Although London Fashion Week was short in comparison with the New York spectacle, next year the tables could be turning. As NYFW will only last about four days, many designers are either returning to the British capital, or choosing this location to present their collections for the first time.
London Fashion Week has undergone an enormous transformation over the years. Not long ago, this was the event buyers and editors were most likely to skip when rushing from NYFW to the catwalks of Milan. Today, however, it’s become one of the most exciting and creative fashion events, thanks to the new generation of designers who are drawing not only media attention, but potentially profiting amid the political uncertainty of Brexit.
Many of the more established UK based designers (such as Burberry, or Gareth Pugh) who had been showing abroad have returned, along with seducing some established and up-and-coming designers to show in the British capital (Roland Mouret, Ports 1961 or Delpozo), contributing to the success of LFW.
Christopher Bailey, a design director turned CEO who helped transform Burberry into a global fashion brand, is leaving the label after 17 years to pursue other creative projects. He stepped down from his role as President in July 2017, after investor unease. It’s confirmed he will stay in his current role until 31st March, after which he will support the CEO and the team for a few months, before leaving the company at the end of the year. He took a final bow and bid farewell at the end of the Burberry show on 18th February. “Christopher gave an unquantifiable boost to the identity of British fashion, making London Fashion Week a must-stop for buyers and press after years of being overlooked,” said Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of American Vogue acknowledging Bailey’s work.
David Koma, Huishan Zhang Le Kilt, Marques Almeida, Molly Goddard and Regina Pyo are shortlisted for the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund, revealed by the British Fashion Council. The Fund, established in 2008, aims to support young talent, and accelerate their business growth. The winner, announced on 8th May, will walk away with €200,000, access to investors and (for the first time) receive support from one of China’s biggest online retailers, JD.com – and shortlisted designers are set to receive a full mentoring programme. Former winners of the Fund include Christopher Kane, Erdem, Mary Katrantzou, Nicholas Kirkwood, Peter Pilotto and Sophia Webster.
But, arguably London Fashion Week’s biggest highlight was the Queen making a personal appearance for Richard Quinn in the front row, before presenting him with the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design.
Geometric and architectural shapes, perfect cuts and high-quality craftsmanship outlined London’s contemporary designer’s scene, presented by Delpozo, Eudon Choi, Rejina Pyo, Ports 1961, and Palmer Harding. Asymmetry was a recurring theme on the tailoring-dominated catwalk shows, deconstructed or multi-sleeved shirts, spliced blazers and oversized features that lend a modern edge to the minimalist designs, resulting in exciting new shapes. The dominance of a primary colour palette was also seen across many designers’ offering.
Feminism and female sensibility played an important role on the catwalks of London; decadent florals, crystal beading, ruffles with structure and volume added a feminine touch to the new offerings, characterised by British quirkiness. Preen by Thornton Bregazzi were influenced by the Korean feminist Jeju divers who were the “Amazons of Asia”, Simone Rocha paired tailoring with voluminous ruffles, Erdem presented a historical romance taking place in the 20’s, whereas Christopher Kane brought back sex appeal. The collections were in no way short of clashing colours and prints, tartan and rainbow references.