Fall/Winter 2020 is the first London Fashion Week of the new decade. It’s also the first one the city is staging post-Brexit. Hence, the most obvious question on many minds was where is British fashion headed next? Alas, the spectre of that tumultuous breakup from their European counterparts did not seem to have dented the spirit of designers here – well at least on the surface – as the +44 banks on what they do best which is experimentation and independent thinking.
JW Anderson led the charge of British fashion with his deft and playful ideas. His show, which saw a stellar turnout that included Charli XCX, Eve, Billy Porter and Alexa Chung, delivered a new proposition of fun glamour which he called “nouveau chic”. That meant gigantic coats with even more gigantic collars, cocktail-worthy draped dresses that took after the print of beer cans and metallic fringe dresses, and modern-day take on Flapper-era fashion with the cellophane-like streamers on sleeves and necklines.
Speaking of the ’20s, Erdem Moralioglu, the Canada-born designer who has called London home ever since his days as a student at the Royal College of Art, partnered with London institution the National Portrait Gallery. The museum’s upcoming blockbuster exhibition Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things (March 12 March-June 7) which will revolve around the glittering bohemians that Beaton photographed served as the premise of the Erdem show. Cue the pearl-festooned dress, the silvery fancy pieces and feathers. It was safe but romantic, something that might just resonate with customers in these discretionary and uncertain times.
American designer Michael Halpern, another London transplant who is reportedly applying for his residency visa in the United Kingdom, paid homage to the glamorous British women from the ’70s in his vibrant and uplifting collection that was anchored by voluminous beautiful gem-set colours and dazzling Swarovski crystals. That trope is all on-brand for the designer who is known for his brand of evening-appropriate designs. But Halpern’s works also reminded us of the kind of independent but couture-leaning labels that London possesses – something that continental Europe ought to recognise.
And no British designer does couture-inflicted designs better than Richard Quinn. The Central Saint Martins alum who has built a reputation for his haute silhouettes flexed that muscle for a show that can only be described as one big coming out party (complete with confetti raining from the ceiling). There was the nod to the Pearly Kings and Queens (Quinn called them the heroes of “middle-class couture” in his show notes), a nod to the S&M fans with the subversive. latex suits and spiked face masks, and a wedding dress finale to rival any couture show.
The biggest surprise of Quinn’s show, however, was the menswear debut collection he slotted in the lineup. The pieces were gender-bending like a corseted tank top and flamboyant like the marabou-feathered baby blue top and polka-dotted flare pants. Menswear was also something that Molly Goddard flirted with for Fall. The brand, a household name for its explosion of tulle, out-of-the-box proportions and childlike eclecticism debuted slim-cut suits and preppy Fair-Isle cardigans for a slice of bookish charm. So you see, in London, everything is possible.
All photos taken on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip