Charlotte Knowles and Alexandre Arsenault of the (now mononym) Knwls brand have a knack for an appropriate collector’s title, this season settling on the word ‘adrenaline’. As the thrill of the live London fashion shows returned for the first time after the pandemic, the duo wanted to bring back all the visceral excitement of a high octane runway experience. “We always had these talks during the lockdown where people were asking, do you like the digital program? But for us, it’s like going to a rock concert rather than watching it on YouTube; it’s just not the same, ”says Arsenault. “The experience is so much more amplified when it’s live.
Obviously, they know a thing or two about creating a show. Marking their first time at an independent venue, Knowles and Arsenault opted for the bowels of an underground car park near Oxford Circus, where the models walked through specks of light on a thunderous industrial soundtrack, making it the one of London Fashion Week’s most exciting montages so far. This helped the frame to harmonize perfectly with the collection, which one could imagine being worn by a Mad Max firecracker not afraid to flash a bit (well, a lot) of flesh on a street race through the wet and concrete belly of the city.
Knwls’ signatures – waist-high bustiers, drop-waist pants cut in sheer mesh, elaborate riffs on underwear as outerwear – were all catered for, with a few surprises as well. There was an expansion of their distinctively earthy color palette to hot pink accessories, light blue jeans, and a final look of ghostly, ethereal whites and creams. A clever play of textures was also present, with thicker fabrics treated to appear oil-stained or speckled with acid, capped in ultralight stretch jerseys. The brand’s increasingly ambitious work with leather has been another highlight, from paneled mini dresses to a striking pair of webbed pants, fringed with leather tassels from the waist up. at the ankle.
Part of Knwls’ distinctive aesthetic is their ability to combine various influences in a way that never seems fancy. There was a touch of the Wild West in the raw, ready-made snakeskin cowboy hats and loosely laced suede effect dividers in Leatherface style, or their shiny riff on a bomber jacket, here with shoulders. in cocoon-style leather with elasticated rib panels extending to the armpit. A collaboration with white-hot jeweler Marco Panconesi resulted in gorgeous earrings and bracelets dripping with stones and colorful crystals that managed to feel both effortlessly bohemian and ready for the dance floor at Studio 54. .