The thrills (and frills) came thick and fast on the AW16 catwalks in London
Renowned for fostering young talent such as Sadie Williams and Rejina Pyo as well as being home to heritage brands a la Burberry and Paul Smith, London Fashion Week always offers a gamut of ideas. The big news for AW16 was the one-off return of the city’s original rebel Alexander McQueen. And coming as it does after NYFW, it’s here that the season’s trends start to formulate. For next autumn you can start your shopping list now with oversized coats, decadent capes, velvet tailoring, granny gowns and anything that’s deeply encrusted in sequins. Here are some of the standout collections of LFW.
Batty bag ladies and aristocratic recluses were the muses for Christopher Kane as he explored ideas of ‘lost and found’. The first looks, corrugated leather coats and totes resembling disassembled cardboard boxes replete with staples, set the scene, as did Stephen Jones’ plastic bag headscarves. Draped silk dresses covered in a decaying rose prints joined ribbon and lace looks that became increasingly ramshackle with the addition of haphazardly placed feathers, jewels and crochet flowers. Chunky knits and clean tailoring in black, wine, camel and grey are all guaranteed to be best sellers.
Lulu Kennedy’s talent incubator didn’t disappoint with its latest triumvirate of emerging designers. Richard Malone went to work with optic stripes on bellbottoms, boxy jackets and utility trousers. Sporty yellow tops and racer stripes revved up the volume. Caitlin Price spliced tracksuits with cocktail dresses - for the club kid with a varied social calendar. Cropped puffas, maxi skirt additions and satin bodices in black, white and baby pink all gave a princess spin to athleisure. Amy Robertson used to work for Marc Jacobs and had the honour of Katie Grand style this, her first show. Sexy asymmetric pieces in traditional fabrics were covered in floral gems.
Sugar and spice and all things nice. That’s what women are made of at Roksanda for AW16. A departure from her much-loved graphic geometrics, Ilincic felt for a soft yet darkly sensual offering full of swishy skirts, bell sleeved bow blouses, frilly lurex knits, statement capes and pyjama tailoring. A colour palette of plum, caramel, candy pink, teal and ginger and tactile fabrics including velvet, suede, cat print silk and paisley brocade added to the lustrous attitude. Eveningwear ranged from Tudor nighties in ribboned chiffon to full blown pleated gowns. Models’ hands were kept busy cuddling Roksanda’s debut bag collection.
This regal collection, rich in sparkling tweeds, crystal buttons, golden embroideries and bows, oozed with just the kind of romantic Victoriana Simone Rocha does best. This season she was reflecting on having just become a mother, which accounts for many looks being swaddled in layers of lace, tulle and netting. Bubble dresses, drop sleeved overcoats, primly collared dresses and chunky knitwear in pink, red, black and lilac all enveloped the female form in comforting yet unravelling layers that referenced both the parlour maid and lady of the manor.
One would need a terribly cold heart to not fall for Molly Goddard’s flouncy confections. The Central Saint Martins graduate excels at handcrafted smocking and crochet and dreams of winsome tea party frocks. This time around her adorable line-up of street cast models all looked pretty as a picture in their tiered velvet tunics, silky petticoats and ruched tulle dresses covered in ruffles and ribbons. Diaphanous wraps, scrunched tights, voluminous underskirts and a palette of pink, mint and rust added to the playful energy. Musical chairs, anyone?
Jonathan Anderson shared a quote from Modernist interior designer David Hicks with his AW16 audience: “The excitement of today is the freedom of the individual to make his own choice and the vast range of possibilities from which he may choose.” This translated onto the catwalk in both the overarching 1960s futurist mood and in the sheer variety of ideas going into each look. From hoop-hemmed shirtdresses to ra-ra skirts, from leather chainmail jackets to kimono coats, from multiple zipper trousers to parachute pants, and from rose embroidery to shamrock motifs – this was a collection that took us to infinity and beyond in fetching feathered heels.
Photography Jamie Stoker
Touch me. Feel me. Hold me. This is what Faustine Steinmetz’s clothes demand. The young French designer’s hand loomed pieces possess textures that must be stroked. With her focus on recycled denim and sustainable cotton and mohair, AW16 continued her exploration of ethical, tactile fabrications. Fuzzy jeans, cropped flares and long coats with wavy ribs complimented smooth knits, simple tunics and sculptural metallic hanky tops featuring chunky ropes and large eyelets. Unashamed shades of blue, white yellow and orange were worn head to fleecy toe.
The princess of print may be all grown up these days but this collection, entitled Love’s Young Dream, had Katrantzou thinking of childhood fancy dress. Namely cowboys with a dollop of fairy on top. Horses, hearts, stars and butterflies covered American diner-appropriate pencil skirts, blouses and leather jackets as well as gauzy cocktail dresses and smart coats. Add to that a heap of polka dots, animal prints and flames, whether printed, embroidered or appliquéd, plus shawls and headscarves, and this colourful line-up could fulfil any fantasy.
Topshop Unique know how to tick every must-have on your shopping list each season, especially when it comes to those Brit style fail-safes. For AW16 the high street giant name checked Shakespeare in its woodland scene print shifts reminiscent of A Winter’s Tale, nodded to every indie kid’s experience of raiding army surplus stores with mannish khaki overcoats and referenced swinging London with Chelsea Boots. Black leather mini skirts and velvet blazers? Yes please. Slinky chiffon or lace dresses that expose a daring amount of flesh? U-huh. Wide houndstooth trousers and leopard print jackets? Where do I sign?
Erdem Moralioglu looked to the inter-war years to inspire his precious dresses this season, specifically the era’s love of Hollywood glamour and surrealism as a reaction to real world struggles. His looks began relatively modestly – governess gowns with high necks and long hems - but became increasingly glamorous as would befit a silver screen siren. Think Vivien Leigh, Gertrude Lawrence and Bette Davis all rolled into one. The joy of the collection, as always with Erdem, came in the exquisite fabrics and detailing – gold fringing, panne velvet, fil coupé, glistening sequins, patchwork lace, metallic crochet and flirty hemlines turned shifts, bias cut gowns and suits into sartorial works of art.
International Fashion Showcase
The British Council’s fifth annual edition of the International Fashion Showcase featured over 80 designers from 24 emerging markets around the globe. The overarching theme ‘Fashion Utopias’ was interpreted in unique ways across a series of installations at Somerset House that together expressed a cross-cultural future. Egypt presented Contemporary Rebirth, an earthy tableau featuring winged jewellery by Reem Jano and sculpted bags by Sabry Marouf. Selly Raby Kane and Lukhanyo Mdingi represented for Senegal and South Africa respectively. And Stranger’s Yegwa Ukpo curated Nigeria’s Across The Bleed exhibit, which harnessed optical illusion goggles and film to prompt visitors to interact with pieces by Maxivive, P.O.C, Gozel Green, Meena, Onalaja, Sisiano and Ejiro Amos Tafiri.