LONDON--Fashion East, the London launchpad for raw young talent, celebrated its 10th year with the launch of a 10-piece range under new label Lulu & Co. Each look, some of which were only seen on the runway--never in stores--were handpicked by Fashion East founder Lulu Kennedy from the archives of alum like Richard Nicoll, Roksanda Ilincic, Jonathan Saunders and Henry Holland.
To mark the occasion, the East End fashion pack brought the party West to Harvey Nichols in London's posh Knightsbridge neighborhood for a Mexican-themed disco replete with fish tacos, hibiscus margaritas, and wonderfully kitsch gold palm trees. Everyone from Roisin Murphy and Pixie Geldof to supermodel/presenter Jade Parfitt spun around in their favorite pieces from the range, while a tagteam set was DJ'd by Princess Julia, House of Holland and Hazel. We nabbed the ageless fairy godmother of London fashion, Lulu Kennedy, dressed in a fiery organza gown by Jonathan Saunders, to talk disco and a decade of designers.
Hard to believe Fashion East is in its tenth year! I am freaked out, it crept up on me. I've been doing this since I was 30 so it's kind of a blur. The designers I work with have become genuine friends not 'fashion friends', if you know what I mean.
What was significant about it being East? We were all working and living in the East end of London. As we got more established we moved closer to the center. We're not more mainstream, but we try to make it more accessible. It's an easy no-brainer for journalists who are really short of time. A bit like the way the music industry gets bands signed in a showcase.
For the MAN show during fashion week you built little wooden cabanas outside the tents, they were like these fantastic menswear stables. What's tonight's flavor? Tonight is sort of like Mexican disco. It's really random. Basically we indulged ourselves with our favorite things. I have a thing about Mexico and I love disco, it's really, really relevant. So you must of caught (disco act from NY) Hercules & Love Affair last Friday? Don't talk to me about it, I missed it! Everyone I know went but me and I'm really upset. You know what I was doing? You'll die. I was dealing with all the shipping documents to get the Lulu & co range delivered into the UK while that was happening. Literally, crazy customs issues. It's a whole new ball game. I can do parties, I can do fashion shows, but manufacturing and shipping of goods is a whole new thing which I'm learning via the Lulu & Co. range..it's not easy. How has it evolved? It's exactly where I want it to be. We are still selecting designers that go on to do well. We're the stepping stone between college and the next level of sponsorship At the time there were few if any people creating such a platform. Now there seem to be dozens. It could get a little bit over-saturated and then you kinda lose quality control. I'd rather not do a show than show some designer I didn't really feel.
What was the selection criteria for the Lulu & Co. range? Some were about me knowing immediately. Like this Jonathan Saunders dress, when I saw it at the show I just welled up. Then with Henry Holland we kinda sat around going 'ooh they're all so much fun and young...but let's produce something that you can't actually get, something I saw on the runway that never made it into stores.' Louise Gray's stripey (four of which were made) dress was another.
It appeals to different people's tastes, body sizes and price range. We're really looking to work with the manufacturers so we can get those prices down. Thanks again for a your time and for speaking with Fashionista I LOVE Fashionista, a great site...it's got balls!