Issa Womenswear Autumn/Winter 2013

To the onlookers who stand outside the main showcase area at Somerset House after Issa’s runway presentations that unveil the brand’s womenswear collections during every London Fashion Week, a collective feeling of exuberant cheerfulness seems to emanate as the doors open and envelope their private space with contagious energy. The Brazilian designer always relies on uplifting house music by Leo Greensalde and on models (such as Cara Delevingne and Jordan Dunn) that sport smiles and an upbeat attitude that relies on carefree dancing rather than rigid strutting of the catwalk. The last show, which revealed Issa’s Autumn/Winter 2013 collection, was no exception, with an audience of fashion critics, buyers and celebrities embracing a pervading sentiment of shared sartorial joyfulness.

Inspirations for the collection came from the rugged landscapes and habits of native Navajo Indians and were manifest in bright geometric designs from woven blankets and wide colourful brushstrokes that mirrored wild rivers, rolling hills and sprawling valleys. However, this was ethnic deluxe at its most lavish height, as evident in flowing caftans made from silk chiffon, in feathers that came to life in woven jacquards, abstract monochrome lace designs and herringbone shapes, and in regal crepe de chine dresses embroidered with plumes, beaded fringes, cut mirrors and crystals that suggested tribal headdresses. At the same time, the fluid silhouettes conveyed a contemporary sense of sophistication, through garments such as trousers with front pleats, circle skirt dresses, fitted jackets, flared jacquard dresses, slim-fit silk shirts, neatly fitted or flowing trousers, and dresses with open backs.

Despite the tribal influences, Issa did not forget the importance of London’s fashion heritage and its incessant dialogues with distant influences: ponchos, fur coats, large hats and belts, wide-lapelled velvet suits, voluminous suede coats lined with shearling and turtle necks worn under sleeveless dresses provided a subtle nod at the British capital’s Swinging Sixties and colourful 1970s and how those periods adopted exotic landscapes and cultures, in a way not dissimilar to Issa’s own integration with London’s fashion world.