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London Fashion Week buyer diary: Machine-A's Stavros Karelis

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On the first day of London Fashion Week’s spring 20 womenswear season, Stavros Karelis, buying director of London store Machine-A, shares his highlights from the day. 

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Paula Knorr, spring 20

With a focus of fresh talent and new names, Friday at London Fashion Week (LFW) kicked off the capital’s spring 20 showcase with a vibrant and varied selection of designers.

Changes are afoot at LFW. A “public” series of shows and talks is running in paralell to the usual trade offer, and there is an increased focus on sustainability and ethical fashion in the event’s Designer Showrooms exhibition.

However, on day one it was business as usual, as the September sun shone on a steady flow of international buyers and industry insiders. 

Young London designers and names to watch dominated the schedule. Highlights included 16 Arlington’s 1960s-inspired Italian disco and Paula Knorr’s elevated, sequinned drapery:  hypnotic and glamorous collections that obeyed international demand for luxe party dresses.

The day opened with Mark Fast, where highlighter brights and textural excess combined with a strong 1980s aesthetic.

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Matty Bovan spring 20

In fact, both neons and 1980s styles made several eye-catching appearances on the catwalks. Bora Aksu’s hyper-feminine ruffles featured retro ruching in vibrant oranges and pinks, and Roberta Einer offered a collection that harked to a 1980s party aesthetic with designs dripping in sequin glitz.

Many of the collections on day one provided a sense of buoyant, daring opulence, and there were sequins and colour aplenty: alongside neons, lilac and pistachio green were popular choices.

In contrast to these exuberant collections, another highlight from the day was Eftychia – a recipient of the BFC’s Newgen funding – with a muted collection of statement boardroom power suiting. One to watch in coming seasons.

Other notable shows from the day included Fashion East’s emerging names and Matty Bovan, who presented an Arts and Crafts collection featuring Liberty print fabrics and wildly exaggerated proportions.

Stavros Karelis

Stavros Karelis

Buying director of London store Machine-A, Stavros Karelis, shares his thoughts on day one. 

Why do you attend LFW? 

London Fashion Week is the best platform to discover emerging designers that are the game-changers, the trend-setters and, now more than ever, are considered to be extremely popular – even more than some of the big commercial brands.

In terms of performance, Eftychia [which showed today] has become one of our best-selling brands, as well as [other London designers] Kiko Kostadinov and Richard Quinn.

What are you looking for in the LFW shows this season?

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Eftychia spring 20

New talent is mainly what I am looking for, as Machine-A’s core audience and customers are in search of the latest and most innovative designers.

How was today at LFW? 

Very busy, and so inspiring too. Diverse, inclusive and celebrating creativity to the maximum.

Which collections stood out today?

Kiko Kostadinov’s womenswear collection was absolutely breathtaking, and the same applies to Matty Bovan. They both push womenswear into completely different directions, but have managed to achieve a new hybrid form of womenswear that is so on trend right now, merging traditional and cool with a great mix of fabrics and colours.

Another presentation that I was absolutely in love with was Eftychia, who is a recipient of the BFC’s Newgen award. I am obsessed with Eftychia and I think what she does is the best womenswear tailoring that I have seen for a long time. So fresh and unique, with great attention to detail, chic and cool. A great approach to uniform.

I am a huge fan of Fashion East and what [founder] Lulu Kennedy has been doing all these years, always hand-picking in an early stage those super cool designers who, with time, become a huge deal. This season, Gareth Wrighton and Yuahn Wang were so inspiring.

Finally today we saw three Central Saint Martin’s graduates – Goom Heo, Sheryn Akiki and Kitty Garratt – debuting their commercial collections in our store. I was extremely happy and pleased to see the great response of the industry experts and public audience to these collections, as I sincerely believe we are talking about three phenomenal designers that will become the future of fashion. 

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Yuahn Guan at Fashion East

Are there any trends or must buys emerging from the collections so far? 

I think each one of the above mentioned designers have created something unique and very specific to fit into any common themes that are running among them. Each is celebrated for an individual aesthetic, not creating trends for others to follow or filling in trends. In that sense I think the trend remains being unique and different and having a strong individual aesthetic.

How were the New York shows?

I didn’t attend, but looking through social media and online, I have the feeling that it was one of the best seasons for a long time.

Are there any designers you are looking forward to seeing in the international collections?

Y/Project and Maison Margiela.

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