LVMH Prize finalist Aaron Esh showed its catwalk collection at London Fashion Week – and the rising ready-to-wear label delivered one of the best showcases of this year’s schedule.
Taking to the Tate Modern to unveil its debut womenswear collection alongside a slew of beautiful new menswear, Aaron Esh presented a collection that brought the “rigour of Savile Row tailoring with the spirit of British subcultures” together, in a range spotlighting one the best rising British talents on the LFW calendar.
“Combining establishment rigour with the rebellious spirit of youth culture”, as per the show notes, the collection featured pieces cut from a different cloth to a crowded pool of London designers, embodying British adolescence in a sleek and sexy manner.
Labelled ‘Chaos and Control’ the range symbolised the coexistence of those two themes in everyday life, channelling that dichotomy into clothing crafted for a generation that feels somewhere between both.
“The collection is very London-centric,’ Esh explained to Hypebeast, “it takes the sort of identity and style codes of inner city London but combines it with Parisian glamour – while subverting that to be more real and wearable.”
Bootleg blue jeans, charcoal uniforms, cropped bomber jackets, signature frayed baseball caps and crisp white shirts give the collection an elevated look and feel deriving from contemporary London life, with attendees on the front row able to see the quality, craft and sheen each piece was given by Esh.
Esh’s trademark ‘comma’ shoe has been morphed into boots and flip-flop sandals (his favourite pieces from the collection) and jeans (developed by ISKO) to give an air of a late-night off-license run, presenting the sense of loose formality Esh has become revered for.
“I like this idea of that identity of a person who wears jeans, flip flops, big shades for that early hours booze run – I wanna make the clothing feel real,” Esh explains, “I think with a lot of luxury clothes, there’s a lack of reality. It feels like a different world. I don’t connect or know anyone like that.”
That sense of reality and personal affinity is also reflected, lovingly, in the SS24 sunglasses, which were designed by Esh’s girlfriend, Fiona Hartley. “Anyone can buy some sleek, Tom Ford sunglasses, but we wanted sunglasses that made sense for us,” he tells us, after we talk to Esh about the glasses reminding us of his partner, “The fact that you’ve said that means they’ve done their job.”
The collection is intentionally genderless, for Esh. “The men’s looks I think can be perceived as a point of view on gender… and when you add the women’s, it doesn’t. It starts to make sense as a wardrobe that sits on one rail together.” Silhouettes are sleek and lean, with fluid drapery, balloon-hemmed boucle tweed coats and deep-pocketed silk bombers are stunningly refined, but provide playful, yet practical, pieces crafted for both men and women. “The nuances in the design details mean you can mix both traditional elements of menswear and womenswear between just one wardrobe”
Expertly-tailored jacket flaps follow the sharp curvature of mezzaluna knife edges, while buttons are covered according to the practises of couture. Elegant moleskin tailoring is finished with satin shawl-collared lapels, pleated trousers glided freely across the runway, while Lavallière silk shirting with trailing necklines also lean into this sense of loose, luxe formality.
Launching the collection just hours after Burberry was a bold move, for Esh, but those who filled up the Blavatnik Building at The Tate got the chance to witness one of the most exciting new names in British fashion and truly understand his label’s intentions. “We added 25 outfits and 25 models, it’s very, very visceral,” Esh explained, “being here will help people understand what the brand is – I think we’ve really spent time just making it make sense. I think it’s valid, authentic… very me, and very us – and it’s for everyone in this room working with me.”