Vauxhall Fashion Scout’s Autumn/Winter ‘Merit Award’ Winner, Phoebe English has had the fashion media’s full attention since winning the coveted award. With her first solo-showcase, it was the young-designer’s first “all eyes on me” showing; a prospect that would have most ill at ease. However, this season, we saw something that proved entirely otherwise from the acclaimed designer.

Opening the show, maintaining previous seasons’ palettes- a mostly monochromatic affair- we saw English’s exploration of her treatment of rubber carry through into next season’s collection. However, skirts with planes of shivering sand-washed viscose, set against sculptural heavy knits carried a depth of texture that communicated English’s growth as a designer since her graduate showcase.

As more looks made their way down the runway, hemlines went from asymmetric, thigh-skimming, to full-length in translucent, stony rubber. Sticking with black, the contrasting, layered textures- with latticed, lacquered latex- became more drastic in their difference, proving English’s talent is in her ability to showcase textures with minimal colour- minimal, not “monochrome” being this season’s biggest difference.

Only last month, English confessed to ELLE’s Emily Cronin that she was uncomfortable with moving into “bolder” coloured territory; but not content in a place of safety, English pushed as far out of her “comfort zone” as tonally possible, with- quite literally- shocking pink. Bands of hot-pink, silk-screened gloss introduced a weightiness to the show’s previous viscose draping, enabling the all-black stoicism to transition into pink without looking “Barbie”. Still proving that a great deal of her skill is in experimental surface-textures, depth was added by way of the collection’s dense wool-uppers, and their fibre-glass finish produced by layers of fine, broken, rubber weave. If there’s anything to be learnt about English from her Autumn/ Winter collection, it’s that the ‘Merit Award’ winner’s future is likely as bright as her recent foray into colour- and that, is bright indeed.

Sara McAlpine (@sara_mcalpine)
Photography: Christopher Dadey

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