Everything you need to know from the second day of London Fashion Week, including catwalk debuts and London’s brightest stars,
JW Anderson’s odd appeal
One of the skills of designer Jonathan Anderson is that he somehow manages to turn the experimental, the directional, and the random into something that works commercially, is appealing and is in some odd way wearable.
For autumn 17 the designer covered a lot of ground, from exaggeratedly-dropped waist skirts plumed with panels of feathers, to mini trench coats cropped at the chest. There were fluffs of fur, lashings of chainmail, toga-like drapes and furry shearling.
Floral prints, stripes, shiny fabrics, metallics, nylon and stiff leather all featured across the range, chopped up, patchworked, panelled and draped in an array of unusual silhouettes. On the whole there was that odd JW Anderson appeal to it, but on the rail in stores that appeal will make total sense.
A sparkling debut by Halpern
Recent graduate Michael Halpern was the talk of the town on day two of London Fashion Week, debuting on the schedule for autumn 17. His extreme disco couture sparkled and shone, with shimmering sequins and all out, full-on party glamour dancing its way across the catwalk.
Almost everything came encrusted with a metallic sprinkling of sequins, from floor sweeping exaggerated flares and body con tops ready for any invite.
Henry Holland’s race-day cowgirl American dream
Souped-up Americana was the theme for the House of Holland autumn 17 collection, coming through in references to cowboys, 1950s-style car wash drive throughs and old school cartoons. While retro in spirit, there was nothing vintage about the collection, and shapes were distinctly modern, with slick slip dresses, structured ruffled gowns and boyish jackets all meaning the designs felt fresh and daring. Car wash vinyl fringing adorned midi pencil skirts, racer checks in baby pink appeared on jumpers, while supersized fur checkerboard stripes appeared on a fuzzy floor sweeping coat. Cowboy references came through in bold print cowboy hats and a heavy use of fringing, which appeared on everything from shirts to silk slip dresses, on which patchwork stars were edged with bouncing tassels giving an exuberance to the collection.
The palette was bold and bright, with pastels set alongside dark camo and patriotic reds and blues, with metallics playing a key role in the dramatic ruffled evening looks towards the end of the collection. Streetwear references appeared here again, but with typical Holland character, in supersized puffer jackets with cartoon patches or in lilac velvet jackets of duvet proportions. Highlights included a red satin suit, redolent of stunt man Evil Kinevil, with floating bell trousers and bright white fringing. The show was one brimming with the optimism and wry giddiness that Holland does so well, with a easy desirability emanating from the references to retro American iconography.
Gareth Pugh’s fury fuelled, high drama dystopia
High drama and high fashion went hand in hand at Pugh. Staged in a derelict underground warehouse, with ceilings towering above showgoers and mist hanging in the air, the space evoked a brutalist prison - a fitting backdrop for the collection itself. The tone of the show was incredibly dark - twisted, authoritarian and fierce, brimming with fear and rage. Black military shapes opened the show, with sharp sleek shapes. Tailoring was crisp, sleek and rigid, with exaggerated nipped waists and wide leg trousers creating a hyper-real outline, all black but with leathers and sheers mixed with tailoring to provide a varied tonality to the designs.
The aesthetic became more surrealist and theatrical as the show progressed, all the while brimming with a fierce anger and disconcerting sense of dark power. Heavy furs, billowing black capes and riot shield dresses made the collection a cinematic, theatrical and explosive display of fear, paranoia, cruelty and anger. As the sound system blared a mix of US president Donald Trump screaming “build the wall”, Madonna and Nirvana songs, and snippets from the musical Cabaret, the audience was left in no doubt that Pugh’s message was borne from political misgivings. With political turmoil rife in cultural consciousness, it should perhaps not be surprising that Pugh took such a starkly political and extreme theme for his show, but with such high drama and evidently impeccable craftsmanship, Pugh’s show was shocking for all the right reasons.
Faustine Steinmetz wonderful world of denim
Faustine Steinmetz has, in just nine collections, established herself as the doyenne of denim and for this collection she looked at the ways her favourite fabric has been worn, torn and manipulated over the past 30 years.
This of course included the Canadian tuxedo denim two piece, but also her special, crafty yet couture-like takes on classic worn denim, acid washed jeans, frayed denim pulled into striped like decorative patterns and even a mechanics denim overall - featuring a pocket for an iPhone rather than traditional tools of the trade.
There was also Faustine’s take on denim now, her dazzling approach via sparkling and shimmering jeans and jacket with surfaces heavily encrusted with Swarovski crystals.
The designer also added male models to her presentation this season, underscoring the unisex and universal nature of denim.
Signature Molly Goddard alongside something new
Molly Goddard said she wanted to throw a party for all ages of women this autumn, with her whimsical take on special occasion dressing expanding and evolving to a fuller wardrobe.
This covered her beautiful signature piles of princess tulle, gathered and ruched in delicate arrangements - ranging from an over the top full-length tiered style in electric blue, to designs with new delicate embroideries.
Goddard’s offering continues to expand, maturing with fresh takes on her dresses in everyday cotton, alongside items such as leather jackets with pleating details, sequinned knitwear and ruched Lycra trousers that all retained her sense of girly fun.
