What’s my age anyway? / A nod to eternal youth with Mary Benson
Would life be better if fashion was one big party? Mary Benson would seem to think so. The young designer’s latest offering led us away from the runway, down the dimly-lit stairs to the 100 Club, where just minutes from the more traditional fashion week venue, 90s tunes met thoroughly up-to-date creativity in an explosion of neon and noise.
Benson is a designer well worth watching. At only 25, she has already been picked-up by Fashion East, mentored by Lulu Kennedy, and featured in the likes of Vogue, Wonderland, and ID magazine. But most importantly, she’s creating designs that still burst with her initial excitement, and show an individual stamp of unapologetic, extravagant youth. Her latest show is an encapsulation of that: a nod to the culture she grew up in, and a celebration of a past that goes by too fast.
The collection is a mess of youthful neon, with converse, 90s hair, roll-necks and slips. But it’s an exacted mess. Usually known for her heat-printed garments, for this collection the designer has joined with embroidery artist Aniela Fidler to bring a new dimension to her pieces, adding a level of detail and craftsmanship belied by the teenage theme. If this is girl gang, its also something more complicated – a resurrection of the past that does full justice to the vivid and at times dark nature of early experience.
Over the fabrics spill details that are trippy, and intricate. Graphic eyes and lips reveal themselves as heavily couched layers of thread and swarovski; moons float on the back of embroidered denim, sheer layers and slubby tees all set off against the live music. Across a thin white slip stars with drunken eyes collect, like memories of nights out too late, echoed by the stars strewn over the floor. Benson’s designs have always invited you to enter her world – with this gig-cum-show, -cum-rave, she creates it.
It’s contrast that is key – nothing’s all that simple here. Benson’s girls are cool, but they’re also embracing the elements of youth culture you might want to deny, and turning them into something truly fantastical. By immersing her clothes in the world she created them for, we’re invited to live a little in the atmosphere of energy, euphoria, just plain fun that fashion can be all about. And hell, we don’t want to go home.
AW16 Mary Benson for London Fashion Week
Design by Mary Benson, embroidery by Aniela Fidler, set by Dora Miller | @mary_benson
Photo/article: elena ellen