London Fashion Week Shows and Events Review Part 1
Updated: Feb 20, 2019
One door closes, another opens. As per usual, there is not much time to catch a breath if you want to stay on track with the latest collections showcased by the designers in the major fashion capitals. Just as New York Fashion Week came to an end, London Fashion Week officially started earlier this week and what a ride it’s been so far !
The showcase will go on until February 19 bringing overall over 100 catwalk shows, presentations and events to a demanding eye of a fashion public. It has just been a few days since the kick start on Valentine’s Day (perfect time to start proceeding for all those, whose love to fashion is unconditional), but there is already plenty to evaluate on!
Known for showcasing emerging designers, LFW celebrates the up and coming and the established brands. Staples of Great British heritage such as Burberry are always a highlight, but avid fashion followers look forward to this industry event to see what’s new on the scene.
London’s New Establishment of designers including Simone Rocha, Mary Katrantzou, Phoebe English appeared to be a big draw, so did the emerging cool kids Ashley Williams and Matty Bovan. The first days of the showcase also included a number of new additions on-schedule including 16Arlington and Asai.
While some designers brought activism and eccentricity to the catwalk, others praised wearable clothing and timelessness of sophistication. There were collections where accessories and DIY craftiness really stood out, there were those taking sustainable practices to a new other level…
Apart from the catwalk action, which is already proving to be one of the most dynamic yet, we guide you through the biggest events, notable showcases and introduce you to the hottest newcomers that stole the show in London over the first few days !
LONDON NEW ESTABLISHMENT MUST-SEE
House of Holland
This season Henry Holland presented a clash of bright oranges and pinks, through bow-knotted puffer scarves and pussy bow blouses, while also offering more low-key wearable pieces in khakis and greys, seen on plaid jackets tied at the waist, smock dresses and sweatshirts. A strong safari influence was threaded throughout.
It was the accessories which really stood out in the autumn/winter 2019 collection, though. Cow-print berets and hiking boots, aggressively spiked handbags and architectural earrings worn in single ears, spoke to fashion followers’ adoration of accoutrements.
“We wanted to create a bit of a cityscape,” Holland told Vogue of the backdrop. “The show is about a global explorer, and something that I see everywhere I go in the world is the fly-poster.”
The denim boilersuits, berets, and neon and lime checks were standout, and it was these stronger offerings that pointed to the political call to arms operating within Holland’s itinerant muse: “She’s a really tough, really hard and empowered woman,” he said.
This season was undoubtedly one for the ages for Simone Rocha.
We knew for long time now that she is a master of the princess gown but her AW collection took the fact to the next level, thanks to frothy layers of tulle, sparkling sequin bodices and actual tiaras. There was a lot of pink : pale, rose-infused, champagne satins with flashes of dusky blush.
Using ideas of intimacy, privacy, security and femininity as her inspiration, Rocha delivered a beautiful show that played with underwear as outerwear, dazzling embellishment and embroidery. Tailoring and dresses were manipulated into phallic shapes in a show that embodied Rocha's signature subversive femininity.
Louise Bourgeois was a key influence - her fabric works were reinterpreted onto taffeta and via embroidery, while handbags took the same shape as the artist's sculptures.
The show also raised the bar in terms of diversity with models of varying ages, race and shapes. Famous faces featured too, with models Lily Cole and Chloë Sevigny causing some major head turns as they glided down the catwalk in Rocha's breathtaking designs.
As gently spoken as she is, English is as integrity-driven and thorough as they come among the rising young designers concerned about the damage the fashion industry causes. “I wanted to fill this collection with lots of different solutions to the way the industry can be quite wasteful,” she said. “I’ve been trying to choose raw materials that are mindful of the environment.”
The results of her self-revolution are embedded in this collection. She sourced buttons made from milk protein, rather than plastic or animal products. She now asks her factories to return the offcuts of the fabric she supplies them; they’ve been recombined into patchworked jackets, apron dresses, and a collaged collarless man’s shirt here. The shoes she found meet her standards because they are made by Tricker’s, the great British cobblers, “with dyes [that] come from the waste products of olive farming.”
