Matty Bovan is the type of designer who looks how you’d expect a fashion designer to look. With pink hair, bright eyeshadow and wearing his own wild and wonderful creations, he appears just as he is: a true, grassroots creative.
Upon graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2015, the York-born designer won a prestigious LVMH Graduate prize and went on to work as a junior designer at Louis Vuitton before being hand-picked to join talent-nurturing fashion collective, Fashion East, where he showed for three seasons. In February this year, he debuted solo on the catwalks with a show opened by activist model-of-the-moment Adwoa Aboah. This season his show is supported by the British Fashion Council’s prestigious NEWGEN bursary.
The 28-year-old designer is London Fashion Week’s wunderkind. Learning to knit from the age of 10, Bovan’s designs still hold that hand-crafted magic that harks back to 1970s punks, the tearing and deconstructing and experimentation that original London fashion was made of.
This season, his show took the idea of ready-to-wear and stretched it to the limit, suspending the reality of fashion in a way that hasn’t been seen since Vivienne Westwood’s early collections (she, coincidentally, was sitting front row).
Models walked the runway in deconstructed tulle ball gowns whose crinolines were embellished with multi-coloured cable ties attached to hand-crocheted flowers. A cacophony of screen-printed shredded tops bearing the slogan “infinite void”, gold lame dresses, neon tasselled jackets, jersey and knit, and a clash of loud, bright prints that were inspired by primitive art and hieroglyphics.
Bovan’s collection was accessorised by Stephen Jones millinery: fascinators made from feather dusters, sink plungers, spirals of Alice in Wonderland-esque bank notes and even a trellis of ivy, atop shaved pink and orange hair.
For anyone questioning Bovan’s commercial savvy, models carried with them the fruits of Bovan’s first commercial handbag line – sandwich boards of his success. Collaborating with American stalwart Coach, the fashion ingénue played with proportion, with gargantuan bumbags worn cross-body, and others so small they’d be unlikely to fit the new iPhone.
The key word that inspired this collection was “sinister”, yet it felt anything but. It felt, actually, more like a rebirthing for an industry leaning dangerously close to convention; a fashion utopia that offered a return to what London Fashion Week should be about: raw, electrifying talent.
“I have a lot of unrest about the political climate we live in,” says Bovan. “The only thing I can do in respond to that is bang a drum, hard, for the idea of totally being yourself.”