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Karoo Rising






Hailing from Johannesburg, South Africa, now London-based designer Alexis Barrell is quickly becoming a favourite on the fashion scene. After only just launching her ready-to-wear line in 2010, she already has selling points in some major locations and a new high-profile creative consultant (Natalie Hartley of InStyle and The Sunday Times Style). Perhaps her most exciting recent achievement was her first ever showcase last month at London Fashion Week.

Barrell studied architecture in Cape Town and later, after traveling to Paris, began her love affair with fashion, studying at the Instituto Marangoni. Barrell also worked for a time in New York under Marc Bouwer, honing her skills in drapery and her knack for creating bias-cut silk garments. This lengthy list of travels and studies form the basis for her worldly aesthetic and ever-changing imagery within her collections.

Her showing at London Fashion Week was unique in its experiential approach to high style. Titled, "Karoo Rising", a tribute to her childhood in Africa, the presentation was full of nostalgia. For this event, Barrell created an entire world around the clothing in an intimate wine bar setting. Food, drinks, blues music, and plants scattered about the room played up the reminiscent theme. The presentation made sure to grab hold of each and every sense.

Barrell's cool demeanor is a perfect match to the laid-back luxury appeal of her SS13 collection. As it is only her third collection, one can see the progression of Barrell's style with each coming season. The idea behind Karoo Rising is a new sort of girl on the go, a free-spirited, international woman who is both feminine and strong. The colour story reflects this in its bright, whimsical take on the primaries. Prints reference blue and white Dutch porcelain juxtaposed with Victorian botanical sketches.

From slouchy silk trousers to free flowing shorts and track jackets, this collection has it-girl written all over it. A few standout pieces include a pale denim playsuit, leather shorts featuring the repeating botanical motif, and a goldenrod pair of overalls. The collection is easily bankable with its wardrobe charm. Each piece could be mixed and matched with staple pieces, or even with each other if you decide to be so bold. For any traveling woman, wearability is key and Barrell hit the nail on the head in that department.

While the collection's super delicate fabrication may have created a sublime, elegant vibe, boyish silhouettes with zippers and pocket details turn the volume back down to the streets. Floral headscarves with visor-style brims topped off the resort-ready look with a streetwear twist.

Words by Kelynn Smith
15:49 - 10/11/12

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