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Naomi does Eureka at the Design Museum

There is a debilitating side to a fine vintage addiction. I prefer to abstain from the new fangled ‘fashion’. Like LA celebrities I have always considered it shallow, plastic and badly cut. Recently though a one off exhibition opened my eyes. I discovered that the excitement of innovation is sister to the shivery delight of a rare vintage treasure. Where did this lightening bolt occur? Read on and all shall be revealed.

Last Friday night I found myself furiously peddling along the Southbank to attend Eureka at the Design Museum. Inspired by their current Hussein Chalayan exhibition, Eureka focused on spotlighting the best green fingered fashion talent the capital has to offer. 15 hand picked hot young things at the forefront of fashion innovation in a one off showcase. Perfect for a cutting-edge philistine like me.
The museum was transformed into one giant catwalk as models ( dressed in the designers finest mingled) with the crowd to the dulcet tones of tinkling ivories, courtesy of Lola Perrin’s piano recitals. The ground floor was more akin to the fashionable bars of the ‘ditch as ‘Le tout Londres’ sipped wine and nibbled mini boxes of Thai curry.

I decided to eschew the lecture on intellectual property and made a beeline straight for the second floor gallery, where Fred Butler was hosting a DIY fashion accessory session. I made a hair adornment Carmen Miranda would have been proud off with nothing more complex than paper, old shoe buckles and an Alice band.

From there I ventured into the design museum ‘space’ (between the first and second floors) where a veritable smorgasbord of innovation lay waiting for me.

Mannequins and their human counterparts modeled cherry picked gems from across the design spectrum. There was Intriguing mensear by Katie Earle and James Long. Innovative fabric treatment and print from Iris Van Herpen, Rohan Kale and Kinga Malisz, whose final collection will be featured at the V&A ‘Fashion in Motion’ exhibition. I particularly enjoyed Nicola Morgan's razor sharp tailoring, made all the more impressive as her innovative technique brings fabric together without the need for sewing. A sort of fashion ‘Lego’ then and entirely brilliant.

However for my money the undisputable highlights were the wonderful Gemma Slack and Piers Atkinson.

Gemma was showcasing her a recent collection of highly structured mix wear featuring her own smoked printed fabric. She explained that her smoke prints were inspired by ideas of religion and science and how they relate. Inspired by the notion of Holy Smoke' Gemma took photographs of smoke trails using dark light and a subtle technique that made the images as natural as possible. This was spliced via digital production onto a man-made ‘sciencey’ fabric. Clever eh? The swirling plumes are so exquisite they could have come straight from Greta Garbo's mouth.

Having checked out her latest collection which previewed at London Fashion week A/W09 I now want one of her leather jackets with a slightly worrying ferocity, the kind I usually reserve for pristine 30’s dresses.

Piers Atkinson (if you didn't know) makes hats, and what a hat maker he is. He has collaborated with Zandra Rhodes and the Times recently proclaimed If you want to get ahead, get a Piers Atkinson hat. All of which would be vexatious if he wasn’t so damn nice. With a nod to blond cultural icons of femininity, he uses dolls, Chinese fans, paper, wood, silk, Perspex, neon tubing, flowers, pom-poms and electricity amongst other materials t create his look. I like his hats and head pieces so much that I want to pile them one on top of the other to form a minaret of millinery and sing an ode to his talents. But then with two of his hats currently featured at the Millinery exhibition at the V&A others you can go and sing at them yourself.

The main feature of the evening was an open forum discussion with all the Eureka designers. Chaired by Andrew Tucker from the London College of Fashion, the designers held their own against the sharp questions (and even sharper elbows) of massed fashion journalism. Apart from providing an insight into what makes the London fashion community tick, they valiantly rebuffed the notion that innovation should be toned down in the face the recession. One journo suggested that ‘going over the top’ may lead to their down fall to which one young bright thing responded’ we wouldn’t be here now if kept that in mind’.

With refreshments at very reasonable price (not many places left in London where a glass of wine will set you back £2) and the opportunity to check out the much hyped Hussein Chalayan exhibition, the evening was a wining combination of Friday night frolics and culture. Most winningly of all I left a convert to the new, and that was no easy task.

Eureka was the bright idea of Let Them Eat Cake Magazine in partnership with The Mushrooms Group.

The next late night will be 12 June for 'Time Machine' a celebration of London design past present and future to coincide with our forthcoming Super Contemporary Exhibition which opens 3 June .

Let Them Eat Cake is published quarterly and Issue 12 is out now! (£3.50)

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