Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding’s collection for Autumn/Winter 2015 echoes the sentiments of Helmut Newton’s image of a woman and a young girl on a cliff who clash yet share a sisterhood. The music is effervescent eeriness welcoming loud thumps and a consistency that confuses the sensation that a slow devastating unknown factor may come through. The stage, a disarray of separated wooden rooms with wheat husks growing out of cotton fields, replicates the models’ hair: a canvas of corn braided rows dramatically sweeping into an elegant up-do with only the most subtle wisps of flying hairs still reminders of an always present chaos.
Matthew Harding says the collection is inspired by “the turbulent years of turning from girl to woman and the slight awkwardness of coming of age and finding out who you are,” something the designers saw in Julia Fullerton-Battens series “In Between” which looks at the “minor chaos” of blossoming into womanhood. Julia will have a girl jumping into the air, but she may look like a broken fish vase.
An ajar and misplaced nature does swim forward, first catching breath in the show’s opening outfit: simple black tights paired under an elaborate concoction of a flowing long sleeve top draped over a skirt, with a tail-shirt slyly falling in the back. The tail-shirt is white with black lining while the skirt, a clash of bold black diagonal and horizontal stripes, sings high C against a fully white right sided top that meets a collaboration of varied thick and specially challenged black lines who find harmony at the tip of a loosened black turtleneck. The fabrics flow yet their imagery ever so slightly missed the mark for forming a pattern, rather nostalgic of those early high school years as girls enter womanhood.
Graceful silks suspend delicately in the second set of creations, often in black with a subtle touch of indigo, the designer duo mastered and created further variations of the shirt. We see this through fluid silhouettes moving past the criteria of a shirt and curtailing into the standards for a dress then layered upon swishing satin pants, one look paired with a draped tuxedo jacket with velvet stripe appliquéd sleeves. This season was the time to try something new. “We are kind of growing around that [shirts] and growing past that…from the beginning we wanted something tight and focused: less looks and more punchy. We've done embroideries in the past and this is more technical and more difficult.”
Drawing inspiration from Faig Ahmed’s idea of stretching and distorting paintings and woven carpets, the duo revisited embroidery in an attempt to combine heritage in this digital era. We see haphazard placement of abstracted embroidery which have been slightly misplaced on coats, skirts and shirts, adding a sense of luxury to the collection.
There are more wools and luxurious fabrications than usual this year with the addition of mismatched embroidery and velvet stripe appliqué, reminiscing odd years that girls drown during adolescence and blossom into adulthood. She is young, she is curious, and she has an indigo purple’s royal power: amidst erratic polarity these practical clothing choices command a silent and intriguing confidence as the woman wearing them floats meaningfully to the tune of the wind’s disarming grace. Bravo, Palmer Harding.
Palmer Harding Autumn/Winter 2015 Looks:
Palmer Harding Autumn/Winter 2015 Details:
Palmer Harding Autumn/Winter 2015 Backstage:
Runway Photography: Courtesy of We Are Village
Details and Backstage Photography: Emmanuel robert