London Fashion Week In Review
The exuberant antidote to a nihilistic New York Fashion Week, London was bursting with an upbeat energy thanks in part to a wave of exciting new talents. From shimmering sequins to avant-garde florals it can be easy to get distracted among all the excitement, so to help we've put together a quick recap of everything you need to know from five days of inspiring shows.
Backstage at the Mulberry Fashion Show Ready to Wear Collection Fall Winter 2017 in London (by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION)
A SENSE OF OPTIMISM OPENED THE LONDON SHOWS
There was something comforting, and surprising, and ultimately inspiring, about London's Day One rainbow coalition of designers - Fyodor Golan, Eudon Choi, Haizhen Wang, Roberta Einer, Marta Jakubowski, PPQ - and the way they chose to meet the season head-on with hope and optimism, instead of anxiety and fear.
THE CITY IS STILL SYNONYMOUS WITH CREATIVITY AND NEW TALENT
After a lacklustre New York Fashion Week (to say the least), all eyes turned, of course, to London Fashion Week, which has become the default home of the new creative crop of talent, from Central Saint Martins to Fashion East. It boasts a history, and a rummage through its archives is what sows that seed and spurs on a new generation of designers each and every season. Press and buyers alike wait eagerly for a new shiny star to throw their weight behind. There isn’t always one, it should be noted, but there are plenty of designers out there willing to give it a go and fill the coveted spot.
ALL CHANGE: THERE'S A HOST OF NEW NAMES SHAKING UP THE SCENE
Such is the eclectic nature of London's schedule that newer names come sandwiched next to the likes of Julien Macdonald and Jasper Conran; two men who were each amongst the enfants terribles of their respective eras, and who continue to hold sway over a loyal and enthusiastic audience.
THE BIG NAMES STILL PUT ON A STRONG SHOW
At some point overnight, between London's second and third day of shows, things change. The blow dries get sleeker, the fleets of courtesy cars get longer, the clusters of assistants multiply, and the venues themselves suddenly expand from intimate showcases to arena-scale spectaculars. Sunday's schedule was largely given over to a line-up of labels such as Versace, Anya Hindmarch and Topshop Unique, who've all achieved remarkable international success in their own right - and who are, increasingly, manoeuvring their way to the top of the city's rankings.
BUT LET'S PUT THIS ALL INTO CONTEXT
To speak of fashion in tumultuous times is often not without guilt. Seeing protestors spilling onto the streets resisting despotic regimes with such urgency in recent months can make mulling over next season’s pantone shade pale in comparison. But perhaps by correlation, the industry has had its fair share of chaos. The reshuffling of power structures seems to have solidified LFW’s new found role.
WHAT WERE THE KEY TAKEAWAYS?
Some tapped into certain inspiration points more than others, while elsewhere it was more a case of rekindling the love for a certain item that our wardrobes might have just forgotten about in the wake of casualwear and sportswear’s lofty ascent. Here, four key themes that have taken hold of LFW: fuzzy flourish, beads and sparkle, the world’s state of affairs and sexy-kitsch.
IT WASN'T ALL AVANT-GARDE AND NEWCOMERS
Huishan Zhang has cornered the market in dreamy dresses. Which is actually something of a surprise to see in London, home of the loud and the bold and the student crazy. Not him. He does romance, he does elegance and he does delicate femininity. Huishan Zhang is all about sophistication: pearl-laden gowns, the flickering of feathers, a huge fuzzy coat in lilac and pink; trails of ribbon that lead you back to dresses that could have come straight from Little House on The Prairie; and pleated pretty skirts.
BETWEEN THE NEW NAMES AND THE BIG GUNS THERE WAS A HOST OF BRILLIANT TALENT
What London now lacks in the bigger and more established names, it makes up for in those on the ascent. Here, five great shows that made an impact for all the right reasons: Simone Rocha, Toga, David Koma, Mary Katrantzou and Christopher Kane...
EVEN VICTORIA BECKHAM PUT IN AN APPEARANCE
“There I am walking across the road,” Victoria Beckham points to the London vista that paints itself out across a silver-grey dress. She’s in town – London, appropriately - to talk through her Victoria Victoria Beckham line, which although it started out as a semi-younger-sister line to her eponymous label shown in New York, has, she says very much developed into its own category.
LOVE LETTERS FROM LONDON
When you think of the things that define British style, your mind defaults to words like eccentric, punk, eclectic, anarchic and witty. But when you think about the designers who define London's fashion week right now, the keywords would probably be quite different. The generation of names who sprung up in the Noughties - Christopher Kane, Mary Katrantzou, Jonathan Saunders, Giles Deacon, Roksanda Ilincic - have evolved a language based around reinterpreting old-school womanliness. Or, to put it more concisely, they make very pretty dresses.
AS ALWAYS, DONATELLA VERSACE KNEW HOW TO PUT ON A GOOD SHOW
While using music as conduit is not exactly revolutionary, Donatella Versace's desire to connect with the younger generation is palpable. As a mother of two, she has become a bit of a maternal figure for past designers who have taken the helm at Versus and now for these bright young things who have a golden opportunity to be a small part of the Versace’s legacy.
ALL TOO MUCH TO TAKE IN?
So many shows and presentations to keep up with across five days of London Fashion Week can make it easy to blink and miss something. Too busy Snapping? Or Insta-mentioning or storytelling? (No one Tweets anymore). Exactly. Among the moments you might have missed, we pick some out here such as Emilia Wickstead's jeans, J JS Lee 's traditional tailoring design details and schedule favourite Marques’ Almeida.
SO, NOW WHAT HAPPENS?
The challenge at London Fashion Week is survival. Emilio de la Morena, Toogood and Dilara Findikoglu, in dramatically different ways, have proven their skill at grabbing the limelight. Come next season, though, where will they be? Beyond the hype, the world is looking bleak for young designers. And even the established ones are battling to endure. Hopefully, they’ll all still be in contention next season; London’s schedule would be a considerably duller place without them.