Welcome to our London fashion week edit for the AW18 & RTW on schedule shows. This season the sun shone on a city that pushed boundaries in design and social commentary, women were celebrated along with diversity and Richard Quinn had an unexpected guest.
It was a season of social and political messages and fond farewells in London this February. In a time travelling riot of rainbow-striped colour, Christopher Bailey celebrated diversity in his final collection for Burberry. In the wake of the #Metoo campaign, the winds of change flowed through the industry, a new standard. London's designers championed diversity, empowerment and the environment. On the anniversary of our right to vote, we celebrated women of all backgrounds, ethnicity ages and body types on the catwalk. Fur protesters screamed from the entrance on the Strand and stormed Mary Katrantzou's show. We were held to account on many levels and celebrated on others. This was the season for the Queen's first ever appearance at London Fashion Week. She was there to present Richard Quinn with a new award for young fashion talent. In her speech, she praised the city, “From the tweed of the Hebrides to Nottingham Lace and of course Carnaby Street, our fashion industry has been renowned for outstanding craftsmanship for many years, and continues to produce world-class textiles and cutting-edge, practical designs”. Her presence at the fetish-accented show spoke volumes about the liberal-minded, diverse and culturally rich foundations that make London's style incomparable. Special thanks to our friend photographer Paul Fuller for his stunning shots.
This season Fyodor Golan launched us upwards as their AW18 show aimed for the sky. With references to 'billowing air balloons, woven ropes and the motion of flight and jump. And the icing at the top? A collaboration with MTV, a nostalgic look back, reinvented and set to propel the brand further into the collective consciousness and the hearts of style-lovers everywhere.
Those on the front rows enjoyed MTV endorsed doughnuts iced in rainbow brights while models whooshed past inflatable metallic spheres as if propelled along an interplanetary runway. The designers played on the juxtaposition between reminiscence and futurism. Artisanal crafts reworked with tech-fabrics in silks, PU, tracksuits, velvet denim, satin and jersey. A signature rainbow palette inspired by the works of Jean Baldessari saw colour blocks through fabrics in rainbows brights of red, lavender, orange, cobalt blue and ivory often hidden and revealed through movement. Notable pieces were the rainbow-striped parachute skirt that billowed down the runway. Tops like reworked parachute silks were gathered and reconstructed. Contour-lined dresses floated airily followed by contrasting tracksuits split to reveal obscured silks and faux-fur in flashes of colour.
The team's collaboration with MTV points to the brand's nostalgia for the music TV of their teens. The logo is reworked onto modern fabrics effortlessly translating into a contemporary ready to wear collection. Traditional techniques and emblems are given new aesthetics both respected yet reinvented. Is the collection inspired by the desire to rework past values into the fabric of the future? The designers say it's a 'comment on the positive attitudes needed to handle the cynical social and environmental surroundings of modern day'. Whatever their message for this season's collection we have one word. Stratospheric.
MM6 MAISON MARGIELA
The MM6 Margiela presentation saw a Mayfair pub transformed from a traditional watering hole into the 'silver era' of Warhol's factory circa '62. Foil moulded across every surface as if liquid mercury poured over the space; every armchair, fixture and fitting enveloped in a futuristic skin. Even the bar sparkled and the pink cocktails popped against the metallic backdrop.
The Margiela Superstars stood on their pedestals, towering above the spectators of the luminous show, styled by Robbie Spencer. The wardrobe in singular silver referenced the Margiela archive. Modish masculinity tempered by tinsel trim and glittering chainmail sequins and motifs rendered from old photographs. Spray-painted shearling, 5-pocket denim and ribbed jumpers explored texture, where darkness lay beneath every ribbed groove. Puffas and parkers encased the models like quilted armour. An arcadian uniform for uncertain times perhaps? The exploration of the Factory's community ethos echoed this sentiment. Margiela recreated Andy's insta-pictures from a world before digital. Polaroid cameras swathed in foil captured the models' facsimiles. Transparent pockets contained their images, fragments in time personal to them, transferable, giving each garment a different personality with every new set of prints or body shape.
Margiela was referencing the past to look forward, and as we peered back at ourselves from the mirrors and the disco balls, our minds were as reflective as the surfaces. We considered our past and our future in the midst of uncertainty; let's hope it's as bright as this collection, though conceptual in its presentation the pieces are no less accessible. But it is ultimately rebellious and distinctive, just like Andy.
In the year of the woman and the anniversary of the right to vote, Bora Aksu celebrated Margaret Ann Bulkley who dared to stand against prevailing Georgian beliefs, disguising herself as a man to provide medical care for the lower classes. The AW18 collection encapsulates this blurring of gender roles and societal expectations through contrasts in structured tailoring against softly layered gowns. Feminine hues of lilac and blue layered and folded like delicate origami in silk tulles and pleated organza. Silhouettes though subtle are bold in their layers and volume demonstrating that romance can exist outside of the fragile. Rich cashmere wools and velvets with pinstripes of white and red against navy convey the projected masculinity of the muse. The collection is a celebration of the many facets of womanhood and the female wardrobe. The beauty and the strength, unrestricted and versatile. Coco said, 'a girl should be two things: classy and fabulous' and the Bora Aksu woman will be that and so much more in this beautiful collection.
Teatum Jones celebrated women from different social backgrounds, ages and ethnicities and linked them through the three universal emotions of joy, sadness and hope. This season the designers took inspiration from 25 unique women who collectively embody the Teatum Jones spirit. Role/Catwalk models included Munroe Bergdorf, Kelly Knox, singer Foxes, editor Sophia Neophitou and activist Caryn Franklin. Each woman was asked to recall memories conveying the three emotions portrayed through a film as the backdrop to the catwalk show.
Colour, pattern and fabrics combined to symbolise the emotions. Vibrant pinks and intense reds evoked joy. Cropped merino roll necks in jubilant hues and signature cutout detailing were paired with vivid red organza skirts. Apposing textures with a prevailing mood. Graphical florals embellished flowing blue satins in intense royal and midnight blues and ivory, beautifully layered under chunky knits to embody sadness. Finally, hope, illustrated in white, ivory and cream accented with mustards and deep reds. Beautifully tailored suits with full silhouettes paired with oversized fluid sleeves and white organza in strong geometrics softened by delicate frills. The fluidity of the materials, a metaphor for freedom of expression as seen on screen. Exquisitely executed with clever details, this was a show as strong as its muses. Twenty five unique inspirational women connected by three emotions and a collection for a multitude to enjoy.
Technology played a significant part in the AW18 Faustine Steinmetz show. A YouTube film provided the vision. The wardrobes of elderly Bulgarian ladies depicted in the movie injected a new look into Parisienne IT-girl chic. Traditional techniques learned by digital means afforded the designer her weaving skills, YouTube again. Denim was distressed and silks creased and frayed coupled with mohair in a palette of mint choc chip. Trenches and Baguettes, the stalwarts of the 90's Parisian wardrobe took on new aesthetics. A common thread, old and new techniques and technology combined, wardrobe staples reworked and reimagined. From the playful crystal-embellished scarf top to the logo-emblazoned mohair, this was a show like no other this season. Once again Steinmetz demonstrated the Parisian cool girl's determination to do her own thing and do it well.