Why designer Helena Manzano staged a fake fashion show


Emerging designer Helena Manzano doesn’t like following the rules. Having taken over a car park last season, for AW17 she staged a fake catwalk – with no guests, no press release, and no rows of chairs, the ‘show’ was instead the setting for her lookbook shoot.

“I was thinking about the stipulated fashion calendar, and how it’s important to be relevant during that time,” Manzano says of the shoot. “I like the idea that it was a show that everyone would have missed.” That might seem counter-intuitive for a recent design graduate trying to establish themselves, but Manzano has already found a great network of collaborators – including photographer Joyce NG and Dazed’s senior fashion editor Emma Wyman, who styled the lookbook. The pair collaborated last season too, with Manzano citing her “good eye and sensitivity” as the reason she likes working with her. “I love how she sees my work.” Meanwhile, it’s NG’s friends (and some of Manzano’s) who appear as models.

“(Fashion should be) thinking about the waste of materials created each season and try to repurpose as much as possible” – Helena Manzano

Interviewed for our spring 2017 issue, the designer described her approach as a kind of “stream of consciousness.” This time, that took her back to her core ethos of creating fashion that is engaged with the world around it. “(Fashion should be) thinking about the waste of materials created each season and try to repurpose as much as possible,” Manzano says, with her AW17 collection an exercise in this. “We were moving studios during this season – a lot of the garments are made from deadstock fabric we had hanging around, along with very standard materials such as wool gabardine and tailoring fabrics,” she asserts.

Like previous seasons, though, these are interpreted through the kind of textile techniques that have made Manzano one to watch – boiled wool has been sculpted, and her signature, surprisingly missing parts of clothes add another dimension to the narrative of recycling and reusing, “as if they were old toiles left behind.” This is Manzano’s antidote to the world of fast fashion that surrounds her – her own quiet revolution in turning the industry into one that is “aware of the impact of putting more stuff out there twice a year.” We’re definitely here for that. 

See more of the lookbook in the gallery above. 



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