The collection overall is a continuation of the modern handcrafted techniques English began as a student at Central Saint Martins, but even it has been developed through her commitment to zero-waste practices. “They’re geometric pieces, you see. Because when you’re cutting out curves in fabric, there’s so much left over that it becomes a problem.” That’s why she also constructed pleated trousers and some of the gathered-neck blouses and full skirts using the full widths of fabric. “So there’s nothing wasted.”
AW19 marked Katrantzou’s most playful collection yet. There were feathers, sequins and head-to-toe ruffles, all in a kaleidoscopic range of shades, with almost every colour on the wheel represented.
Mary Katrantzou worked with the themes of elemental natural forces for her Fall collection. The most apparent thing about her collections these days is how much Katrantzou has become a demi-couturier. Her show, with its rainbow color palette and exuberant use of ruffles and ostrich feathers seemed to place her somewhere in line, with the social history of British couture and the London dressmakers of the ’70s and ’80s.
Models, including Natalia Vodianova, walked wearing cascades of colourful ruffles and ostrich feathers. Fire and marble prints worked onto organza dresses, trousers and coats, and rainbow shades graduated from one to another. If anyone can pull of the latter without looking grotesquely cartoonish, it’s the 36-year-old Russian supermodel, whose catwalk appearances are far and few between these days, making Katrantzou’s casting choice all the more exciting. Extravagant and attention-grabbing, Katrantzou's latest work will be catnip for fashion collectors who appreciate the joy in conceptualism and fashion as art.
Meanwhile, tailoring took a slouchy turn at Ports 1961, with wide-leg trousers and roomy blazers setting the agenda for comfortable casual wear. Ports 1961 has always had a smart yet playful sensibility. After seasons of trainers and sportswear, a new take on smart dressing is dominating. For stylish, independent women looking to fill the void that Phoebe Philo left behind, Ports’ latest collection offered wardrobe solutions with real world elegance from morning until night.
Ports creative director Nataša Čagalj delivered a pared-back workwear-appropriate collection for AW 19, featuring cashmere knits, checked dresses and beautifully tailored suits. Classic grey, camel, black and white, offset with pops of satsuma, carmine and eggshell appeeared to be the dominant colours. The brand's signature white shirts were deconstructed for the new season, some with high necks, others with the collars cut off. According to the show notes, it was all about pulling apart and putting back together, which could be seen not just in the shirts, but the trenches, blazers and skirts.
Ports’ sophistication will never loose its swaggar.
THE EMERGING, THE OUTSIDERS, THE COOL
New guard of emerging designers is just getting started.
Hailed by Vivienne Westwood as a new punk, Matty Bovan showcased a collection inspired by medieval witchcraft, exploring the idea of modern magic and celebrating craft and detail and ritual.
Starting out life as a knitwear focussed brand, Bovan has blurred the edges of what knitwear can mean. A dress that was never meant to be a dress, a suit made out of suit bag – Bovan makes knitwear, and the other fabrics he uses both desirable, and diverse in their uses.
Bovan’s AW 19 collection full of clashing patterns and prints. A collaboration with Coach saw their signature CC print find its way onto knee-high boots, steam-punky top hats and a giant bow atop the head (hats off to Stephen Jones, once again). Colours were earthen, with flashes of red and spots of yellow. Floral prints spoke of nature, and black-heavy looks — especially the Edwardian mourning dress — invoked mythicised images of witches.
Archive Liberty print featured on pussy-bowed blouses, dresses and coats. The style takeaways were both bold, clashing prints — try florals, with picnic blanket tartan — and unusual silhouettes: out at the shoulder, in at the waist, out at the hip, and further out at the knee. Essentially Bovan’s proposition was about following your own instincts, your own folklore, building looks crammed full of patterns, textures, feelings, accessories.
