Not even a storm could keep showgoers away from the capital’s vibrant schedule.
London Fashion Week was a whirlwind this season, almost literally.
The autumn 20 shows fell slap bang in the middle of Storm Dennis. Heavy rain and gusty winds ravaged the UK but didn’t even come close to dampening spirits at the five-day event.
Stephanie Phair, chairman of the British Fashion Council (BFC), kicked things off on 14 February by telling the crowd assembled at 180 Strand that in “volatile times, creativity flourishes.”
This was in reference to challenges that presented themselves to designers showing this season – not least the weather, but the impact uncertainty caused by Brexit has had on the fashion industry and the ongoing threat of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
Caroline Rush, the BFC’s chief executive, continued that “our thoughts are with everyone in China,” and it was a topic that was on the front of fashion’s collective minds. Chinese outerwear label Bosideng paid an emotional tribute to its home country during its Sunday morning show, providing the audience with miniature Chinese flags. Head designer Zhun Lin lead a troupe of models holding the flags high down the runway during the show’s finale.
London is known for its experimental spirit. An exciting new name was added to the schedule this season. Vienna-based Petar Petrov is an established designer but chose the capital for his first-ever catwalk show because of its reputation for being “open to seeing new things and creativity.”
A neutral colour palette and sleek silhouettes formed his catwalk debut on Saturday morning abd provided an elegant anthesis to a first day full of emerging labels, including Fashion East graduates Ashley Williams’ rebellious, colourful show and Charlotte Knowles’ edgy offering.
There was even more newness to be seen, as two brands that were previously womenswear only chose to quietly unveil menswear. Molly Goddard sent male models clad in checked suits, patterned cardigans and Peter Pan-collared coats down the catwalk alongside her signature, hyper-feminine dramatic dresses.
Richard Quinn launched menswear during his much-anticipated show. Described as “a new welcome to entrance-making gentlemen,” Quinn’s take included heavily embellished suits, exaggeratedly flared trousers and a satin rugby style shirt.
His show may have run its now customary 45 minutes late, but the spectacular was well worth the wait. Culminating in a confetti cannon that exploded over the audience’s heads, Quinn’s opulent collection demonstrated why he continues to be one of London’s most exciting names.
These new menswear collections launched just a month after London Fashion Week Men’s in January. If these ranges eventually grow to the extent that they need their own catwalk shows, it could pad out the somewhat depleted menswear schedule.
While it is still listed as London Fashion Week, the event is really only full four days, and only three on-schedule shows – including Mark Fast and Daks – showed on Tuesday 18 February.
Big-name labels including Burberry, Roksanda, Erdem and Simone Rocha were undoubtedly the draws, but major buyers were still seen at emerging shows such as Fashion East at Brick Lane’s Truman Brewery on Saturday afternoon. London still has the balance of the new creative spirit it is known for, alongside its well-known anchors.