With several established brands stepping away from London Fashion Week this season, fresh new talents made their mark, and none more so than Conner Ives, who made his catwalk debut.
Ives, who became known for his signature T-shirt dresses, reworked from vintage pieces while still a student at Central Saint Martins, embraced his debut catwalk opportunity with a playful collection utilising sustainable methods inspired by American female icons.
“This year, I carried on with the practice I began last year. Each look begins as defining an archetype: women and girls I came across or was inspired by in Upstate New York,” explained Ives in the show notes.
Each style paid homage to an American archetype, from Jackie O to Anne Hathaway’s character in The Devil Wears Prada cleverly called ‘The Vogue Girl,’ contestants from America's Next Top Model, and there was even a look inspired by Anna Wintour.
This led to an eccentric line-up, showcasing his Y2K Americana aesthetic and use of vintage garments, deadstock fabrics and by-products from previous pieces. There was his signature reworked T-shirt dresses elevated for the catwalk with crochet trims and floral appliques, a sportswear fleece printed with American landscapes layered over a fringed halter neck dress, beaded mini skirts and tie-dye pieces.
There was also a series of demi-couture styles featuring beaded embellishments, Swarovski crystals and feathers, including the vibrant ‘Devil in a Red Dress’ which Ives said took 5 months of hand embroidery, utilising vintage sequin blouses, deadstock ostrich feathers and seed beads.
Other standout looks included a finale bride wearing a dress made from deadstock Italian silk charmeuse, Edie Campbell looked stunning in a quilted gown, while Ives created a two-piece black suit in recycled spandex made from plastic bottles, and model of the moment Paloma Elsesser strutting down the catwalk in a “Just Say No” skirt and top in ruched fabric.
Conner Ives showcase his Y2K Americana aesthetic during London Fashion Week
There were also a number of styles made in collaboration with emerging knitwear designer Zoe Horgan, including the ‘The Fosse Girl’ wearing deadstock viscose knit sweater with matching briefs, headband/scarf, and the ‘Stay at Home Mom’ sporting a coordinated trouser and cami/cardigan loungewear set.
Ives also added denim this season, working with Italian company Tonello, which specialises in sustainable technologies and innovative solutions for denim. The denim range included straight leg and skinny jeans, a shirt, and a maxi skirt. This was perfectly highlighted by Ives’ ode to the ‘America’s Next Top Model’ girl, working bootcut jeans with a reworked T-shirt camisole.
Ives said that this collection answered all his feelings of imposter syndrome and highlighted his passion for fashion.
“Passion, when I was at school, was almost described as a dirty word. Tutors would dissuade us from talking about any passion towards fashion; I guess for how trite it sounded,” added Ives. “But it always bothered me that I was lead to believe that passion was seen as something compromising. I often observe a lack of emotion in modern design; maybe because like me, we all fear a certain exclamation of passion. I made all these clothes with my friends; a dedicated team of young artisans that care as deeply about what they do as I do. If I’m ever remembered for anything; let it be passion.”
Ives may have only just graduated in 2020, but the young designer has already been nominated for the LVMH Prize, become part of Net-a-Porter’s Vanguard mentorship programme, done an exclusive collection for Browns and dressed Adwoa Aboah for the Met Gala. By the looks of his debut at London Fashion Week – we can expect a lot more to come.