Antoni & Alison – The (Million, Gazillion) Dresses


Written by: Sarah Fox

Although they’ve worked together for 25 years, it was still surprising to see that Antoni & Alison were opening London Fashion Week on Friday at Somerset House.
Due to their reasonable price point (pieces sell in the hundreds rather than thousands) and supposed happiness to remain as outsiders to the fashion industry, we never really regard Antoni & Alison as a major fashion brand, but after their debut at opening the BFC Show space for AW12, is this all about to change?

I’d love to say yes, but I fear my criticisms may outweigh my praises.

The show was long, repetitive and at some points disappointing.
The latter was not due to the fact that the clothes were unwearable or, even worse, ugly – but simply because from afar the creations seemed so intricate and well-made… until you realised that every single piece was a digital print.

I suppose this says amazing things about technology these days, and as the voice-over at the start of the show proclaimed, the design duo have been waiting years for this kind of printing to become available. However, as lovely and clever as it all is, it’s not exactly the real thing, is it? You can scan a few buttons and flecks of glitter onto fabric, but it doesn’t represent the craft that goes into stitching on individual sequins, beads and ribbons.

I felt like I’d ordered a Nandos and received a Chicken Cottage Special.

The repetitive aspect I could easily overcome, because it wasn’t like we weren’t pre-warned. The press release and invitation stated ‘Girls walking up and down in dresses’, and fair play to them because that’s exactly what happened: nary a skirt nor coat in sight.

They tried to trick us at one point with a couple of pieces of silk reaching over the models shoulders, but alas, this was still part of the dress.

In all honesty, I didn’t dislike the collection. Many of the pieces I would gladly wear myself, and in fact they would make great ‘throw-on’ outfits with a black jacket and heels. This was a recurring thought for the first ten dresses or so, but once you’ve seen 400 (slight exaggeration, perhaps) you really start to reconsider the shift dress that you were planning on wearing the following day.

In the end, I went for trousers.

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