Charting the rise of Britain's bad taste movement
British humour is defined as highlighting the absurdity of everyday life through satire, innuendo and puns. As it turns out, we Brits have been pissing the world off with crass jokes since well before Chaucer and this distinct brand of tom-foolery can be used to brush off everything from Brexit to baked beans.
A group of young fashion designers emerging from Central Saint Martins, disillusioned by the fashion’s all-too-often miserably minimal aesthetic, are teaching the industry how to take a joke. Described as ‘LOLwear’ or ‘Farceshion’ by the British press, the movement took London Fashion Week by storm in 2017, after Rottingdean Bazaar sent models clad in a potpourri of found objects down the catwalk at Fashion East’s MAN show.
To the FROW’s delight (or disdain – Rottingdean Bazaar are marmite on steroids) shirts were replaced with pasta collages and foam cutlery stood in for fabric. The models literally hadn’t a stitch to wear. “We’re a nice relaxed couple, very open minded and seeking new experiences,” Rottingdean Bazaar tell me. “Him 5ft7, bald, average build, likes Bette Midler, dancing and laughing. Him 5ft9, brunette, more to love, likes cooking, cleaning and short walks. Can accommodate or travel.”
Central Saint Martin’s degree shows are a breeding ground for up and coming LOL-tastic designs, and in 2017, Daniel Samson released his ‘Tory Punk’ collection. His models (stick-insect women teetering precariously on 8-inch platform stilettos) appeared dressed as budget stripper versions of Daniel’s political hero, Margaret Thatcher. Baggies punctuated satin trouser suits and for the finale, a port lady called Lav (short for Lavender) was carried down the runway by four topless, oiley hunks.
Daniel Samson tells me, “I am rebelling against boring vegans, people devoid of glamour like Jeremy Corbyn and other drips. Flat shoes, hideous clothing with no personality and wankers in general have no place in LOLwear!”
But has LOLwear got the capacity to go mainstream?
In 2018, Edwin Mahoney’s paddling pool couture made such a splash on Instagram that it still pops up a year later in random memes. “I’m very fluid and flexible as a person,” he tells me. “I like to engage the idea of control like everyone else, but obviously have none. My process is incredible scattered. What I start with and finish with are worlds apart. I’m incredibly emotional so I’d say a collection for me is really a grouping of creations based on emotional responses that I’ve collated into a narrative. It’s like writing daily in a journal then taking the best one liners and crafting a story from those thoughts.”
Though it may have dented the internet Kim Kardashian style, paddling pool dresses have not showed up in Zara stores just yet, however, Edwin's collection did inspire a shoot by Patrick Jambon in Sleek mag and the designer has since worked with musicians Madonna and Poppy. "The girls that wear my clothes are fearless, fabulous, strange, ordinary, and everyone."
Meanwhile, under the alias Harrie Bradshaw, fashion design graduate Harry Freegard hoodwinked his tutors at Central Saint Martins into inviting him to show a final collection literally held together by safety pins and blind faith at its annual press event. I practically begged the bloke for an interview, but he refused to comment because he takes himself too seriously – ironic, right?
Trends come and go and it won't be long before LOLwear heads the same way as normcore, but I think it's interesting to note that in times of social and political turmoil, it's oddities like LOLwear that keep us sane.
Having said that, Edwin told me, "FUCK LOLWEAR. I fucking hate the term LOLwear. No-one has said it to my face yet, but I’d fucking rip them to shreds for doing so. LMAOwear or ROFLwear would be better. I can’t stand the mediocrity of LOL."
"The girls that wear my clothes are fearless, fabulous, strange, ordinary, and everyone"
"Flat shoes, hideous clothing with no personality and wankers in general have no place in LOLwear"
"FUCK LOLWEAR. I fucking hate the term LOLwear. No-one has said it to my face yet, but I’d fucking rip them to shreds for doing so"
"Him 5ft7, bald, average build, likes Bette Midler, dancing and laughing."