China A la Mode

Myrza de Muynck's GABBER GIRLS GO GLAM

Text by Naomi Bikis

Photography by Sohrab Golsorkhi

Styling by Izzy Sayer

Remember the shell suit? That shiny piece of sportswear that made its way from the football terraces to the streets, accessorised with a mullet or medallion, only to become redundant once the noughties arrived? Well, prepare for its return. Just when you thought it was one style moment forever relegated to the back of the wardrobe, one of London's exciting new talents is giving this relic a new lease of life.

Dutch designer Myrza de Muynck, a 2011 graduate of Central Saint Martins' fashion MA and recently elected as Vauxhall Fashion Scout's Ones To Watch for AW12, is championing its return. From her graduate collection through to her autumn/winter runway show, De Muynck has worked with sportswear shapes, transforming them with pastel shades and delicate embellishment. Contemporary materials such as polyester, nylon, towelling and poplin are interspersed with tulle and velvet or painted prints, before being painstakingly stitched with glass beads - below the trouser knees or as floral details across a jacket, providing a personal and crafty effect.

The fascination with sportswear, and the shell suit in particular, derives from her upbringing in the Netherlands, where the two-piece experienced "a certain high life during the '90s". But De Muynck has little interest in poring over images of tracksuits from the past. 1920s evening dresses and Jodie Foster films from the '70s form the unlikely basis for the collections. In her own words, she's developing a "poverty de luxe" aesthetic, knowingly creating chav-style couture. Or in Dutch parlance, gabber girls. So what should we expect from De Muynck next? "I want to start including looks for men," she says, "and, of course, there'll be more suits."

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