Sorapol AW12 by Joanne Young
I was excited to receive an invite for the A/W 2012 catwalk show of Sorapol because I had heard that the creative director of this young underground brand is the extravagant club kid Daniel Lismore. So I eagerly arrived at the graffitied, atmospheric venue of Old Vic Tunnels to meet photographer and burlesque performer Tigz Rice aka Tigzy aka Raven Six, who took some of the photos shown here. There was a palpable air of excitement in the long queue, which was chock full of beautiful beings. Some of them, like Boy George, were superstars, and others were well known and popular scenesters, fashionistas and nightlife luminaries, such as Jodie Harsh, Lady Lloyd or Philip Levine. The crowd began to complain when it descended into a disorderly mass to enter the show space via a too small archway, resulting in a serious amount of squeezing and ticket waving. At one point I really thought I had lost my chance to go in, which sadly happened to a large number of guests. A few really disappointed ones even started burning their Sorapol tickets in protest, I hear, but Sorapol could not have been more apologetic on their twitter feed and I am sure this will be something they will think through more carefully next time.
Sorapol AW12 by Fay Myers
Thankfully, once inside, the vibe was completely friendly, happy and relaxed. The show, entitled Iron Grip, opened in utter darkness aside from the lights behind a curtained archway, from which smoke crept down the catwalk against sounds of sirens, gunfire and explosions. After a few minutes the first model appeared and started walking slowly towards us as Charlie D Soprano sang in a majestic and slightly sinister opera style. I could not really make out what or in which language she was singing, but, intriguingly, the day before the show she wrote on her twitter feed that she was ‘translating pop songs into Russian for tomorrow’s gig’.
Sorapol AW12 by Nicola Ellen
Indeed the outfits that Thai head designer and recent graduate from the London College of Fashion Sorapol Chawaphatnakul sent down the catwalk were so theatrical and adorned with such symbolic props, that one could not help wondering – I like to read the press release after a show – what was the specific reference point or message of this collection. What the press release revealed was that for his A/W 2012 collection Sorapol was inspired by a very specific storyline, which is rather helpful to know when looking at these creations. The story is that of Vasilia, an orphaned girl in pre-revolutionary Russia, who was adopted and raised by exiled Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov aka Lenin. The story then goes that Lenin took Vasilia and his communist ideas to the Russian cities intending to overthrow the aristocracy, but he found Vasilia a place in the Royal Household and there she fell in love with Prince Alexander. Suspicious of this, Lenin ordered the assassination of Prince Alexander. Love and aesthetic beauty won over her father’s ideology and Vasilia attempted to warn the prince but failed. So, enraged and heartbroken Vasilia joined the ranks of the white-clad soldiers fighting to restore Russia’s splendour.
Sorapol AW12 by Tessa McSorley
Via this fairytale, therefore, the A/W 2012 Sorapol collection was created from Vasilia’s point of view with an emphasis on the grandeur of the pre-revolution Russian culture, showing lots of opulent furs, long gowns and embellishments of pearls and gold. [A little parenthesis here to say that I really hope the fact that Sorapol Chawaphatnakul is a Buddhist means all this fur on show was not real.] There were also a lot of elements which suggested war, death and the clash between luxury, or beauty, and fighting. For instance the second outfit was a long red gown with a line of bullets running down from the shoulders to the waist on both sides, complemented by a very impressive tall beehive hairdo in which a gold gas mask had been incorporated. Another favourite hairdo was again a tall beehive this time with a gold skull poking out of it. The theme of death was further emphasised by a model holding a black skull prop in her hand and battle was spelt out by dresses with structured armour sleeves and a silver, gloriously sparkly military suit.
Sorapol AW12 by Joanne Young
The make up for the show was executed by Illamasqua. Unfortunately it is not properly evident in the photos, but it looked fantastic up close. A pale, whitish effect, with glittery touches here and there extended down to the models’ cleavages and brought to mind either corpses or the snowy Russian landscape or perhaps powdered aristocracy.
Sorapol AW2012 by Janneke de Jong
The last couple of outfits were especially theatrical, featuring predominantly white and gold colours, and the crown worn by the last model suggested some kind of victory. This collection was far from commercial, and I can see how it would not be everybody’s cup of tea. As for myself, I was slightly disappointed that it was not more over the top, but then a lot of the time my ideal fashion design is something along the lines of Andrew Logan’s Alternative Miss World. In any case when the Sorapol spectacle ended the vibe was certainly one of victory, with Sorapol Chawaphatnakul running down the catwalk in really high spirits and the audience congratulating him with cheers and a standing ovation.
All photography by Tigz Rice Studios and Maria Papadimitriou
Categories ,Alternative Miss World, ,Andrew Logan, ,Blow PR, ,boy george, ,Buddist, ,Burlesque, ,Charlie D Soprano, ,Daniel Lismore, ,Fay Myers, ,graffiti, ,Illamasqua, ,Janneke de Jong, ,Joanne Young, ,Jodie Harsh, ,Lady Lloyd, ,Lenin, ,london, ,London College of Fashion, ,Luxury, ,Maria Papadimitriou, ,military, ,Nicola Haigh, ,Philip Levine, ,Prince Alexander, ,Raven Six, ,Russian, ,Russian Revolution, ,Sorapol, ,Sorapol Chawaphatnakul, ,Story of Vasilia, ,Tessa McSorley, ,Thai, ,The Old Vic Tunnels, ,Tigzy, ,Tigzy Rice, ,Vasilia, ,Vladimir Illyich Ulyanov, ,war
- Sorapol presents IMMORTAL: a fashion film for the A/W 2013 ready-to-wear collection
- Wood Festival 2011 Review: Goodnight Lenin, Thea Gilmore, Telling the Bees
- Sorapol ‘Euphoria’ S/S 2013 Catwalk Review
- British Fashion Designers at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia A/W 2011: Louise Gray
- Pam Hogg: London Fashion Week A/W 2014 Catwalk Review