Michael Halpern has always said that his heavily sequinned collections are a form of escapism from an increasingly dark and murky world. Although his latest offering was toned down, he made the same point for AW19. Decadence and ballroom glamour were pervasive… Halpern might be less sparkly, but the party is far from over.
Now that exaggerated glamour is an actual movement, Halpern took license to push it to a new level, leading his audience to the Deco ballroom of a Park Lane hotel, and immersing them in an extravagance of Erté-inspired drama.
The collection featured hooded opera coats, richly beaded floor-length halters with crystal chokers, lamé tissue Deco prints cut on the bias, a gold and black embroidered ’20s pajama suit. Yes, there was no neglect of sequins either—but this time he’d converted his glam suit into a new silver two-piece of an off-the-shoulder waterfall top with matching trousers, and added a series of simpler short dresses, the best being a rose pink dégradé sleeveless trapeze with an asymmetrically sliced skirt.
Ashley’s ability to be witty and conjure instant demand always sets her apart. Watching her shows is always a joy. The AW 19 collection ‘Power Nap’ was anorther of what makes Williams so much fun.
What we witnessed on the catwalk was a girl who has been living her best life in the monolithic countryside. “She dined at King Arthur's round table, paid pilgrimage to the summer solstice, marvelled at Mercury in retrograde and spotted the Loch Ness Monster whilst skinny dipping,” as the show notes go – and now she needs to sleep off all the excitement.
Trademark tiger print, tie-dye, and electric hues all featured, as did power blazers, tracksuits, and puffed-sleeved dresses. The other pieces worth mention? The pink and black knitted cat twin-set, Kermit-green fluffy shoes and bags, and boob tube reading ‘Don’t Know, Don’t Care.’ Like the cult pieces she’s created before, expect to see Williams’ irreverent collection on the fashion set's Insta soon.
Hunkering down in cosy pieces like mohair cardigans and relaxed tracksuits reading ‘Whoops!’, and fleeced smiley face jackets, the collection was a mix of comfortable winter clothing and Williams’ signature aesthetics.
Molly Goddard may have become known to fashion public for her ethereal tulle dresses, but there’s an earthy soul in her designs. “Dressed for the storm,” was how the designer described the look of her new collection. Models marched out with balaclavas wrapped around their heads and all-terrain knee-high boots on their feet. What’s more, each one of her gorgeous party looks was layered over a pair of no-nonsense gray trousers.
There were wind machines installed along the runway and the full-skirted smocked dresses in neon green and pink silk were blown up in the air, creating a scene which was inspired inspired by Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy’s ill-fated 19th-century British heroine.
With eiderdown-like clutch bags and padded military-green ball gowns, the collection had a sense of practicality and protection. Goddard elaborated on this mood backstage after the show, expressing her desire to create clothes that might offer stability in uncertain times.
With her new collection Goddard seemed to be challenging the notion that style-conscious women might have to chose between the levity of the tulle frocks and the strong shoulders of the pin-striped suiting and without a doubt sshe made it clear the two are hardly mutually exclusive.
FIRST COME FIRST SERVE
This season includes a number of new additions and recenty graduated talents on schedule.
The first morning of London Fashion Week welcomed newcomer Asai to present his first ever on-schedule collection. In a relatively short space of time, A Sai Ta, designer behind the brand, has gained a cult following of global fashionistas.
While his earlier collections tended towards statement pieces, a preview of his AW19 titled “Ground Up” demonstrated Ta’s desire to create werable clothing. it was defined by earth tones and soft neutrals, double-breasted jackets, tailored trousers and peasant dresses in autumnal wools and heritage fabrics were overlaid with mud-evoking gold foil. There is a strong focus on cut, layering and proportion.
The textiles of the landed gentry—houndstooth, tattersall, and Prince of Wales check—formed the basis of the collection. Still, there was a disheveled edge to the clothes that felt modern and the hand-spun cobweb sweaters brought a pleasing freeform energy to the show. With models walking down the runway in cozy knit moccasins and jester hats, the overall mood was far from spiffy or uptight.
