Every once in a while, the collection of a new, fresh-out-of-uni designer whips up the sort of frenzy of attention, admiration and online coverage which generally follows the discovery of a star in the making. Josh Read, of Kingston University, is one such example of this phenomenon in the class of 2015. One of three to be awarded LVMH’s prestigious Graduate Prize, Read has distinguished himself as a capable and promising new designer.
Read’s story might sound familiar: interested in fashion from an early age, he developed an understanding for the ways people – and women in particular – convey their characters through the clothes they wear, and has taken this principle forward into his own work. In an interview with Wonderland magazine, Read expressed his career aspirations, saying that the breadth of possibility within the fashion industry offers ‘freedom’. As any young person trying to cut it in the big wide world of fashion is aware, there are, however, financial limits to what many are able to achieve in the immediate wake of graduation. This was a point picked up on in an article on Vogue.com in which Read was mentioned as one of a handful of worthy young creatives. As the article pointed out, though; due to winning the LVMH competition, Read is, in fact, spoken for. The next year will see him undertake an internship at Dior: a particularly apt placement, it would seem, for an aspiring designer whose recent collection was largely inspired by fashions of the 1950s; in a recent interview with Hunger TV, he declared “a long lasting love for Christian Dior”.
The influence of this period is evident in Read’s designs from the full skirts and wide fur cuffs on the sleeves and hems of some of his coats. In particular, Read has said, it was the glamorous and high-maintenance appearance that certain women in the 1950s maintained, even while carrying out everyday chores. The idea of bringing together elegance and femininity with the mundane nature of daily errands was a key idea that Read’s collection was formed around. Walking the dog? There’s a coat for that. You needn’t worry about the unglamorous nature of all this entails, nor the unsightly bulge of plastic bags in your pocket – there exists an inbuilt pouch for this exact purpose in one of his ingenious creations. In a considerate move, Read has also anticipated the need for an inbuilt Oyster card holder, and has thus cleverly incorporated one into a sleeve. In Read’s world, practicality and ‘chic’ are able to coexist without a cargo pant in sight. One might never guess that the colour scheme of bright red, orange and blue make reference to several popular high street supermarkets – another paradoxical element which finds beauty in the banal.
Read has succeeded in producing a collection which both breathes life onto the catwalk, yet manages to be wearable. He cleverly juxtaposes bold blocks of colour with soft, flowing stretches of fabric. The drama of a full, floor-length crimson skirt is both striking and simple, and extremely effective next to a cropped, utilitarian jacket complete with protruding breast pockets. Beneath those pockets, however, is a magnificently clashing inverted triangle in royal blue which hints at the feminine waist beneath it. Such a detailed understanding of the balance needed when combining typically feminine and masculine shapes is what sets Read apart as an exceptionally talented new addition to women’s fashion. There seem to be endless dimensions to his garments: the use of those bold, primary colours doesn’t impede the sophistication of the woman who wears his designs.
After interning at Brooks Brothers in New York for three months last year, Read says he fell in love with the city and plans to return in the future with hopes of establishing himself there.
Words Peta Clark
Photography Mary Sims Howlett
Styling Tori West
Hair Betties & Baldwins
Beauty Alice Tapsell
From Bricks Magazine, The New Generation Issue, 2015