In the run up to London Fashion Week‘s FW18 show season I was asked a few times who I was most looking forward to seeing and as I thought about the previous season, there was one name that kept jumping out at me: STARSICA. The fledgling brand showed as part of Fashion Scout’s Ones to Watch for SS18 and put together a striking and playful collection featuring neon, cutouts and 90’s style logos. It’s a show that really stood out and one that I was definitely looking forward to this season.
FW18 saw designer Ike Seungik Lee produce his first full collection and like anyone else, I wondered how this would stand up against some of the more established designers who had shown before STARSICA on days one, two and three. I needn’t have worried, the STARSICA show was an absolute doozie and even now, it’s one of the one’s that stands out in my mind as being one of the strongest shows of the season in terms of the collection, the production and the darkness. Oh the darkness…..
The show, entitled “Seirēn sings for a Mad King” takes its inspiration from learning the phenomenon of otherness. The idea behind the collection is primarily derived from observing the behaviours of the unspecified masses around us and Lee does this to perfection. From the eerie opening to the jerky music box soundtrack, the show had me captivated from start to finish.
There is an inherent sense of humour and futility in the collection that is the DNA of STARSICA, displaying distorted aspects of our society in conceptual symbols. The models walked as exaggerated versions of themselves with jerky motions and through theatrical breaks and interactions with the audience they left us wondering if, in essence, we are all the Mad King. We utilise the vision of those who interpret the egos and lives of others through their own subjective perspectives. With this in mind, the collection constitutes a sense of dramatic construction, and draws on reinterpreting Greek tragedy as a fashion monologue. It truly was a sight to behold and truly if you weren’t there, you missed out.
STARSICA’s models took on the appearance of siren-like dolls, a little like the Monster High dolls a child would play with, eerily made up to fit a distorted ideal. They carried with them pieces from the debut STARSICA accessory line in the form of three dimensional coffin shaped bags which reinterpret the portable bags carried by the Mad King himself, hand mirrors and even bird cages. Semiotic symbols adorned a grey suit which stood out in a collection where every piece was saleable.
The playful motifs in wings and soft fur which can be understood as symbols of Siren, the troubadour, have been reinterpreted with a modern twist and found in the prints of Lee’s own paintings and the patterns created by embroideries. These echo the essence of mythological elements such as the star, bird and semiotic signs, the collection is as fun and uplifting as it is spooky and eerie.
Inversely, the Mad King is portrayed through the gothic arched lines in wearable suits and hard reliefs on coats. The primary colour for the Mad King is dark purple, while grey is used to describe the Mad King’s power. Finally, glen check patterns and wide sleeves create the juxtaposition of fabrics and colours to express intertextuality and cohesive characteristics of Siren and the Mad King. These pieces are highlighted with romantic silhouettes on tail edges, scribble prints and splashes of gold which reflect the sense of sadness brought about by the death of the Mad King, perhaps the reason for the models appearing so tortured. I loved every minute of it and left feeling like this was probably going to be the most memorable show of the season. I wasn’t wrong.