London Fashion Week: How you’ll dress for the next decade

London Fashion Week: How you’ll dress for the next decade
Burberry’s Spring/Summer 2020 collection at London Fashion Week. Pictures: Getty Images

Paul McLauchlan has the lowdown from London Fashion Week. Here’s all you need to know about next season.

As the spring/summer 2020 collections concluded at London Fashion Week, designers presented women with an insight into how they should dress for the next decade which draws inevitably closer. In a few short months, the 2020s will be the new normal.

In London, the scene is fraught with political angst as the big bad Brexit wolf lurks in the corner, shadowing the shows with an unsettling wave of anxiety. 

The day before proceedings commenced, Parliament was suspended for five weeks. 

However, in anticipation of the event, and despite the uncertainty of the impact on business, designers carried on accordingly - creating clothes to fulfil the desires of women, direct them towards certain style cultures as they approach a new decade, all the while juggling the realities of today’s world. 

Trends to road-test in today’s world, society balancing on a tightrope.

British designers find their way 

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What becomes of Britishness when Brexit is officially triggered? What becomes of the openness, free movement of people? 

What becomes of British identity? And, hey, how the hell does it affect the rest of us?

No designer directly addressed Brexit, rather it was engrained in the framework of collections.

Margaret Howell’s take on Britishness is subtle, wry even. 

While her clothes, proper and uncomplicated, unfussy and straightforward (half-zips in soft wool, roomy trousers, preppy shorts, lifelong purchases waiting to happen), there’s always a statement about her country. 

This season, it was abstract expressionist prints by post-war textile designer Lucienne Day whose work is synonymous with the optimism of the early 1950s. 

A sense of hope made her crisp shirting, tapered trousers, and dashing coats all the more delectable.

At Burberry, where artistic director Ricardo Tisci has a year under his belt, continued his outsider’s celebration of the Britishisms with global appeal. 

The check, the trench coat. He harked back to the Victorian era, a time of immense change and progress, like today.

He updated the house codes with this in mind, reconstructing trench coats with silk panels, sculpted sleeves, and crystal-ring piercings; cinched blazers and box-pleat skirt suits; Step-through skirts, corset detailing and ruffled lace dresses with exaggerated puff sleeves. 

Moreover, parkas, hoodies and rugby shirts dominated the sportier, streetwear-leaning portions.

Laced with historicism, the 110-piece opus was entitled ‘Evolution.’ 

In keeping with the theme, Tisci managed to bring things forward to 2020, successfully elevating the house codes with a tinge of 70s nostalgia and modern panache. 

Most importantly, it did what British labels do best: it has a global appeal.

Glamour gets a new look 

Escapism from Molly Goddard at London Fashion Week.
Escapism from Molly Goddard at London Fashion Week.

Molly Goddard, whose tulle confections are now world-renowned thanks to Villanelle, the assassin from BBC’s Killing Eve, has breathed new life into London Fashion Week by invoking a sensible and dorky interpretation of dressing up. 

Her approach to dressing for 2020 is one to consider: the constant search for perfection often leaves its quester at a sore loss. 

These weren’t just clothes to party in but also plonk yourself on the couch. These weren’t rarefied plumes of tulle and bursts of taffeta. 

If anything, her smocked, ruched and ruffled creations have a street-wise slickness to them.

Go to Halpern for unfettered glamour. He’s also on to something about perfection: quit aspiring to the calculated red carpet expectations and hark back to the 1970s. 

While a patterned lamé gown or a shimmering, Swarovski embellished burgundy pantsuit might come across as alienating for most, ultimately, the purpose of fashion is to sell and these clothes exist proving fantasy can become a reality if you so wish. 

For €2,000, you too can channel Barbara Streisand in ‘Funny Girl.’ And if you turn to Christopher Kane, you can evoke the power of sex which is sure to elicit an amusing response. 

Having long been fascinated with the idea of sex—not the overt Helmut Newton displays of the sexualised female body, rather the intricate details, the biology, fetishism, and more, human nature has more than once served as a glamorous goldmine for Kane. 

For spring, it was back to nature with ‘Eco Sex’, ‘Ecosexual’, and Make Love with the Wind’ emblazoned on numbers in an amusing nod to the world around us. 

It brought a whole new (stylish) understanding of loving your planet, to say the least!

Arts and crafts 

JW Anderson pushed boundaries at London Fashion Week
JW Anderson pushed boundaries at London Fashion Week

In London, artful intentions underscored the five days.

At Simone Rocha, she recalled her Irish heritage to carry her narrative forward. 

Starting with the Wren Boys who hunted the wren on St Stephen’s Day, her painterly approach drew on peeling wallpaper prints from dilapidated Victorian houses printed on silk taffeta and fashioned hand-macramé aprons in hay and raffia worn as harness and dresses while organzas were embroidered with broderie anglaise daisies and mulberry berries.

Preen by Thornton Bregazzi duo Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi patchworked a vision for spring/summer loosely inspired by decades of Japanese fashion, underlying the undulating tiers of georgette, micro-pleats and feminine take on dandy style, were repurposed offcuts from previous collections and georgette made from plastic.

Meanwhile, at JW Anderson, Irish designer Jonathan Anderson conjured a sort space-nomad in the urbane character, continuing from previous collections with capes and trenches, tailoring which pushed boundaries, this time with protruding hips. 

