Sorapol autumn/winter 2012: Iron Grip
Sorapol’s A/W12 show, entitled Iron Grip, was held in one of London’s most unique and atmospheric performance spaces: The Old Vic Tunnels. The atmospheric, edgy venue was a fitting location for one of London’s favourite underground designers.
The vibe from the crowd was electric from the start. Upon arrival, priority guests were ushered past the crowd of hundreds eagerly hoping to get in, evident testimony to the designers increasing profile. Many of those waiting were turned away due to capacity reasons, and for those lucky enough to gain entrance, a short walk through the subterranean arches revealed a pre-show drinks reception with signature cocktails and canapés, held in the Tunnel’s bar area.
The anticipation was evident with all eyes on the catwalk area awaiting the call to be seated, notable faces amongst the crowd of scenesters, fashionsistas and East End boys and girls, included Boy George, Dr Christian Jessen, designer Christian Blanken, Philip Salon and nightlife luminaries Jodie Harsh, Lady Lloyd and Larry Tee. Indeed, the whole spectacle had a very New York feel to it, reminiscent of off-schedule shows I would attend back in the noughties in Manhattan and Brooklyn’s more unusual and off-the-beaten-track show spaces.
The show and collection itself was a visual feast, with the slick production and sharp continuity of the designs a sure indicator that designer Sorapol Chawaphatnakul, and creative director Daniel Lismore, are definitely, true fashion talents. The AW12 collection also showed a huge growth in direction, in just one season it seems that Sorapol has truly come of age and emerged like a butterfly from the cocoon that the SS12 collection represented.
Opening to flashing lights, gunfire, sirens and smoke, evocative of the Russian Revolution from which the the designer drew his inspiration, the collection was shown against a soundtrack of harsh yet beautiful, almost sinister, classical music to which the models literally shuffled down the runway. The clothes themselves were stunning, the sheer luxury of the materials and exquisite level of detail and decoration were a triumph.
Harking back to the decadence of yore, Sorapol’s AW12 collection featured fur, fur and more fur on gowns and coats alike, brocade and Afghan coats, velvet dresses and embellishments of pearls and gold were everywhere. For me, one standout piece was a black fur and lace dress. The model, dramatically cradling a black skull in one hand, looked stunning in this strikingly original look. Another stand-out, possibly showing the influence of Alexander McQueen’s early work with the designer, was a white and gold gown with fur wrap and ‘icicle’ detailing shooting out of the bodice to frame the model’s face, straight out of the Chronicles of Narnia‘s White Witch’s closet.
Also a favourite was the deep red pony skin sheath dress, with gold bullets running from shoulder to waist, and the pearly queen military suit.
The headwear and hats Daniel Lismore created were beautiful. Original, well-crafted and in perfect harmony with the outfits, I particularly liked the gold gas-mask, the skull pieces, and the pearl-encrusted army hat.
My overall impression upon leaving the show was of a grown-up and well-thought collection that showed concept and continuity. The clothes were beautifully crafted and showed great promise for Sorapol, a rising fashion star with true talent. This is one label to watch.
My sentiment was echoed by established London fashion designer Christian Blanken, who commented that he really enjoyed the collection and saw great promise. This is what he had to say about Sorapol:
“Viewing the Sorapol show the other evening, the comparisons are obvious but I think – with great story-teller designers like John Galliano out of action and with Sarah Burton taking the house of McQueen forward with possibly a slightly gentler and definitely more feminine vision – that there is an important place within the fashion spectrum for the type of raconteur designer that Sorapol is evolving into. I thought the tragic and grisly tale of Vasilia, the pre-revolutionary Russian orphan girl adopted by Lenin, was well told and really engaging for a spectator like myself. I can’t wait to see how he evolves as I think there is an obvious niche to be filled.“
Ian Michael Turner
Click here to see the collection.