Phoebe English

Showing and Telling with Phoebe English and Fei Fei Cicada SS/17

Showing and Telling with Phoebe English and Fei Fei Cicada SS/17

The Phoebe English presentation was a concept-driven collection exploring wastefulness and mindlessness. Models poured seemingly endless water, stood atop scattered piles of paper and pondered prettily with random stalks of flowers beneath them. While there were only a few models, there was plenty going on and once again we got a glimpse into the mind of Ms. English. Within such a beautiful, grand setting we were invited to witness a scattered melancholia – an organised chaos echoing that of fashion week itself.

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Phoebe English, SS/17

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Phoebe English, SS/17



However, looking past the sombre set-piece and theme, English offered interesting silhouettes and pieces in her signature monochromatic palette. Sheer netting was featured gorgeously on hemlines and over faces, with scattered straps providing edge and interest. If there’s a covetable item to every collection then that gorgeous black sheer dress was it. Chunky boots were paired with drapey jackets to provide an oh-so-current gender neutral aspect to the collection.

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Phoebe English, SS/17

The lines between Phoebe English and Phoebe English Man were blurred so you could picture disparate youth of any age or background working it. Textures and prints were clashed and layered to reflect the sartorially jumbled and edgy ways that we’ve come to know and love with English.

From one conceptual collection to another, albeit with greater emphasis on aestheticism and a nod to antiquity, Phoebe English chose to ‘show’ whilst Fei Fei Cicada decided to ‘tell’. Known for her lavish and elaborate designs, it is no surprise that this season’s Fei Fei Cicada show would be presented at the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington. The location’s main foyer, situated beneath the dome and a magnificent glass chandelier by Dale Chihuly, created a circular catwalk, in addition to providing the perfect backdrop for the designer’s opulent collection.

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Fei Fei Cicada, SS/17

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Fei Fei Cicada, SS/17

Behind the label is Fei Feng, a graduate of Central Saint Martins, who has undoubtedly taken influence from internships at Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, as evidenced in the theatricality of her pieces. Past collections have seen Feng take inspiration from Chinese porcelain, tapestries, paintings and calligraphy. The use of floral motifs, exquisite silks and luxurious velvets have remained at the forefront of Feng’s garments. As soon as the models floated through golden velvet curtains, to the sound of classical music, the space was transformed into a period drama. There were moments where it felt as if they had walked directly out of a Renaissance painting or had stepped off the set of a Merchant Ivory film.

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Fei Fei Cicada, SS/17

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Fei Fei Cicada, SS/17

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Fei Fei Cicada, SS/17

Embroidered hems with beautifully stitched floral patterns were reminiscent of William Morris’ wallpapers, while embellished tulles and hooped skirts created grandiose silhouettes that would certainly be difficult to manoeuvre on the Tube. Elizabethan-esque ruffled necks and puffed up sleeves were complemented by rich golds and various shades of yellow, brown and red. One of the show’s last look saw a model dressed in a gargantuan black dress carry a similarly enormous parasol, also cloaked with black netting. The room collectively gasped as everyone wondered how she would make her way across the room.

The intrigue grew even greater when Feng emerged to great applause and walked through the audience, leading them towards the museum’s Cast Courts. There stood the models dotted amongst sculptures, pillars and beneath doorways. Never before have I seen so many people rush into one space so quickly and curiously. By transforming into a presentation amid the types of relics that have so clearly influenced Feng’s designs, the pieces established themselves as part of a historical canon as well as walking works of art.

 

Phoebe English written by Sarah Booth and Fei Fei Cicada by Victoria Rodrigues,

Photography by Federica Tenti

 

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Phoebe English, SS/17

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Phoebe English, SS/17

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Phoebe English, SS/17

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