16Arlington, which is fast becoming a red-carpet favourite, presented an extremely Instagram-friendly and sparkly collection for AW 2019 at the brand's debut London Fashion Week show. The collection was inspired by German-American pop artist Richard Lindner.
Glittery dresses with cut-out detail were presented alongside feather-trimmed frocks and paired with matching hats. While there were more casual and urban designs too – including a half-and-half grey/brown leather jacket, chic tailoring and some fun collared shirts – it was the party-ready pieces that stole the show and that we cannot wait to see on the red carpet.
London Fashion Week is really the best, especially when it comes to spotting new talent. Fashion Scout’s Tolu Coker made his LFW debut earlier this week.
Centred around inclusivity, diversity and social responsibility, the collection featured sustainable materials like reworked denim and upcycled leather. Coker's label is unisex, catering to people of all genders.
"When I design I try and strip back social preconceptions and just look at and focus on the individual," she told Hunger TV. "I don't worry too much about gender conformity or trying to represent everyone in one collective vision. I struggle to see the relevance when we focus on fashion as a statement of one's identity, as opposed to a commercial commodity. Society loves to categorize things which cannot really be categorized. Identity is so unique to the individual, so we need to just focus on that."
The designer, who often takes inspiration from aesthetic signifiers of her Nigerian heritage, has won a number of prestigious fashion prizes, including Fashion Scout's Merit Award and three prizes at International Talent Support's event in Trieste, Italy.
All in for #SustaibableLFW
BFC x BBC x Mother of Pearl Present Positive Fashion
London Fashion Week with has always been about fast-pace newness and trends - a new day in London is a new challenge to surprise the public...
Amy Powney of Mother of Pearl is seeking to change that and collaborated with British Fashion Council and BBC on a series of talks about ethical and sustainable practices within the industry, a move which has been explored by designers more and more over the past past seasons.
The Positive Fashion initiative took form of a number of talks which were open to the public took place at the 180 Strand and explored the impact the industry of fashion has on the planet through a talks series and evening event with industry leaders. The event aimed to highlight the positive opportunities for sustainable fashion choices by businesses and mindful consumer behaviour.
In June, Mother of Pearl will release a capsule eveningwear collection of nine pieces exclusively with Net-A-Porter, designed in conjunction with BBC Earth, which builds on the success of its ground-breaking No Frills line of truly sustainable clothing.
“We’re using 100 per cent certified peace silk, working with Cocccon, a vertically integrated company that has managed to create a very simple supply chain, from certification to dye to print, all under one roof,” Amy Powney said in conversation with Vogue. “It’s going to be fancy – all those beautiful silk dresses you want to wear to summer parties in the sunshine.”
International Woolmark Prize 18 /19 Final
The winners of the prestigious Woolmark Prize final, which previously had Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent among the winners, were announced on 16 February. The competition recognises design talent that uses Australian Merino wool in beautiful and creative ways.
The 2019 grand final featured 12 designers from the UK, Sweden, the US, Australia, Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and China, including Nicholas Daley, Brandon Maxwell and I-Am-Chen. The designers highlighted the versatility of merino wool within their capsule collections to an impressive judging panel of judges including designer Alber Elbaz, InStyle editor in chief Laura Brown and actor Gwendoline Christie by Alber Elbaz.
Menswear designer Edward Crutchley and Womenswear designer Colovos were named the winners of this year’s grand final.
Nicole Colovos told WWD: “It’s been a great experience and taking part in this award and the accessibility and connections they’ve granted us have been wonderful in terms of mentors and the people we’ve met,”.
The winners are awarded 200,000 Australian dollars, while Crutchley, who is known for working with artisanal textiles, will be awarded an additional 100,000 Australian dollars for winning the Innovation Award. The winning collections will be sold globally at high-end department stores including Harvey Nichols, Lane Crawford, Hudson’s Bay and online at MyTheresa.com.
“I think for someone who is so focused on textiles, it’s really a validation for me that what I do is of value, and I think that’s something that we all look for in our work,” said Crutchley in his interview to WWD.
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