Pictures taken by Londonist's Natalie Ujuk
Diverse was certainly the name of the sartorial game at this alternative fashion week event. The show was awash with inspiration from different cultures and historical periods, including American retro, moody military, 90s bling, Eastern architecture and teases of swinging baby doll chic. Along with a full-range of classic and not-so-classic cuts - the puffball and the pencil, the 20s dropped waist and the 50s cinched one, the basque and the ballgown - you almost wanted to be able to pause the show and study its intricacies in more detail.
With such a wide range of styles, naturally not every collection was to our taste, but there was still some wonderful work on show. Half the catwalk events showcased the work of student designers and recent graduates from schools and colleges around London, some of whom were as young as 15 years old. Laura Haywood's classy pink-frilled swimsuits stood out, as did her sexy cinched waists and round-cut backs as well as her jaw-droppingly glamorous fur-trimmed cream cardigan. Freya Nagelsmann created understated, cool retro shirts and jackets, and special mention must go to the fabulous, psychelic designs of prize-winner Brett Martindale-Durning who, at the age of 14, already looks like a designer in low-slung baggy jeans, lumberjack shirt and Converse trainers.
Standing out amongst the more established designers were Maame Baryeh's rich colours and fabrics - plum corduroy, hot pinks and maroon wool, folded and cut like a soft envelope, taking the stigma away from high and low cuts and crazy colours and endowing them with class. Stunning Tanzania-meets-London creations came from Ally Rehmtullah, who is well-established in his home country where he makes clothes for the Royal Family (and yes, he threw that one in). Beautifully-made classic designs with Indian sensibilities were shown by Shilpa Rajan in her very first collection from her House of Bilimoria label, which she made entirely herself.
An event like Fashion Diversity reminds us of the fluidity of cultures through the cross-pollination of art, history, design and fashion, and perhaps there is no better city to illustrate this than our's. Londonist gets in a cab later that night and talks to the Arsenal-mad driver about the show. He listens with interest, telling us about traditional African costume. 'I was born in Kenya,' he tells us, adding proudly 'but now I am a Londoner.' Clothes take a leaf out of many a contextual book to create something new - and the designers on show on Saturday are hoping for a paragraph or two for themselves.