I am fanatic about discovering and wearing new labels: there’s something about the thrill of the reveal, the sharing of that delicious new revelation. There is nothing more enjoyable than seeing a designer I love rise through the ranks to assume common sartorial parlance. I could have written a much longer list (one that would include jewelry label Alighieri, the softest Scottish knitwear brand, & Daughter, and London’s version of Reformation, Rixo) but for now, on the eve of the last day of London Fashion Week, here’s a list of new names from London to get hooked on.
Designers Vanissa Antonious and Alan Buanne hail from Sydney, but the duo launched their brand in London last year. I fell in love with Neous through a pair of over-the-knee stretch leather white boots called the “Bumble Boot,” which have a triangular heel that looks much more futuristically tricky to walk on than it actually is. This, I soon learned, is at the core of Neous: shoes that look super fancy (and I don’t mean bejeweled or multi-colored: more, like a Zaha Hadid creation) but are a dream to walk in.
Antonious, an alum of Harper’s Bazaar (both UK and US) and Buanne, who cut his teeth at British shoe brand Nicholas Kirkwood, both consult for other brands, as well as design their own, which gives them a vital self-awareness and knowledge of the entire shoe market. The Neous woman “values practicality — but with an unexpected twist.”
Their key styles include a spherical heel, conveyed in carved wood and perspex and a pair of black and silver two-tone boots.
From $415 – $835, at Needs Supply (and Net-a-Porter, from end of Nov.)
Alice’s unique selling point is intricate (and I mean, intricate) embroidery, layered lushly over silk, tulle, cotton gingham and velvet. The result is expensive but exquisite, with silk evening robes as her staple piece, reworked each season. SS18’s sure-fire hit is a pink suit with white embroidery, which saw Alice garner a feature on The New York Times.
After a short stint at Dries Van Noten and eight years as an embroiderer for artist Tracy Emin, Archer launched her own label in 2013. Her dream woman might not be unsurprising (it’s Michelle Obama) but her answer to the question, “Who is the Alice Archer woman?” reveals exactly why Alice is so unique: “Strong, feminine, bold and kind.”
Kind: it’s not a word you hear designers use often. For Alice, the gentlest soul with magic hands, it’s just a given.
From £700-$4600, at Barneys.
The newly-birthed baby from couple Antonia Pascale Ash (who previously worked at the BBC) and CJ Crooks (a former marine biologist), ethical jewelry brand Pascale x James is “a modern, sustainable heirloom.” Every piece of sweetie-wrapper-shiny vermeil jewelry (it’s also available in 18kt gold, should you prefer the spendy stuff) is crafted with fair-trade and recycled solid precious materials, in their London studio, for a pleasingly democratic price. The dream Pascale x James women include “Zoë Kravitz, Amal Clooney” and, duh duh duhhhhh “Leandra Medine.” Wear the Mini Moon pendant and earrings together over a plain black polo knit, for a seriously luxe-y look (that’s my winter look, FYI. Sssssh.)
From $54 to $2680, available internationally at pascalejames.com.
Not only does this accessories label win for looking so much more expensive than it is (“I wanted to make a bag with an affordable price tag — but I couldn’t give up on design and quality. So, I made my life a lot harder by trying to overcome that challenge!” says designer Youngwon Kim), it also has the best name in the biz: Danse lente means “slow dance” in French.
When it comes to this modern, unfussy brand — innovative shapes, beautifully-complementary colorways and no logos in sight — I predict a riot (Eva Chen’s already got one). My favorite is the hexagonally-shaped Johnny, which I’ve been carrying daily, on account of the fact that the white body and terracotta handle go with everything. Kim worked as a freelance designer before launching her own brand, and describes Danse Lente as “youthful and playful, but with elegant and classic qualities.” I couldn’t have put it better myself.
From $185 to $590, at Net-a-Porter, Moda Operandi and Need Supply.
Michael Halpern only graduated from Central Saint Martins (after an undergraduate degree at Parsons) last year. But when you consider that the New York-born, London-based Halpern consulted at Versace Couture before launching his own brand? Well, you know that you’re onto a big new red carpet name. And then when supermodel and actress Aymeline Valade opens a show, only his second ever? Well, you double know.
Sandwiched unassumingly between House of Holland and Burberry on the Saturday night of London Fashion Week, Halpern’s disco-ready, 70s-cued clothes, with its riot of pailettes and shimmering, Swarovski-drenched animal print, has already been worn by the starry likes of Marion Cotillard and Beyoncé. When asked what he attributes his rapid ascendance to, he cheerily replies: “Women wanting to feel a bit of release and sparkle.”
From $1,102 to $2,980, at MATCHESFASHION.COM and Bergdorfs.
Minki Cheng was born in Hong Kong and went to boarding school in Sydney, but when he graduated from Central Saint Martins, he “couldn’t imagine living anywhere else” but London. Having interned at Alexander McQueen, Cheng launched his own brand to create “a marriage of imagination and reality.” His staple piece is a “volumed, long striped shirt,” as seen on brand consultant Kate Foley, but his SS18 collection sees the designer experiment with ruched shirting and silk dresses spliced with striped shirt inserts, introducing a hint of avant-garde sensibility to the currently booming shirt market.
From $160- $650, at Liberty London, Galerie Lafayette and Lane Crawford.