling.
References weave between ancient-looking, almost threadbare dancing costumes; Wartime reunions between soldiers and their wives; London Tube’s Picadilly line, and discount stores in Wexford, Ireland – Malone’s hometown. The idea of settings, or environments is key. Malone is fascinated by the interaction between women grouped together in cliques – most likely, in a pub.
Alongside signature shapes and techniques – scultural pleats, utilitarian tailoring and brazen use of colour – new fabrications are introduced for Spring / Summer’18. Lyocell, made from the bark of eucalyptus trees, is used across duster coats and halter-neck dresses. Malone works with a community of women in the South of India who hand-weave fabrics and work with natural dyes in processes which require minimal energy and water.
This is single-minded optimism; Quietly defiant.