The trench coat is a pervasive piece in Xander Zhou’s collection and it contributes to a series of heavy silhouettes that are bolstered further by the designer’s preference for thick fabrics that are vivid in colour and detail. Most striking are the monochromatic sweater/trouser combos in blue, red, black, grey, white and gold. Single, bold diagonals across trenches, sweaters and scarves – in the forms of stripes and wrappings – are a recurring feature of the collection.Xander_Zhou_AW14_003

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So too are allusions to academia. With bespectacled models clutching scrolls, the trenches take on the form of scholarly gowns. Escutcheons nod to varsity coats of arms while fabric accessories hanging upon raised forearms give the impression of the draping robes of ancient Greek philosophers.Xander_Zhou_AW14_007

The inclusion of headbands, particularly those in white and cream, transform the trenches yet again, this time into hospital dressing gowns, which, in turn, transform the headbands into bandages. Jacques-Louis David’s The Death of Marat, with its detailed drapery, is called to mind. Furthermore, loose-fitting, pyjama-like trousers turn the whole ballroom into a hospital ward gently bustling with good-looking convalescing patients taking their daily exercise.

There is a touch of space too. The ethereal music and the black, crater-pocked backdrop that sits at the beginning of the runway like a scorched moon help to contextualise a sparkly gold space tunic and metallic grey trench.

Words: Jonathan Socrates

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