The September 2022 edition of London Fashion Week was once again a pared-back version of its usual self, though this time not owing to the ravages and restrictions of a global health crisis but the desires of the participants themselves to pay appropriate respect following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Burberry, whose return to the LFW schedule was probably the most highly anticipated show of all, took the early decision to cancel completely. Parties and socials were also all cut from the official line-up, but organisers chose to continue with the business aspect of the proceedings. The prevailing mood of the capital was echoed by its fashion industry – life was allowed to continue, but it was not the time for frivolity.
Each show which did take place featured some sort of tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, from a simple minutes’ silence to start proceedings to Richard Quinn – whose 2018 show saw the Queen herself sitting in the front row – sending out 22 looks in black, made entirely by hand in the days after her death.
Due respect was paid by all involved with London Fashion Week, but life must, and did, go on. Here are a few of my favourites to look forward to in SS23…
Daniel W. Fletcher
The Daniel W. Fletcher show featured a host of tailoring looks, but all with a very modern edge.
Continuing the drive towards more spacious, comfortable shapes which suit today’s attitudes to dress codes, the suits and coats on show displayed big, powerful lapels and strong shoulder profiles.
Bold check patterns were presented alongside classic, discrete all-black ensembles, with every look having a relaxed, slouchy feel to it.
Faux fur accents added to the flamboyance – the entirety of this London Fashion Week was presented completely free of fur and exotic skins – but overall this was a collection more understated than extravagant.
The oversized looks of 1990s tailoring – think Richard Gere’s Armani suits – have been enjoying a resurgence of late – this collection is an excellent example of how contemporary designers are adapting that aesthetic to offer the comfort of extra space in a refined and elegant way.
Where DWF may be understated, Simone Rocha most definitely is not. The Irish designer has become known over the years for her use of frills and pearls and ruffles and veils, and her most recent show delivered more of the same.
The announcement that she would debut a menswear selection in this collection came fairly close to the date of the show itself, adding an extra level of anticipation for what was to come.
What arrived did not disappoint: plenty of the flamboyance and embellishments Rocha is known for, and menswear which continues the challenge to traditional ideas of masculinity.
Sombre black jackets and trousers with floaty, puffy frills; chunky black combat boots adorned with pretty little bows; a huge camo-coloured trench coat decorated with flowers and styled over gentle red gingham – this was a collection for the very modern man, reminding us that there are many more ways for him to express himself through fashion than have been allowed by recent convention.
Shanghai-based Rue Agthonis took over the magnificent ballroom at The Corinthia Hotel for what was another step-up in scale for this emerging label.
Previous seasons have seen the label go from strength to strength with stylishly tailored collections that can be worn again and again – that pattern continues into SS23.
Tailored jackets and shorts in powder blue will easily transition from hot summer day to warm summer evening, and a liberal use of gold sequins made for plenty of looks for parties by the pool long into the night.
Where some LFW collections may be intended to start conversations and show fashion as an art form, these are clothes definitely made to be worn every day.
Fashion Week exists in part to allow new designers a platform to showcase, grabbing some of the attention the global fashion press centres on London for those few days. This is a brand certainly worthy of that attention, and doing well to grab it.
The ERDEM SS23 collection was inspired by the work of restoration experts at London’s museums, including the National Gallery, the Tate, the V&A and The British Museum.
The latter provided an imposing backdrop for an extravagant collection, with models weaving through the exterior walkway, framed by the enormous pillars of the building’s façade.
The stark grey of the stone was the ideal contrast for the electric yellows and vibrant floral embroidery of the dresses; the billowing movement of tiered skirts seemed all the more dramatic against the solidity of the surroundings.
This was a collection full of summer warmth and life – although some looks were presented under veils to mark the solemnity of the week, there is still a sense of joy radiating from the clothes.