L’Oréal Blackett attends the young fashion talent's first LFW show

WITH a name like Chanel, a career in fashion could be considered a self-fulfilling prophecy for young designer Chanel Joan Elkayam.

Chanel Joan has a classic soul

At just nineteen years old, undergoing her first year at prestigious Central Saint Martin design school, she was the youngest designer to feature at Paris Fashion Week last year before making her debut at New York Fashion Week as a model and a designer. It’s enough to make you reflect on your own spent teenage years…

“I hope to be dressing some of the world’s most powerful women one day and maybe sell some of my clothes in Paris, Harrods…” she shared humbly on the red carpet of her London Fashion Week debut – another notable notch on her gleaming fashion CV.

We suspect dressing the world’s elite is a relatively common dream for any young designer, but Chanel Joan’s current career trajectory shows she’s well on her way to making it a reality.

As this year’s London Fashion Week kicked off its Autumn/Winter shows (17-21 February) with the usual cohort of celebrity, industry influencers and fashion oddities, the Manchester-raised designer unveiled her latest collection in a Shoreditch exhibition space.

It was a packed out event filled with industry bigwigs and media types wearing designer sunglasses inside – very fashion – all pressed to see if Chanel Joan could be the next big thing. But amongst the fashion clatter came much talk about Chanel’s age – could she put on a worthy show? Is a teen really ready to enter the fashion spotlight?

The catwalk showed no signs of an undergraduate teen designer: in a word, it was accomplished.

A ballerina started proceedings, teetering en-pointe clutching a single red rose, rising and falling gracefully to a jarring melancholic soundtrack before a succession of models walked stoically into the blinding camera flashes. It was very old Hollywood glamour.

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Chanel Joan Elkayam Photo credit: Brian Simpson Photography

While it’s admittedly patronising to suggest, Chanel’s clothes aren’t for your ASOS young adult generation; Chanel Joan has a classic soul. Her collection, made up of floor length gowns, cocktail dresses, sophisticated two-pieces and streamlined silhouettes, veer away from the trend-led in favour of lasting, muted classic style.

In fact, it was wartime poet Vera Brittain and her heart-breaking love and loss that inspired Chanel’s Autumn Winter collection. Suitably, models walked down the runway clutching a single red rose, reminiscent of that given to Brittain by her fiancé on the last day they saw one another.

Omitting any bias for a Manchester talent done well, Chanel Joan shows immense promise as a womenswear designer. Amazingly, she appears to understand who she is as a designer at this early stage; sophisticated, chic Parisian sultriness.

While the fashion industry can be a fickle one (there are your fashion institutions but up and coming designers rarely infiltrate the business), Chanel Joan, determined as she is talented, seems hellbent on making it.

What’s Chanel Joan’s advice for young designer’s hoping to achieve similar exposure and kudos in the industry?

“You always have a fear in your head that you might fail. But I always say to people, just go for it.”

Find out more about Chanel Joan Elkayam's clothes on the website.

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