Vauxhall Fashion Scout's Ones to Watch show will be my first stop at London Fashion Week and out of the line-up, Myrza de Muynck is already the one that's getting my heart a-fluttering. Does the heart flutter over clothes? It does when faced with Muynck's charm, which came in mega doses when I visited her studio. Four interns quietly sewing away something vaguely old (Dusty Springfield perhaps?) on the radio and the room awash with dainty pastel embroidery and beading. Then you delve into the pieces in tandem with Myrza's drawings and the fluttering begins. Perhaps this won't affect anyone who doesn't have a strange love/hate relationship with the shell suit. Hey we've all worn one. My sister and I have been subjected to some truly hideous matching shell suits (she wore pink, I wore blue) together with our parents who also wore shell suits (mum wore white, dad wore navy) and out on holiday we would go because of course, you can only get the most our of your surroundings if you have a shell suit on. I perversely liked the uniformity though. I enjoyed "dressing up" for sports/leisure activities whilst not partaking in any err‚Ä¶ actual sports or leisure. The shell suit does however come loaded with a lot of naff baggage, too numerous to even list out here because I'm sure everyone will have their own set of iconic negative imagery, associated with this 80s relic.
Well, Myrza has set about overturning those connotations. From her MA collection at Central Saint Martins through to her S/S 12 collection and now to the one she's working on for Vauxhall Fashion Scout, the idea of contrasting sportswear influenced shapes and pretty-pretty embellishment has been a solid foundation. With a collaged-in-muse in mind (a young Jodie Foster pops up from time to time), she starts off with impressionistic drawings that then develops into beading or embroidery sampling. Myrza purposely strings together beads and stitches with a naivete which sounds obnoxious but is utterly charming when you see the work upclose. It's not wonky for wonky's sake. The finishing of the garments themselves is immaculate but then the hand dying and embellishments takes a slightly more rough-hewed course that works in Myrza's favour.
After all a shell suit can't be spruced up to the point where it becomes entirely unrecognisable or TOO luxurious for its own good. Therefore, the slightly awkward undertones that permeate Myrza's drawings and handiwork gives her clothes a tangible reality. You can tell I desperately want to scuzz about Holloway Road wearing a head to toe Myrza look. It's hard not to fall into cliched romanticisation of 'urban grittiness' and I suppose Myrza's shell suits are a manifestation of that.
I got to see some of the preliminary sketches and embroidery experimentations for the new collection which is more or less a continuation of the sort of shapes and colours that Myrza has been exploring previously with a few added textures of towelling, crochet and drawn on illustrations to go with the beading and embroidery.
I don't normally go into detail posting past collections but the nature of Myrza's drawings along with her reference imagery and then the pieces themselves make it impossible not to go into picture overload. Here are both her S/S 12 and her MA collection which are again, a continuous run of silhouettes where delicate handcrafted prettiness meets comfort and practicality.
I was trying to put my finger on what was so special about the styling of Emma Watson on the cover for Elle UK in the November issue last year and along with unexpected appearance of Tsumori Chisato, Myrza's trackie top here also featured on the cover – a brave choice when that prime clothing credit could have gone to a shot-to-death advertiser.