Letter From London: Seven of Our Favorite British Designers to Watch

In celebration of London Fashion Week, we bring you a very special Letter from London. 

In celebration of London Fashion Week, we bring you a very special Letter from London. Get to know seven of our favorite British designers right now.

Photographer: Mike Mellia. Stylist: Laurel Pantin. Hair: Takuya Sugawara. Makeup: Laura Stiassni. Model: Olivia Hamilton at Fusion Models. Photographed at Bath House Studios in New York City.

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Ashish: The Indian-Born, London-Trained Designer Redefining Modern Glamour

You'll notice the sequins first. They're the happy signature of the Delhi, India-born designer, Ashish Gupta. He has been a London Fashion Week fixture for over a decade, dazzling with his "everyday couture" designs which take their cues from pop culture (see past years' sequined Coca-Cola logo pieces), but also reference his heritage—everything in the collection is produced in India. Season after season, Ashish sends an over-the-top, joyful collection down the runway, reviving editors and buyers alike (for his last show, models on skateboards, and boys in high heels threw handfuls of glitter and confetti into the photography pit). Since launching his line, Gupta has won the British Fashion Council's New Generation Award three times, putting him in the company of Alexander McQueen and Christopher Kane. So while sequins and glitter may seem like a cheap thrill, it's clear that Ashish has real staying power.

Top and jeans by Ashish; boots by Dr. Martens, drmartens.com.

For more on Ashish, visit ashish.co.uk.

Tata Naka: Twin Sisters With an Eye for the Unusual

Identical twin sisters Tamara and Natasha Surguladze, who were born in Tbilisi, Georgia, make up Tata Naka—so called because those were the pair's childhood nicknames (because no one could tell them apart they were collectively referred to as Tata-Naka). In the 16 years since they launched their label, the designers have won the New Generation Award, but also retained insider, cult status without becoming overexposed. The Central Saint Martins-trained duo are known for their fun, colorful, quirky designs—they have described their ideal customer as someone adventurous and romantic, but with a sense of humor. Each collection features prints that are hand-drawn by the designers, and, just in the most recent collection, reference sources including Diego Rivera, South American dictators, and Surrealism. "Something just pops up in our mind and we explore and research it," says Tamara of their references. "Originality is key—there is no one particular source of inspiration, it's all extremely diverse."

For more on Tata Naka, visit tatanaka.com.

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Fyodor Golan and Être Cecile: Two Labels Using Prints and Patterns to Make the World a Brighter Place

Designers Fyodor Podgorny and Golan Frydman's mission is to make the world more colorful. And with their exuberant designs and vivid color combinations for their line, Fyodor Golan, they are. Between them, they have experience with Alexander McQueen, Issey Miyake, and Raf Simons, and were named the winners of Fashion Fringe, London's designer talent search, in 2011.

Meanwhile, behind Être Cecile is a power trio including style star and fashion consultant Yasmin Sewell. What started as a T-shirt label has since expanded into a full-blown ready to wear collection, each piece infused with the line's playful aesthetic, inspired by the character "Cecile," an Irish-born activist artist living in 1960s Paris. Clearly, the brand takes its style notes from classic French pop culture touchstones in a tongue-in-cheek way. Says Sewell: "We play with our pseudo-French heritage and create a product that easily slots into your life."

Sweater and shirt by Être Cecile; skirt by Fyodor Golan; boots by Dr. Martens, drmartens.com.

For more on Fyodor Golan, visit fyodorgolan.co.uk. For more on Être Cecile, head to etrececile.com.

Shrimps: Turning Faux Fur into Fashion's Must-Have Item

"My style is very British and quite eclectic," says Hannah Weiland, who launched her label, Shrimps, in 2013 and has since become known for her use of colorful faux fur. See it put to good use on fans of the brand like Alexa Chung and stylist Kate Foley, in fluffy and fuzzy coats that are more than a little playful. And while the aesthetic might be fun, with nods to '60s mod style, the line holds serious credibility, being stocked at the likes of Dover Street Market in London, Colette in Paris, and Bergdorf Goodman in New York. "My nana is one of my style icons," says Weiland, who also cites art, design, and the rest of her family and friends as constant inspiration. They must be a fun bunch!

Coat and scarf, Shrimps; dress by Ashish; shoes by Dr. Martens, drmartens.com.

For more on Shrimps, visit shrimps.co.uk.

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Kirsty Ward: Minimalist Design Meets Maximalist Sensibilities

Jewelry or clothing? That's the question you find yourself asking when it comes to the bold, tribal-meets-futuristic creations of Kirsty Ward. The answer? Well, it's both. "My aesthetic is a mix of bold statement jewelry and garments that often involve layering, color-blocking, and bold outlining," says the Central Saint Martins-trained designer (she holds an MA from the school) who spent time working with Alberta Ferretti before launching her own label in 2010: "I'm often inspired by contradiction and the mixing of unexpected materials."

Trench, shirt, and shorts by Kirsty Ward; shoes by Nicholas Kirkwood, nicholaskirkwood.com.

For more on Kirsty and her collection, visit kirsty-ward.com.

Phoebe English: Innovative Design Meets Old-World Techniques

"My aesthetic is based on visual 'conversations' between materials and the application of particular techniques—for example a shiny material versus a matte one, or a masculine fit with a feminine fabric," notes designer Phoebe English of her work, something the Central Saint Martins graduate (MA and BA, thank you very much) says is dependent on her mood at the time. "I like to play with contrasts and connotations," she says. Since graduating in 2011, with three awards to her name, English has been in a very good mood. She has been known to emphasize the importance of the "surface" in her work, which is evident in woven elements, unfinished seams, as well as non-traditional materials like rubber and latex. Having worked for a Parisian couturier, English's pieces are remarkable for their construction as much as for the avant-garde, somewhat dark, aesthetic. Find her precision-crafted pieces on the racks at Dover Street Market and her name in the 2015 Forbes 30 Under 30 list in Art & Style. Impressive stuff.

Bralette, apron, and culottes by Phoebe English; boots by Dr. Martens, drmartens.com.

For more on Phoebe English, visit phoebeenglish.com.


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Mary Benson: Practicing Party Dressing For a Zombie Prom Queen

Stepping into Mary Benson's wardrobe looks like a lot of fun. "Odd faces, eyeballs, and funny animals" are the hallmarks of the Leeds-born designer, who picked up a penchant for illustration at art college before studying fashion design at the University of Westminster. Decorating her distinctly girly designs (think: massive tulle ballerina skirts, and bell-sleeve jackets) are her signature drawings. While there's something whimsical about her clothing, it's also quite moody. "I illustrate the darkest parts of my imagination in tongue-in-cheek drawings," she says. We have Mary Benson's imagination to thank for breathing new life into the cliché party dress with her beautiful, strange, delightful designs.

Dress and jeans by Mary Benson; shoes by Nicholas Kirkwood, nicholaskirkwood.com.

For more on Mary Benson, visit marybenson.co.uk.

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