Lea Dolan, CNN
While London Fashion Week has been no stranger to the influence of compelling external forces in recent years, including Brexit and the global Covid-19 pandemic, this season’s Spring-Summer 2023 shows once again They took place in an extraordinary context.
After the death of Queen Elizabeth II, much of the calendar fell apart, especially around her state funeral, which took place on September 19. Shows and events planned for that day have been postponed or cancelled. Burberry, a royal warrant holder and one of the biggest British labels on the calendar, was the first brand to announce that it would not be hosting its show (it later followed up with a rescheduled date). Celebrated Belgian designer Raf Simons, who will make his long-awaited London debut with his eponymous label, also released a statement confirming that his show will not go ahead as planned.
Speaking ahead of opening day, British Fashion Council chief executive Caroline Rush told CNN in a phone interview that she “absolutely” understands why brands change plans.
Still, the industry quickly joined many younger emerging brands and designers for whom disruption could be critical.
“London has always been known as the creative capital of the world. It is the place where we have more start-up and independent businesses than any other fashion capital,” said Rush. “I think the sense of community that comes through those designers was born in the last few years and we’ve seen it again now during this period of adversity after the Queen’s death.”
Harris Reed, introduced this week as the new creative director of French fashion house Nina Ricci, is a young designer who has succeeded against all odds. After graduating from Central Saint Martins during the height of the global pandemic, Reed at first relied heavily on social media to generate interest in his designs. This led to Harry Styles wearing one of his pieces (a suit jacket and hoop skirt suit) on the December 2020 cover of American Vogue, and Reed dressing supermodel Iman for the 2021 Met Gala. .
On September 12, he was one of the first designers to announce that his Spring-Summer 2023 show would continue, posting on Instagram about the importance of “being there for small brands in London this week”.
In the run-up to the event, Reed’s Instagram Stories showed snippets of late-night runway preparation, emphasizing the often unglamorous and exhausting reality of putting on a show. On Thursday night, inside a renovated 16th-century church in the City of London, Reed set the tone for London Fashion Week with a presentation that included a moving live performance by Adam Lambert and a collection brimming with elegance and sculptural art.
And even though the events coincided with a period of national mourning, there was much to celebrate. Simone Rocha presented her first menswear collection, while JW Anderson returned to the London schedule for the first time since 2020. Asian-American designer Chet Lo made his solo fashion week debut with a variety of pointed garments and accessories; Consecutive LVMH Prize winners Nensi Dojaka and SS Daley were also among those representing the best emerging talent.
Turkish-British designer Dilara Findikoglu went viral for her silent runway show on Saturday, which included a selection of Victorian-inspired vampire looks (some modeled by Amelia Gray, influencer and daughter of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” reality star), Lisa Rinna). And at Susan Fang, the models even walked on water, thanks to a floating walkway built on the surface of an indoor pool.
Read on for the highlights from London Fashion Week.
A week of tributes
Designers who chose to pay their respects on the passing of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch did so in a variety of ways. For smaller labels unable to alter the bulk of their physical collections, music (or lack thereof) often became a form of praise. Adam Lambert sang a version of “Who Wants to Live Forever?” of Queen. at Reed’s show, while Michael Halpern opted for silence during the opening look for his collection, a tribute to the late queen. That costume tribute was a billowing cerulean cape over a turquoise gown and headscarf, inspired by an outfit the Queen wore in 1957 while she attended the opera with former French President René Coty.
“We wanted to do something that felt really respectful,” Halpern told CNN in his studio before the show. “No music, no fancy lights, no nothing. Just a really beautiful, concise, modest walk with a girl on the runway at the beginning of the show.”
“She was wearing this really beautiful blue dress, and that’s the exact color of the (first look),” she added.
During the Dojaka show finale, each model carried a sprig of lily of the valley, reportedly one of Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite flowers and featured in her coronation bouquet in 1953. Christopher Kane, who returned to the show for the first time since before the pandemic, she created a gray sweatshirt and skirt look that nods to the latest official photograph of the former monarch, according to show notes.
Perhaps the most extensive tribute, however, came courtesy of Richard Quinn. His fashion career is inextricably linked to that of the monarch, who, after awarding him the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design in 2018, sat front row at his Autumn-Winter 2018 show. Quinn quickly established himself as one of the top talent in the country and, in honor of her royal supporter, this season she opened her show with a funeral procession of 22 all-black looks, including long crystal-embellished veils, jeweled crowns and a sweeping black gown. -Brim hat reminiscent of the queen’s style.
As the models walked, a melancholy video montage of the monarch as a child and a woman played on suspended screens: rotating footage of the queen laughing off-duty, at her wedding to Prince Philip, and, of course, footage of the Monday’s state funeral that was shown by . The entire collection was dedicated to Queen Elizabeth II, “who touched him among so many others with her grace and kindness,” according to the show’s notes.
the female gaze
Rocha, a renegade romantic whose subversive and often gothic take on femininity has earned her many accolades, including the prestigious British Womenswear Designer Award in 2016, made her menswear debut with a gender-inclusive collection this season. In the frescoed corridors of London’s Old Bailey criminal court, the Irish-British designer put a new spin on menswear, with tutus, lace-up ballerinas and bow-studded backpacks. Khaki trench coats were embellished with red and green crystals arranged in the shape of poppies, while thick belt chains (like those typical of late emo fashion) contrasted with delicate ruching.
Molly Goddard, another key player on the womenswear circuit, similarly extended her signature sparkling ruffles to the male population. Known for her diaphanous candy-colored tulle creations, Goddard first launched her menswear line in 2020 with a largely conservative collection of plaid suits and Fair Isle knit cardigans. On Saturday, she kicked it up a notch with t-shirts, shirts, and suit jackets adorned with her signature ruffles. She even went further into the men’s kilt movement with a pinstripe kilt.
Throughout the Spring-Summer 2023 program, the collections vibrated with feminine energy. Chinese designer Yuhan Wang found inspiration in female pilots, as she reinvented aviator uniforms and helmets with flowery prints and ethereal fabrics like silk organza. For Halpern, the enduring glamor of her mother, who continued to throw lavish house parties fit for a New York City socialite and dress accordingly, even after the family moved upstate, shaped to your spring-summer designs. Rejina Pyo performed this season on the 28th floor of a London skyscraper, wearing an array of office-appropriate tailoring, evening gowns and mules made for walking, all set against a spoken soundscape that exalts the beauty of working women.
Brazilian designer Karoline Vitto’s collection of cut-out minidresses and eccentric evening wear, organized by non-profit talent incubator Fashion East, was a love letter to “the most controversial and overlooked aspects of form.” female,” according to the show’s notes. . In partnership with casting agency AAMO, Vitto’s show exclusively featured curvaceous and plus-size models between UK sizes 10-20, hoping to set a precedent for the industry.
Buckles, straps and harnesses were inescapable this season. Poster Girl, creator of the It-Girl peek-a-boo party dress beloved by Kylie Jenner and Dua Lipa, sent a slew of eyes down the runway, often wearing three belts at once. Rocha recreated garters from oversized parachute straps that draped under dresses, while Yuhan Wang made body-strap backpacks complete with utility pouches in pink lace and chintz fabric.
Drawing inspiration from science and human anatomy for spring-summer 2023, Kane designed multi-strap corsets with clear plastic and small metal buckles. The “skeletal structures,” as Kane referred to them in his show notes, “emphasize the strength and importance of the abdominal area and outer muscles.”
Top Image: Harris Reed Spring-Summer 2023 at London Fashion Week.
The CNN Wire
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