Rachel Marie Walsh reports on next season’s trends from London Fashion Week.
Clothes got political at New York Fashion Week but The Great British Breakup was notably absent from London’s catwalks.
Designers were definitely in the Remain camp last year (90% opposed the split, according to a 2016 British Fashion Council survey) but perhaps need more clarity on what to kick against before we see rebel yells like Public School’s ‘Make America New York Again’ hats or Diesel’s ‘Make Love Not Walls’ campaign.
The official LFW response to uncertain times is open arms. BFC chair Dame Natalie Massenet opened proceedings with a call for the industry to unite in reassuring the world that fashion here is still multicultural and open.
‘#TiedTogether,’ an inclusivity initiative by London-based news site The Business of Fashion, has show-goers sporting white bandanas in all four fashion capitals.
Less divisive (and therefore more commercial) than political slogans is a clothing communiqué that, of a Saturday, women can mobilise and march the world.
Several designers cited feminine power as inspiration.
Simone Rocha named her new collection ‘March of the Roses’ and sent out models of various ages, including septuagenarian super Benedetta Barzini.
Invisibility in fashion is usually spoken of in racial or body shape-terms, and the age-inclusive statement was a fine one. But no delicate flowers these, Rocha’s coats and coat-dresses were military-structured and coloured black or khaki.
Her camo details are daisies and roses and her prom dresses have bellows pockets.
Roksanda Ilincic liked the idea of a warrior woman for winter. Her pleated tunic tops and wide-leg trousers were coloured carmine and scarlet in homage to the powerful palette at Abstract Expressionism, Mark Rothko’s recent Royal Academy show. The look was louche and comfortable but no less robust for being feminine.
Inspired by feminist art and suffragettes, Preen by Thornton Bregazzi’ colourful suits were accessorised with ribbons that read ‘Mother,’ ‘Daughter’ or ‘Sister’ and grosgrain belts bearing the words ‘I am, I am, I am.’
Fashion designers always deal in dreams to some extent, especially at haute couture level, but this season’s prints and embellishments were especially escapist.
Mary Katrantzou’s designs have looked Disney-fied in the past but this season went full-on fantasia, with sequins and screenshots depicting scenes from the 1940 film running across dresses and blazers.
She was particularly moved by the film’s Pastoral Symphony vignette, and fans will recognise mermaids, pixies and centaurs.
Do not chuck out last season’s velvet because this trend has legs for months.
The lustrous pile was ubiquitous on London’s catwalks, from Antonio Berardi to the much-anticipated Roland Mouret show, which included updates of many of the red carpet-favourites greatest hits. Both Mouret and Christopher Kane did stunning black velvet bias-cut dresses.
Erdem’s Ottoman-inspired devoré velvets were especially opulent, printed with botanical patterns and wallpaper florals.
Mary Katrantzou detailed her shimmery mini-dresses with blue velvet jellyfish, while Emilia Wickstead sent out some lovely fitted cocktail numbers in velvet lace.
Ports 1961, a Canadian public company that manufactures in Italy and maintains an all-female design team in London, has a strong following among women who like oversized layers, perfectly tailored.
This is tall-girl thing and, as much I admire the look, my adopting it would make as much sense as Ports ladies surrendering their soles to my five-inchers.
Here’s the thing, though, their signature style is a trend. Roksanda Ilincic, who’d look pretty spectacular in Ports, put her models in great sheets of Rothko-red silk and velvet.
Mulberry’s Johnny Coca went with checkered skirt-suits that may have been inspired by Baroness Thatcher’s style but would have swamped her frame.
Even Topshop Unique was moved to pairing huge cotton sweaters with ankle-grazing skirts. Sweaters I will be wearing as dresses with over-the-knee boots. Loophole!
If you are vertically blessed and subscribe to this trend with just one garment, make it a great white coat.
White coats are the outerwear for winter 2017 and cropped up in more collections than hairy Gucci loafers did front rows.
Seriously, who - apart from Alessandro Michele -thought those dirt-traps would get any purchase? And on the subject of surprising skins...
Fur is having a moment. This most morally discomfiting of trends (it looks and feels good but can never truly be ethical) was tempting at JW Anderson, where plush rabbit jackets off-set more utilitarian pieces.
Christopher Kane lined and trimmed glossy-white patent coats with black mink. Crocs, which the Scotsman seems determined to make desirable, were embellished with the fluffy stuff. You could go faux, as seen on fluffy pink and blue sweaters at Versus Versace.
Simone Rocha looked regal clutching faux-fox stoles. Shrimps, the fake fur line by London designer Hannah Weiland, borrowed colours, shapes and checks from artist Louise Bourgeois for creamy overcoats with touches of red and hand-drawn nudes.
There is an environmental cost to faking it (the fibers are usually modacrylic and therefore derived from oil and synthetic chemicals that will not biodegrade), but the process is slaughter-free.
A textiles trend for winter is about as surprising as spring florals but do look closer, because these are not your granny’s knits.
Faustine Steinmetz, a Parisian-born Central St. Martin’s alum whose fledging label wows with hand-spun denims, has remarked that her passion for textiles with depth and texture is a reaction to the digital prints that dominated London fashion at the beginning of the decade.
Now designers that include this responsible for said prints (most famously Peter Pilotto, Mary Katrantzou and Erdem), are focusing on more intricate craftsmanship themselves.
Burberry’s Christopher Bailey was inspired to focus on the shoulders after studying Henry Moore, whose sketches and sculptures featured alongside the clothes at the brand’s Monday presentation.
The result was couture-standard detailing in this area - millefeuilles of lace and crochet-wool in place of epaulettes and fine-knit cut-outs or shearling throws framing décolletés.
Peter Pilotto’s Peruvian-themed collections featured gauzy but beautifully textured knits dyed ombré with orange, pinks and greens.
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