What’s the fashionable response to complicated times? In London, it’s pure – almost defiant – joy.
The world may feel like it’s in political freefall, but London Fashion Week’s dynamic, inventive and exuberant shows were the antidote to that sinking feeling we’ve been getting whenever the news comes on.
Here are 10 wonderfully unexpected things that made the week a total hoot.
Try and top that front row, Milan and Paris
The Queen – the actual Queen – sat front and centre at Richard Quinn’s explosively floral show, before she awarded him with the first ever Queen Elizabeth II award for British design.
The collection’s head scarves and pretty Liberty-style prints seemed straight up Her Majesty’s street.
It was the first time the Queen has attended the shows, the frisson of excitement was palpable and social media spiralled.
Her Majesty was sat next to Ms Anna Wintour (who didn’t remove her sunglasses for the occasion, I mean, why start now?) Friendly sidewards chatter and giggles were noted. We loved Quinn’s scarf-faced models and matching motorcycle helmets.
Michael Halpern brilliantly coined the phrase ‘inappropriate glamour’ to describe his mash-up of day and evening dressing, and proceeded to make a convincing case for throwing dazzling sequins on blazers and trousers 24-7.
Erdem tacked delightful ‘showgirl’ details onto everyday basics, like the marabou trim on a grandad cardigan (the collection was inspired by Adele Astaire, the young American dancer who married into British aristocracy).
JW Anderson’s show was full of high-low notes too; handkerchief-hem skirts and paisley blouses styled with Converse sneakers and oversized puffa-jackets.
Emilia Wickstead and Roland Mouret had collections crammed with precision-cut tailoring and slinky skirts – fashioned out of jumbo corduroy.
Taste the rainbow
Jubilant colour was a mainstay on almost every one of London’s catwalks – perhaps most spectacularly at Christopher Bailey’s final show for Burberry, where Cara Delevingne swept out in a technicolour LGBT-striped dreamcoat.
Ashish also sang a rainbow with his fuzzy-textured dresses and coats, while Roksanda debuted a series of swirling satin pieces in ice-cream shades.
The strapless dresses and mermaid gowns at Delpozo shimmered in every kind of pink and lemon-yellow, but we’re crushing the most on the zany bright faux furs and heart-print separates at Shrimps.
Simone Rocha and Preen have a modern, edgy approach to pretty that feels especially poignant this season.
Rocha’s collection was hyper-girly and yet full of muscle, with exaggerated silhouettes, a layer of gold netting over suiting and some extreme bow action, while Preen offered a more dishevelled kind of gorgeous, with floaty dresses grounded by utilitarian looks.
Lots of designers have responded to the #MeToo movement with modest, floaty or covered-up collections.
But not Christopher Kane. Dresses splashed with vintage Joy of Sex illustrations, clingy, bondage-inspired outfits and his suggestively-slashed trousers made for an unapologetically sexy show.
Meanwhile Ashish walked a bedazzled sweatshirt that read MASTURBATE down the catwalk. LOVE.
Home sweet home
Mary Katrantzou took a detour from her signature graphic patterns and dipped into interior decoration, with outfits layered like an ornate room.
There were lampshade skirts, slivers of tapestry prints and dresses wallpapered with William Morris-inspired florals, but the most buzzed-about pieces were her cropped bomber jackets, an ingenious riff on Chesterfield sofas.
Street style essentials
It’s not just the catwalk giving us big ideas; we’ve been inspired by the platoons of stylish show-goers (and by ‘inspired’, we mean ‘shamelessly copying from top to toe’).
The biggest street style star was the trenchcoat – extra fashion points for the shiny, checked version from Burberry.
But we also loved like the way our favourite style-setters at LFW slotted athleisure into their polished looks, from hoodies under wool coats to trainers with everything – both the sleek and understated variety and the chunky, ugly kind.
We’re digging the movement towards a slouchier silhouette.
Our favourite editors and stylists dashed to the FROW in nonchalantly rumpled trouser suits, swampy (in a good way) wide-leg trousers and oversize blazers. Comfortable and chic… where do we sign up?
The decade of excess surfaced in some of London’s most outrageous collections, from Molly Goddard’s puffball dresses and stripey tights (but models drank red wine and smoked vape) to Ashley Williams’ rara-skirts, cycling shorts and neon sweaters (plus mullets and day-glo make-up) to the extravagant shoulders on Gareth Pugh’s pin-stripe power suits.
More subtle 80s spins came from JW Anderson’s and Ports 1961’s judicious use of paisley, along with playful heritage tartans, plaids and checks – vibrant-hued plaid suiting at House of Holland and ironically checked visors and bags Burberry.
The quirky and idiosyncratic shoes, bags and belts we saw on the London catwalks defy any kind of ‘accessory trend round-up’ – but here are some of the best bits.
JW Anderson’s soft-green iteration of his signature ‘Disc Bag’ is worth saving up for, but then there are his appealingly glossy vinyl Converse sneakers… And we loved the dinky bags fringed to epic proportions at Roksanda, along with the ridiculously fluffy green sandals at Preen.
Waist-cinching is a thing. Choose from House of Holland’s mountain-climbing bungee belts, fuzzy pink bum bags at Ashley Williams or the giant camellia belts at Delpozo.
The only accessory principle that achieved designer consensus? That hair is meant to be adorned.
You couldn’t miss the giant red hair bows at Simone Rocha, hair-partings decorated with crystals at Markus Lupfer, golden clips at Ashish Gupta or the covetable sparkly hair clips at Ashley Williams.
A bit of bonkers
Edwin Mohney’s debut catwalk show for Central St Martin’s MA program was a reminder of London’s radical fashion spirit.
Go ahead and laugh at his blow-up swimming pool dress, and the shoes made out of plastic Donald Trump masks – we’re pretty sure that’s what he intended.
Words Torri Mundell
Pictures Vogue Runway