A textural feat: fringe jackets looked marvellous when juxtaposed with crystal embellishments on ultra-feminine swishy gowns with sumptuous drapery and delightful tailoring.

Speaking backstage, he said, ‘I was looking at old magazine covers and the objects were more theatrical in a sense.’ For example, his infinity-shaped crystal bra were particularly intriguing.

Pragmatism with a twist 

Beckham’s highlyanticipated S/S collection.
Beckham’s highlyanticipated S/S collection.

A playful pragmatism permeated the first Ports 1961 fashion show from newly-appointed artistic directors Karl Templer and Fabien Baron, two of the most revered men working behind-the-scenes in the fashion industry. 

The brand is renowned for its propensity for pragmatic and playful combinations, something the design team leaned into for spring/summer 2020. 

Sharp tailoring seamlessly bled into silk slip dresses; pattern-blocked Chinoiseries danced with geometric prints on elongated silhouettes; minimalist shirting is subverted with voluminous proportions and borderline excessive styling.

Victoria Beckham’s work is admired by the legions of women who, like the designer, a working mother, need clothes that help get the job done but also fulfil a desire to look amazing while doing it. 

On this runway, there were signs of a designer growing: she shot some seventies tailoring into her veins with flared pantsuits in a palette which riffed on bad taste. 

Furthermore, she contrasted refinement with voluminous dresses.

Roland Mouret is in the same category as Beckham - melding form and function. He substituted form-fitting dresses with softer, laidback silhouettes. 

Roksanda’s artful elegance was on full display at the Serpentine Gallery where she showed trapeze shapes and relaxed readings of mannish tailoring. Easy does it.

Polish-born Marta Jakubowski took inspiration from heroines of contemporary and classic cinema include Marlene Dietrich and Lola from Run Lola Run, there was a smart polish with smatterings of softness. 

A highlight: a blazer blended into a draped Grecian column gown. This new power dressing lands in 2020.

A little party never killed anybody 

David Koma’s party dressing
David Koma’s party dressing

New power dressing, new party dressing. David Koma is the king of party dressing. 

A zebra catsuit, asymmetric micro-mini halter neck dresses, abbreviated tuxedo-style minis and floor-sweeping capes. 

Digest that for a moment. To the boldest and bravest beholder, these options are destined for the dancefloor.

Preen by Thornton Bregazzi, too, offered options aplenty in this field. One of their lace dresses in light pastels or a Japonisme print silk scarf dresses are compatible with any occasion.

Newly available at Brown Thomas, 16Arlington’s intimate event was charged by a raucous spirit with dancing models conveying the drama of 1960s Italian pop culture. Look out for hand-stitched feather dresses and rich embellishment as you party the night away. 

Or for the more daring, monochromatic catsuits perfect for your take on the 1960s.

Osman’s paean to daywear and eveningwear’s romance was lovely as ever with pretty frocks in cosmic tie-dyes, highly-stylised florals and tailoring in blocks of mint and topaz yellow.

What do fun and games mean if the world is burning? Well, why not party the night away as we watch the world burn, for the hell of it. 

Will dancing on the flames extinguish them? Perhaps the answer will arrive in the 2020s.

Irish stars rise to the top at fashion week

The concepts of Wexford designer Richard Malone straddle the world of art and fashion
The concepts of Wexford designer Richard Malone straddle the world of art and fashion

The Irish asserted their dominance as some of the top talents at London Fashion Week. Simone Rocha’s show at Alexandra Palace produced dazzling results. 

Taking cues from her Irish heritage this time, Dublin-born Rocha mined the enclaves of dilapidated Victorian properties which informed the faded wallpaper patterns which appeared on silk taffeta gowns and rustic deconstructed dresses blurred gender lines.

(Furthermore, her casting deserves an honourable mention: a mixture of models and Irish theatre actresses Olwen Fouéré, Jessie Buckley, Simone Kirby, Charlene McKenna, Valene Kane.) 

Derry native JW Anderson demands our undivided at his show which spanned a futuristic desert nomad and queen of the urbane. 

He blended sumptuous tailoring boasting tent-like protruded waists with flouncy summer dresses.

Richard Malone, from Co. Wexford, continued to explore the boundaries of silhouette and fabrication refining his vision for the future. 

As well as his distinctive round shoulders and nipped waist, he straddled art and fashion with visceral responses to the passing of his late grandmother. 

The result was beautiful, poignant, defying preconceived notions of fashion with contorted shapes, extended lines, and hyper-constructed tailoring. 

Not to mention, the collection is primarily made from renovated offices from past shows. Future dressing.

Tyrone-born Sharon Wauchob completed a yearlong exercise in experimentation, she juxtaposed the rigour of tailoring with the softness of silk satin and romance of flou.

Paul Costelloe was also in a romantic mood with sixties shapes (leg-o’-mutton sleeves, bow accents, empire waists) and floral patterns with splashes of lemon and pink. As ever, he happily satisfies his creative desires.

Kerry’s Colin Horgan and Wicklow’s Katie Ann McGuigan closed out the week, on Tuesday, with a show and presentation, respectively. 

Both have earned themselves a spot on the schedule for their singular approaches to fashion.

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