• Text Lewis Firth
  • Photography Harry Clark
  • 16th June 2015

New Romantic

Fashion East 

The pioneering initiative, headed by Lulu Kennedy, has helped spawn some of the greatest designers in the British and international fashion industries. Only two designers share the spotlight at Fashion East this season: Wales Bonner and Charles Jeffrey. But what they’ve brought packs a punch.

Charles Jeffrey

The era of the New Romantics is one that many covet. Its free-spirited nature of explorative ideals surrounding sexuality, gender and instinctual ways to dress is what fed Jeffrey’s SS16 world – but not consciously: “The way I design isn’t necessarily the way a typical designer would work… it’s about reacting to people,” he explained. The link between New Romanticism and his work is a serendipitous actuality, not a deliberate one. One that has links to the name of the collection and a club-night he started on his birthday last year, Loverboy.

Jeffrey’s designs were born by instinct, not a stimulus, as such (taking inspiration from Loverboy attendees). Denim jeans, t-shirts and tunics were splashed with paint – but after they had been sewn, not conventionally before, on the fabric. A type of action-art. Some pieces were made on Savile Row, like the double-breasted boating jacket. But what Jeffrey created was a peacocking microcosm, reminiscent of the freedoms of an 80s subculture: the room was dark and drenched in music; models dancing on a podium – some half-naked – as rose-petals were thrown over them. Not just a collection but an exacted Jeffrey-world.