It is remarkable how freeing limitations can be; tasked with re-inventing denim each season, Faustine Steinmetz has yet to disappoint. Through the revival of ancient techniques, the re-using of old materials, she is able to change the way we view this humble fabric. For Spring/Summer, the garish aesthetic of the 00's - denim layered upon denim, diamanté encrusted - was elevated: the kitsch refined, the tawdry made elegant.
The result was unexpected, eclectic - "Levi's on acid", Steinmetz remarked following the show.
Monogrammed ombré looks were achieved through layering and hand dyeing; 'Steinmetz' imprinted through overshoot weaving onto recycled cotton. Worn with diaphanous sheers, crystals cast upon them as though blown there by the wind, or doubled with denim woven with textured, ombré thread that resembled the soft waves of hair, or sea swept patterns in sand.
Technical aspects of fabric are celebrated, pushed to new limits; and it is this careful consideration which underlines Steinmetz's design aesthetic - collaborations expand her vocabulary, sustainability informs her designs, and her work feels as revolutionary as is it relevant.
Intending to work with artisans in Burkino Faso on the hand dyed textiles, she ties her values into craftsmanship, and in doing so highlights rarities in the fashion landscape: clothing beyond commerce, lovingly crafted.
In one look, recycled denim formed the base for crystal formations, clear like cut ice and dusted with shimmering cerulean minerals. Cast in foam by Luke Brooks to look like jeans, like art - an intentional duality between organic/object.
The presentation itself was an immersive installation, referencing Vanessa Beecroft’s Sister Calendar (2000) and Joseph Kosuth's One and Three Chairs (1965), which find beauty within repetition, and a deeper understanding within its subtleties. Models languished under blue lights, in dioramas set into the walls of the Topshop show space as though museum exhibits with the technical execution of their fabric detailed on plaques next to them. And though expressive, details became lost within the light; the clothes more beautiful in real life.