Helena Manzano’s transition from fresh London College of Fashion graduate, circa 2014, to rising star, circa right now, owes much to the antidotal qualities of her namesake brand’s dichotomous unfinished-yet-complete complexion. A pervasive nonchalant, bordering-on-incidental sultriness is fed by cropped hems, cut-out detailing, and freely intertwining self-tie fastenings. The frequent application of exposed pinch seams finished with tonally contrasting flatlock stitching emphasizes the on-body planar dimensionality of her designs while creating a shaded relief topography that perceptibly fluctuates in accordance with the wearer’s motions. Bleach-effect graphic patterns, at times concrete, at times abstract, add an impression of after-market DIY modification. In an effort to mitigate seasonal waste, left-over fabrics are repurposed in the production of new garments. These facets build up into a slinky naïveté that Manzano’s self-referential work uses to wedge open the numerous chinks already apparent in the curtain wall that envelops the haute couture-fast fashion cycle, and, in an invitation unpolluted by any hint of guile, offer a fresh arena in which one can express self.
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