Fashion fans flocked to London Fashion Week to celebrate new labels emerging in London’s fashion scene.
The 10-day event kicked off with Irish designer Richard Malone presenting his collection of hand-woven aprons in recycled viscose, colourful headscarves and artisanal jewellery.
Fellow designer Matty Bovan’s line consisted of outfits in houndstooth checks, left ragged to give the prim-and-proper fabric a distinctively post-apocalyptic feel, while the use of fake furs resembled roadkill found on a remote country lane. Accessories were created from left-over pearls, plastic luggage tags and clay faces made by Bovan’s mother. The giant balloons wrapped in tulle that closed the show were created by acclaimed milliner Stephen Jones and stood as a symbol for “carrying the weight of the world on your head, in a light way,” according to Bovan. Both Malone and Bovan drew the inspiration from their hometown.
London-based Chinese designer Xu Zhi drew inspiration from Jane Morris, renowned muse of the pre-Raphaelite art movement and created hand-painted, PU leather outerwear, dresses and skirts in warm orange, dark-green and navy blue.
Next was Paris-born Faustine Steinmetz, whose show reflected on clothing status symbols carried by the Parisian bourgeoisie, like Fendi Baguette bags and Burberry trench coats. Steinmetz deconstructed and reinterpreted the originals to create something new from the familiar. The results were Levis’ 501 jean shorts in mohair, white cable-knit trousers and Swarovski-crystal embellished equestrian tops.
Eudon Choi partnered with milliner Noel Stewart, jewellery label Alighieri and bag brand Decke for a collection based on the Cornish harbour town of St Ives. The town is famous for being home to an art collective post World War I and II, with Christopher Wood, Alfred Wallis and Barbara Hepworth among those that settled there. References to the narrative ran throughout the collection: freshwater pearls, colourful waterproof fisherman’s hats and raincoats in PVC and patent leather. These accessories traditionally served to protect the townsfolk wearing them from outside dangers.
In light of the #MeToo movement, Turkish designer Dilara Findikoglu based her narrative on female empowerment. Escorted by a female power-trio comprising of stylist Ellie Grace Cumming, hair stylist Cyndia Harvey and makeup artist Isamaya Ffrench, Findikoglu created her own remote utopia in her ‘Dilaratopia Manifesto’. As the show notes read, “escaping a world of Trumps and Weinsteins, here our lives belong to us, and us only”. It was a statement against powerful men misusing their authority, a clever move from the designer who for years has been ruminating on what it means to be a woman.
The spectacular event ended with a surprise appearance from Queen Elizabeth II, marking her first ever visit to the annual fashion show. The monarch sat in the front row between Vogue editor Anna Wintour and chief executive of the British Fashion Council, Caroline Rush. The Queen attended the NewGen designer’s show where Richard Quinn’s collection made its debut runway. Quinn caught wind of the Queen’s attendance a few days before the show and paid tribute to the royal, adding floral headwear to the show, and silk headscarves that ran throughout the collection.
Quinn, who founded his label in 2016, impressed showgoers with his couture-inspired collection, from foil gowns with matching thigh-high boots, to snakeskin textured mini dresses paired with motorcycle helmets and textile-clashing floral dresses.
“It was absolutely overwhelming, and we are so proud of Richard, he has worked so hard,” said Quinn’s mother, Eileen post-show. Following the finale, the royal presented Quinn with the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for British design, an annual prize for an emerging British fashion designer who shows exceptional talent and originality while demonstrating value to the community and strong sustainable policies.
“It’s been a creative and inspiring week,” reflected Natalie Kingham, fashion and buying director at MatchesFashion in an interview with BOF. “There’s buzz around some of the London designers like Matty Bovan and Richard Quinn who are creative with a great energy.”
Overall, London’s up-and-coming designers delivered dazzling shows, impressing the public with their style, storytelling and talent. Keep an eye on this season and beyond in London.
What would you peg the best and worst looks this season at London Fashion Week? Comment below!