Leading British designer Matty Bovan stages London Fashion Week show in a York chapel

Ground-breaking York fashion designer Matty Bovan brought London Fashion Week to his home city when he created his own locked-down fashion show at York Cemetery Chapel.

Wednesday, 23rd September 2020, 4:45 pm

Credits: Photographer – Lucy Alex Mac; styling – Matty Bovan; jewellery – Plum Bovan; shoes – Gina.

Bovan, one of the UK’s leading directional young designers, dubbed the “great bright hope” of British fashion, teamed up with Liberty and Gina Shoes to present his SS21 collection entitled Future.Olde.England, exploring England’s past, present and future. The presentation of images and accompanying film were part of London Fashion Week, which took place over the weekend, ending yesterday, albeit in a mainly digital online format.

“The film and look book were shot in York, in a 19th century chapel, on figures created by myself and my studio, characters which come alive in the garments,” Bovan said. “The images of them in situ evoke a very still, almost portrait-like quality against the surround of this classical environment.”

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This setting was the beautifully restored Grade II listed York Cemetery Chapel, designed by the architect James Piggot Pritchett, who based it on the temple of Erectheus in Athens. Completed in 1838, the chapel is considered an excellent example of late neo-classical style.

Much has been made of the fact that Bovan lives and works up north, with Vogue once commenting: “How amazing to think that this tatty grandeur – wonky crinolines, balloon headdresses, and all – should have come out of a suburban garage in York.” He moved back to his home city after graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2015 with an MA in Knitwear Design. His parents, Plum and Nick Bovan, have been his constant support and his late grandmother, Joan, introduced him to knitting and was part-inspiration for his AW18 collection. He went to Millthorpe School in York and at 16 to York College for a diploma in Fashion and an A-level in Art. There followed a foundation at Leeds Beckett University (where he now teaches), then a BA and an MA at Central Saint Martins. The Hepworth, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Leeds Art Gallery are favourite sources of inspiration.

Describing his SS21 designs, Bovan said: “This collection is all about questioning my own personal vision of England and what it means to be English.

“Growing up, I had a fascination with British history. With the doublet, a garment I have always been drawn to as it evokes 16th Century England, I’ve presented two different scales – regular and very oversized.

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Credits: Photographer – Lucy Alex Mac; styling – Matty Bovan; jewellery – Plum Bovan; shoes – Gina.

“With visions of English school rugby kits, striped and checked sweatshirting is swathed around the body into battle-ready shapes over foam bases, distorted in length and scale, forming elongated tie skirts.

“Heraldry shields are symbolic throughout the collection, screen-printed onto recycled motorbike leathers, vintage leather skins, and heavy sweatshirting.

“For prints, I collaborated with the New York artist Will Sheldon, who drew two custom pieces of artwork, one based on Puck and one of a dragon, both evoking myths and stories of England past, reimagined through Will’s beautiful and esoteric work.

“My mother, Plum Bovan, has once again created the jewellery. She has broken up old necklaces which she no longer wears, and salvaged pieces of junk, transforming them into something dynamic with a rich layering of ideas.

Credits: Photographer – Lucy Alex Mac; styling – Matty Bovan; jewellery – Plum Bovan; shoes – Gina.

“The process has always been so important to me, making this a non-sterile practice; the mess, the life, the energy, not lost from the pieces, no mere product design of blank ideas, but creativity, desirability and transparency.”

Matty Bovan is one of a number of high profile designers to have been a beneficiary of the British Fashion Council Foundation Fashion Fund established in March 2020 to support creative fashion businesses and individuals to survive the Covid-19 crisis.

During London Fashion Week, the BFCt hanked Alexander McQueen, Amazon Fashion, Browns, Cadogan, Clearpay, The Coach Foundation and John Lewis & Partners for their generous donations. Profits from the sales of the Great British Designers Face Coverings project in collaboration with Bags of Ethics also contributed, thanks to participating designers Halpern, Julien Macdonald, Liam Hodges, Mulberry, RAEBURN and RIXO. The face coverings can still be bought at ASOS, Boots, John Lewis & Partners, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose & Partners.

*To see the Matty Bovan film and more images, visit https://www.mattybovan.com/

Credits: Lookbook photographer – Lucy Alex Mac @lucyalexmac; Styled – Matty Bovan @babbym; Creative Consultant – Katie Grand @kegrand; Film Director – Lucy Martin @lucylara; Model sculptures and set design – Matty Bovan Studio; Jewellery – Plum Bovan for Matty Bovan @begoniapeterson; Shoes – Gina for Matty Bovan featuring pairs from previous seasons customised for SS2021 @ginashoesofficial; Denim – ISKO™ @iskodenim; Foam Sheets – GB Foam Ltd @gbfoam; ‘Dragon’ and ‘Pan’ Illustrations – Will Sheldon @willsheldon; Custom Weaving – Kirsty McDougall @kirstymcdougallwoventextiles; assistants – Gregory Harper and Beth Claxton

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