Ports 1961 makes its mark in London
Designer Natasa Cagalj staged a homecoming of sorts this season, bringing Ports 1961 womenswear to London – the city where she and her team studied at Central Saint Martin’s university, and where their design studio is based.
This came through most literally in the collection via oversized prints of familiar homely artefacts – glasses and vases pasted onto tops and panelling tailored shirts in an ad-hoc and pleasingly odd way.
Elsewhere, the familiar appeared again, but these everyday shirts and tailoring were sliced and diced by Cagalj. Shirts were cut up and reworked, with slashed sleeves, billowing backs and cut out panels, their silhouettes exploded or hemlines asymmetrically worked. Tailoring too was played with, like a blazer worn backwards, its arm pits cut into arm holes so the jacket arms were left empty and free, or another missing an arm, with panels dissected and slashed to reveal the body beneath.
Versus Versace brings its modern girl gang to London
Donatella Versace’s Versus line takes a more youthful, urban approach than the fully-fledged Versace line, and this collection thrived in the booming street trends and cultures fuelling its success. With a dominant sporty aesthetic and a super-casual styling, classics of leather jackets, tracksuits and casual separates were elevated with shimmering leathers, plush shearlings and clever detailing which characterises the elevated streetwear trend. Versus designs cleverly for its customer, and with the likes of Gigi and Bella Hadid, Taylor Hill and Adwoa Aboah modelling the collection, the clothes were shown off by the kind of women who wear them in real life.
Thigh grazing minis and midriff bearing crop tops were dominant, giving an unabashed boldness and attitude to the clothes, especially when paired with the oversized street shapes elsewhere in the collection. Alongside the more urban pieces were standout party dresses in shimmering leather, sheers and sequins, in longer lengths slit to the thigh or minis with high necks adorned with the Versus logo. As one of the London shows garnering the most hype, Versus’s collection will certainly have kept fans happy, and with its youthful appeal is sure to spawn countless high street imitations.
Chalayan’s theatrical tomboy minimalism
Staged in the dramatic surrounds of the Sadler’s Wells theatre, Chalayan’s autumn collection was both refined and simple, and held a fluid sense of drama in its sculptural outlines. The aesthetic was a tomboyish one, with slouchy mennish tailoring in cropped swinging trousers and heavy tailored fabrics. Swinging hip-length capes and puffed sleeved jackets provided a sense of volume to the collection, which gave minimal designs a dramatic impact.
The colours were muted tones of navy, black and grey, shot through with bright white shirting. Pattern came in the form of distressed checks and map-like scribbles in black and white, as well as delicate graphical drawings of hands and fingertips, splashed across dresses in giant proportions. Waists were synched by obi-style belts, contrasting with the more voluminous shapes. The dramatic venue was reflected in the end of the show, where models tore bibs of fabric from their chests to unleash a tumble of glittering streamers in pinks and silvers, a stark contrast to the restrained and minimal designs at the start of the show.
Mimi Wade’s hyper-girlishness
Mimi Wade’s designs hark back to old school glamour and Hollywood heroines, and this season that came through in an exaggerated girlish femininity. As her debut catwalk collection for Fashion East, the offering presented an almost cartoonish and playful take on dressing, with skin tight mini dresses adorned with quirky prints ranging from cat paws to 3D clouds. Hemlines were short and silhouettes skin tight, creating an unabashedly sexy and powerfully-female offering.
Deconstruction from Asai
Deconstructed fabrics and bold bright colours were key at Asai’s London Fashion Week debut, in mutedly autumnal tones accented with bright metallics. Shapes were elegant in their outlines, with flowing skirts and dresses giving a feminity to the designs, although these elegant shapes were then undone with shredded textures and tears to give an overall sense of bright, ragged elegance. Highlights included a bronze and black tie dye skirt, and an oversized white puffer jacket paired with ankle length tassels.
Matty Bovan’s undone sci-fi chic
Inspired by 1980s sci fi films like Blade Runner and Dune, Matty Bovan’s collection was futuristic and dishevelled, part grunge, part glitz, with torn yarns and draped knitwear paired with flashes of sequins, neons and metallics to give a sense of dystopian sci-fi paganism. Oversized knits with wide looping stitches and patchwork clashing prints gave a sense of the urban warrior. The key look of the collection was the final ensemble of a swirling sculptural shawl with heavy quilted trousers featuring bedazzling sequin patches across the knees.
Julien Macdonald brings the party, again
Ever the king of the party, Julien Macdonald’s autumn show brimmed with glitz, glamour and a brash sensuality. The palette was dominated by shimmering metallics in gold and silver, with glistening black sequinned dresses and fiery red gowns also making appearances. The majority of the styles were longer length this season. Macdonald continued his use of strategically-placed cut outs and body-skimming silhouettes to create a heightened sensuality and disrupting female aesthetic. Undone crochet formed a large part of the designs, but rather than creating a relaxed outline the fabric was synched tight around the body.
Although Macdonald’s designs always follow a similar party girl formula, with sequins galore and revealing shapes, this season saw a duality of almost fetish straps and chains, as well as some more diaphanous creations, with intricate embroidery and swirling chiffon adornments.