The final shows of the autumn 17 season, from London Fashion Week’s official “One to Watch”, Richard Malone, to growing talent Marques Almeida.
Bold, dark empowerment from Marques Almeida
Marques Almeida AW17
With show notes brimming with bold statements on empowerment, feminism, beauty and strength, the Marques Almeida show pitched itself as a bold celebration of female identity and individuality. Bold colours, esoteric shapes, oversized shaping and a punky undertone demonstrated a typical Almeida brashness and vitality – distinctly feminine but also daring and dark. Ruffles featured heavily this season, in elegant, flamenco-style skirts and dresses, which were paired with co-ordinating jackets and coats. Outerwear was dominated by oversized styling: statement sleeves completely enveloped the hands on coats and blazers alike, and oversized collars and belts appeared on floor-sweeping great coats.
The classic Almeida biker jackets this season appeared in a deeply alluring burnished bronze, as well as a long-line black vinyl coat and a printed orange and blue jacket. The patterns took on a hyper-real digitised nature, as bold coloured marbling and oversized paint smudge polka-dots sat alongside Beetlejuice stripes and oversized checks. Shapes had an overall looseness, created by the oversized outlines and ruffle detailing, but were draped in such ways as to create a kind of nonchalant femininity – a sensibility that characterised the collection as a whole.
Dress your child for work day at J JS Lee
J.JS Lee AW17
Jackie “JS” Lee took inspiration from children dressing up in adult clothing for autumn 17. This informed much of this season’s playing with scale and size. As is her signature, Lee focused on the merging the masculine and the feminine: a mannish and tailored business-attire vibe ran throughout the range.
Tailored jackets were stretched out along the body into oversized coats with dropped shoulders, proportions elongated so double-breasted button placements fell as low as the crotch and even the knees in fuzzy mohair and melton wool, redolent of children wearing their parents’ roomy blazers and winter coats.
Sleeves and cuffs were another key feature. Knits and coats featured extra-long sleeves that trailed past models’ hands, while cuffs on crisp white shirts and jackets were exaggeratedly large – some even featured thumbholes that accentuated their scale.
Straps and belts were also a focus, coming in thick swathes that wrapped around the hips or chests of coats, or as a statement double waistbands on pencil skirts and tailored trousers.
Richard Malone’s trompe l’oeil workwear
Richard Malone AW17
Bold colour sat at the heart of Richard Malone’s autumn 17 presentation. Vibrant blues paired with white and vermillion orange in floral and diamond patterning designed to create an arresting trompe a l’oeil effect. The garments were crisply cut, and wide-legged trousers, fluted-hem dresses and voluminous coats and jackets took inspiration from functional workwear items such as aprons and tabards, but were refined with the addition of a fluted sleeve or puffed apron pocket to give a more sculptural outline.
Despite these delicate details and intricate, elegant patterns, the fabrics were heavy duty, which allowed for the creation of such structural pieces, but also was surprisingly movable and wearable – dancers decked out in looks from the collection performed with dizzying vitality, and Malone’s designs moved seamlessly and easily with their frenetic movements.
Circus chic meets romantic whimsy at Isa Arfen
Isa Arfen AW17
There was a playfully theatrical theme running through Isa Arfen’s autumn collection: harlequin checks, dandy ruffles and ballerina dresses all gave the presentation the feel of a chic circus. Designer Serafina Sama’s typical quirky playfulness came through in the designs, giving a youthfully feminine feel in sheer polka-dot dresses and ruffled mini-skirts, while bold harlequin patterns in shades of green and red provided a vivacious statement on a sweeping shimmering coat and floaty gown.
The circus aesthetic lent a vintage romance to the collection. Fur coats and sheer floral dresses added an old-fashioned glamour, made distinctly modern by the use of sheer textures and mini-shapes. Satins and ruffles also played a key role on several block-colour mini-dresses that showed a youthful, doll-like quality.
Highlights within the collection included a pair of royal blue dungarees, teamed with a ruffled blouse, as well as a cropped jacket and high-waist trousersuit, in dark velvet, subtly patterned with a miniature version of the harlequin print. Sweetly feminine, romantic and glamorous, with a theatrical insouciance and youth, this latest Isa Arfen collection was both charming and desirable.