Portraits of London Creatives

London is known for its experimental and inventive designers—the city’s roots in fashion history and its creative energy have made it a top and unique fashion center of the world. SOMA had the chance to photograph a few of the city’s out- standing artists who have the creative talent and eye that will make a lasting impact in the fashion world.

Rapunzel’s prince charming and infamous headpiece extremist, Charlie shocked the fashion world at London Fashion Week with his AW10 and SS10 collections of towering wigs–literally, the Eiffel Tower upon a model’s head, lighting up as she struts down the runway. Charlie’s giant-sized wigs–ranging from voluminous hairstyles that are a couple feet long to a lip- shaped hair sculpture–show his unique, creative and mechan- ical talents as a designer. It’s no wonder that he has a long list of celebrity clients, including Peaches, The B-52s, MGMT and Lady Gaga, who in a recent music video showed that “Bad Romance” couldn’t defeat damn good hair. Charlie uses unique materials such as Styrofoam, clay, fur and human hair to create his wig masterpieces, each taking weeks or months to create in his Shoreditch studio. Born in Bordeaux, Charlie moved to Berlin in his teens where he learned his chops at haircutting before settling down in London to work on his fashion lines. At just 23 years old, the hair maestro has already shown his darker AW11 collection, consisting of black lace leggings, sheer tops, fur accessories and more fur. His recent avant-garde head- pieces are less outrageous (you can’t really beat the surprise of footlongs of human hair), but just as inventive, dramatic and jaw droppingly gorgeous as his past collections. The creative designer is also venturing off doing a French TV extreme makeover show called “Charlie’s Treatment” on Konbini, where the man himself will be styling, cutting and, most definitely, volumizing. Be on the lookout! This designer is injecting the fashion world with his coolness, one wig at a time.

It’s not very often you see a combination of masculine edge and feminine romance successfully come down the runway–and that’s exactly what makes Simone Rocha a standout, new and up-and-coming fashion designer deserving of showcasing her SS11 collection at London Fashion Week in the Fashion East show. Born in Dublin, Ireland, with already established fashion designer John Rocha as her father, Simone studied at the National College of Art and Design in her hometown before receiving her MA in womenswear fashion design at Central St. Martins, London, earlier this year. The 23-year-old designer is stirring excitement in the fashion scene after her eclectic, gender blurring AW10 collection: a mixture of androgynous black jacket coats, tulle tiaras, minimalism and, of course, skirts with cut-outs in the front, revealing nothing but bare leg. Simone’s design aesthetic is nothing less than eye-catch- ing, making simple and militaristic silhouettes breathtakingly beautiful and inventive with its girlish charm–must haves for every girl looking for a fresh addition to their wardrobe that speaks to both the dark and light sides of their personality. Her AW10 collection will be available in September at Dover Street, London, and the fashion world is waiting for her new collection to show at London Fashion Week with high hopes for another tour de force. Although her father is a hard act to follow, Simone’s impressive collection proves she’s not just “daddy’s girl”. She’s a force to be reckoned with.

A Child of the Jago is not meant for the lighthearted fashion- isto. “A Child of the Jago is a child of the street. The destitute and illegitimate progeny of a hopelessly rundown environ- ment,” says the website of their new menswear line established in the UK, co-created by Joe and his creative partner Barnzley. A Child of the Jago’s AW10 collection, “Monkeyana,” debuted at London Fashion Week in February, revolutionizing the typical suit look with oversized suit jackets, combining a disar- ray of stripes and checks, spontaneity and raw street persona that sends Navajo Indian, circus ringmaster, Hells Angels and Napoleon all down one runway with style and ease. Joe co-founded the lingerie house Agent Provocateur in the mid ’90s, becoming a staple creator of must have nipple tassels and other kinky bedroom wear that brought powerful sexuality into the British fashion scene. Barnzley ran the labels Activist and Terrorist with Joe in the past, and the two joined forces once they became fed up with commercial fashion–and their new line shows no mercy. With Joe as the son of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, and the two’s punk rock background since childhood, it’s no wonder that this duo have produced a rebellious line emitting such raw charisma, unsym- pathetically challenging mainstream fashion. Provocateur permeates throughout their collection of unique, high quality fabrics and distinctive pieces. Wow. The typical man’s suit is looking like quite the snoozefest now.

The fashion business is merciless. An industry where many young fashion designers go unnoticed, yet their war cries are prominent, Lulu Kennedy is here to the rescue with her entre- preneurial prowess. A saint for budding designers and a vision- ary for the fashion world, Lulu has created a non-profit project of guidance and prestige. She is not just a talent scout, but also a mentor and the director of UK’s heavenly Fashion East. With her personal flair, inimitable laid back style and impressive eye for talent, Lulu has helped build and shape the London fashion scene by providing a stepping stone for fresh young design- ers, many who have turned out some of the knockouts on the London Fashion Week catwalk and have hit international status (Gareth Pugh’s sci-fi latex tailored for the Predator, anybody?). Now, Fashion East is one of the must-sees at fashion week, showcasing a handful of talented young design students twice a year. After celebrating ten years since Fashion East’s start in 2000, Lulu is making headlines with her own line Lulu & Co, a collection of exciting and eclectic designs by personally Lulu- discovered talents such as Roksanda Ilincic, Jonathan Saunders and Richard Nicoll. The line is launching this October and will be available at Opening Ceremony in NY and LA, Colette in Paris, and Harvey Nichols in London.

– Amethyst Wang
Photography Olivia Beasley