For his new book, Hywel Davies scoured the catwalks and studios to find the next Karl or Miuccia of British fashion design. Here he reveals his quartet of rising stars – and the future classics you should be investing in
Braganza's current patron is Karl Lagerfeld, who described the designer's work as "mind-blowing". Born in the UK, Braganza grew up in Canada, where he studied fine art. Moving back to London, he studied fashion at St Martins, before cutting his cloth with Robert Cary-Williams and Roland Mouret. He defined his dark signature aesthetic with his very first own-name collection, in Milan in 2003.
Braganza's design philosophy is based on an obsession with the human form, contrasting expertly cut patterns that extenuate the body with unexpected detailing that is compact and functional.
His current collection, "Chromacolyte", is inspired by the "shadows of [his] imagination". "I am attracted to dark imagery and find beauty in pathos and danger. My aesthetic involves a tough and sharp kind of beauty," he explains. "I'm repeatedly drawn to gothic, heavy and extreme imagery, but always with an undercurrent of romanticism."
A crisp and occasionally slouchy element with unexpected proportions and fine details, including oversized piping and open-ended panelling, creates beautiful and unique garments. Braganza uses double-layered wool for structure and crepe for drape; while shades of grey and ever-present black are intricately paned to encase the body.
Describing her design philosophy as "making real clothes that men actually want to wear by using a naïve approach to luxury dressing", the German Euler graduated from St Martins with an MA in Fashion in 2005.
While at college she gained experience working for Alexander McQueen, Alfred Dunhill, Jonathan Saunders, Raf Simons and Kim Jones, and when her spring/summer 2007 collection, "Without a Ride", debuted in September 2006 during London Fashion Week, her modern take on menswear was applauded by the industry.
Describing her customer as "boyish but sophisticated", Euler wants "to make normal garments as exciting as possible. The play between formal and casual dressing is a continuous source [of inspiration] and I don't necessarily need to be inspired by something visual – it could just be a certain way of thinking, such as, 'Which clothes would I buy if I was a 16-year-old boy who suddenly came into lots of money?'"
Euler adds that editing is key to her design process. "I'm not a fan of embellishment, so I have no problem chucking things out. I'm not happy until everything that can be taken away is gone." But deciding what needs to go can be a challenge: "If you get a small thing wrong, it can imbalance the whole collection."
For this winter, Euler has collaborated with ASOS to bring her vision to a wider market.
A recent event at Liberty in London proved how popular Nicoll's clothes are, as customers fought to try on silk dresses and drape-fronted tunics. Nicoll graduated with an MA from St Martins in 2002; his final-year collection was bought by Dolce & Gabbana and the British-born, Australia-raised designer has since worked alongside Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton. His signature style involves combining menswear fabrics with corsetry and couture detailing to create sculpted garments. "My favourite thing is to see people who wear my clothes doing their own thing with it by mixing it into their own style," explains Nicoll. "I'm really inspired by individuals rather than homogenised style."
Nicoll says he finds inspiration in music, fleeting emotions, unusual personalities, art and dance. "I try to be innovative by following my instinct and being myself," he says. "It's easy to compromise your true style according to what you know people want to see at that point in time – fashion is like a dialect: once you understand how it works, it's easy to take a short-cut to success, as you know what's coming next. But it's important to take the long road and create your own aesthetic, not follow the crowd."
This autumn, Nicoll has also designed a line of womenswear for shirt-maker Thomas Pink, confirming his position as an innovator.
Argentinian-born and Burnley-raised, Throup is not one to be boxed in. "There are some amazing things being done by fashion designers, but in general I find the generic limitations of the industry contradictory to the essence of creativity," he says – and Throup's current work is radically changing contemporary menswear.
He graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2006, and his collection "When Football Hooligans Become Hindu Gods" established his innovative approach to design, process and communication. His clothes always start with drawings of characters, which are converted into tiny sculptures that inform the patterns and shapes of the garment.
Instead of launching himself on the standard bi-annual cycle of collection design, Throup chose a different route by working on creative collaborations. Stone Island and CP Company were the reasons he decided to study fashion, so taking up an offer to work with them was instinctive.
The result is the Modular Anatomy jacket, a limited-edition interpretation of the traditional down-filled jacket, with stitch lines reinterpreted as structural seams. "My goal was to interpret Stone Island's principles through my own vision and to communicate its identity and values in a different way."
'100 New Fashion Designers', by Hywel Davies, is published by Laurence King at £24.95