Over five hectic days, London’s designers ranged far and wide in their quest to stay ahead of the game. From new takes on red carpet dressing to inventive material explorations, and from supersized arcade games toexperiments in seasonless “slow” fashion, the schedule was nothing if not engagingly diverse. Here are NOWFASHION’s picks for the top 10 moments.
The first McQueen womenswear show held in London in 15 years was always going to be one of the week’s defining moments. Staged at night, in a venue where the late designer unleashed one of his earliest spectacles, Sarah Burton sent out a collection inspired by dreams. That translated into gossamer-light gilded Belle Époque gowns, coats stamped with surrealist motifs and lavishly embroidered quilted wraps.
Building on the success of the label’s presentations over the past few seasons, Hindmarch’s spectacular staging — a giant, arcade game-style checkerboard, whose pieces slid around the runway to a Giorgio Moroder soundtrack — hosted a lineup of luxurious outerwear and covetable bags, which came embellished with pixellated rainbow-coloured grids or stamped with giant Pac Man heads.
You can never dampen Ashish’s spirits even when the times are looking down. The king of sequins went full-force disco with afros of every colour of the rainbow. Probably the London designer who makes most effort to represent diversity in his casting, Ashish’s collection read as another poignant step in that direction. The high-octane unapologetic celebration of Black beauty comes as a timely gesture given the recent conversations around Black Pride that heightened after Beyonce’s controversial performance at the Super Bowl.
There were many reasons to laud Fashion East this season, chief among which is Marc Jacobs’ presence in the front row. It was great to see the designer, who was bobbing his head to the music and nodding at practically every look that made it down the catwalk, lending his support on this side of the pond. Designers Mimi Wade, Richard Malone, Caitlin Price and AV Robertson are the next generation of British emerging talents that would hopefully walk in Jacob's footsteps someday.
Steinmetz’s witty peep-show-style presentation at the Tate Britain gallery reiterated just why she’s earned her “One To Watch” label. Focusing on single blasts of flat colour, the designer’s Winter 2016 collection revelled in its sculptural play on surfaces and shapes, with sustainable cotton woven into spectacular three-dimensional textures, and clashed with soft mohair and slick metallic foils.
The dramatic setting and late-evening staging underscored Pugh’s reputation as London’s reigning master of macabre drama. Triggered by the notion of power dressing in the modern world, the designer’s collection featured Blade Runner-inspired replicants prowling the runway in razor-sharp tailored trouser suits, nostalgic Forties hairdos, provocative face-masks and finely sculpted film-noir sheath dresses.
Reinventing cocktail dressing is not something you would expect from JW Anderson but London’s original enfant terrible is full of surprises. Anderson’s manipulation of silhouettes felt even more concerted this season, challenging the typical hourglass shape that we have come to accept as the de facto ideal for cocktail dressing. The designer took to interior spaces as his starting point for materialising his cocktail gear. Anderson referenced interior designer David Hicks with a quote placed on the seats, signalling the designer’s homage to the unwavering pursuit of individuality.
The newcomer at London Fashion Week proved that she’s one to remember with a striking presentation at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA). Jakubowski’s Super Hero collection puts her in the esteemed company of brands like Vetements and Gosha Rubchinskiy, especially through her deconstructed and anti-fashion aesthetic. The punchy red, white and black colour palette was markedly political. Codes of 80’s subculture, namely the pinstripes and overlength coats, resonated with the wider Post-Soviet trend sweeping through fashion at the moment. The Royal College of Art alumnus enlisted an A-list team with set designer Gary Card, art director David James and stylist Tati Cotliar to realise Jakubowski’s alternative universe.
Mary Katrantzou transported the audience back to a time of child-like wonder, perhaps in search of an innocence lost. Central Saint Martins’ showspace became a silver foil wonderland designed by production maestro Alexandre de Betak. Wrapped floor rustled as the well-heeled celebrities and editors that Katrantzou typically commands took their seats. The show saw the marriage of contrasts: masculine-feminine, cowboys and princesses. Katrantzou went as far as engendering fabrics in the spirit of play. It felt spontaneous as hellfire flames with angels’ wings met butterflies and all things pretty. Hints of Russian proletariat dressing came through in the reference to Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. With 80's classics playing in the background, one couldn't help but wonder if this was an exploration into the designer's own childhood. Personal and endearing, Katrantzou's show continued to push boundaries of print.
One of the capital’s most recent success stories, Rocha continued to play to her strengths for Winter 2016, with a collection that was steeped in her trademark brand of subverted romance. Soft, loosely-structured tweed outerwear, oversized knits and gorgeously embellished sheers combined evocative Fifties prettiness with deconstructed grunge drama in a compelling ode to modern femininity.