Fashion Focus: Henrietta Ludgate

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The very purpose of fashion design is to interpret the future via fabric, silhouette and size, each season imagining how the trends of today will evolve into the trends of tomorrow. At his Paris show for spring summer 2013, Roland Mouret articulated his thoughts behind the role he and his peers play within the cultural realm and their responsibility for shaping the year ahead. “As a designer you’re asked to predict the future and you have to have a sense of honesty,” he said. The catwalk becomes a stage on which the world’s leading creatives play out their vision for how the rest of us are supposed to craft not only our style sensibility but our thinking.

If future thinking is the purpose of fashion design, it is no wonder then why so many of the current season’s collections dabble with the notion of futurism, some in an almost otherworldly sense. In the same way that film directors and writers translate their dystopic and fantastical ideas into cinematic wonderlands allowing people to cross between planets and free themselves of their mortal limits, or literary worlds that set a troubling hierarchy in place and imagine a state of humanity not too far removed from the one that currently exists; so too, fashion designers craft their collections in line with their view of reality.

We witnessed an array of space-age style capsules this season, from Aganovich’s Star Trek-inspired costumes to Giorgio Armani’s spaceship-worthy fascinators, though the bizarre and fantasy were also explored through Yohji Yamamoto’s urban coven and Viktor & Rolf’s fairytale allusion. Away from the catwalk but no less present on the Fashion Week radar was Henrietta Ludgate, whose Supernova collection sent our sartorial compass soaring to the stars. Drenching her designs in a cosmic colour palette that set black and white off against one another, with flashes of electric neon pink and sparkly silver detailing; Ludgate tapped into the trend for Sixties style while injecting a feel of the futuristic into her collection.

Staying true to her core brand values, the designer crafted her capsule from sustainably sourced British materials, bringing those stellar hues down to earth by way of luxurious wools and silks. Ludgate retained her futuristic edge however, with her flair for structural design and the inclusion of her signature up-cycled tubing. The Beid swimsuit is one piece which epitomises the sci-fi nature of the designer’s aesthetic, with its futuristic silhouette and bold colours, while the Syrma jacket blends traces of traditional Japanese style with western sci-fi references. Alongside the preference for contextualising her capsule around the notions of science fiction, Ludgate also incorporated a certain erotic element into her designs taking the back of a shimmering Izar dress down to meet the tailbone and exacting a suggestive triangular cut-out back into the white Electra gown.

Marrying these notions of futurism and eroticism with a series of oriental inspired cuts, as she honed in on the trend for Japonica that has surfaced this season with beautiful kimono and Maia shapes; Ludgate juxtaposed the exotic influences with her trademark minimalism to refine the sexuality in her collection with subtle elegance. This cultural dialogue seamlessly moves through the capsule, offering here a bohemian Naos/Nash short suit cut from beautiful oriental cloth and there an exquisite floor-sweeping Gacrux gown, truly illustrating the designer’s individual style. This statement dress, named like so many of the pieces to reflect a world apart from the one we live in, defines the intention of the Supernova collection to venture beyond the confines of earthly borders and view the world in a new and unique way.

Drawing inspiration from Italian fashion designer, Elsa Schiaparelli, and Ludgate’s own Scottish heritage, the Central Saint Martin’s graduate is steadily seeing her own star rise, counting Livia Firth among her loyal fans, and grow ever brighter within the compelling constellation that is the fashion industry.

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