Ten highlights from the first physical London Fashion Week in over 18 months
The birth of Rocha’s second daughter was in part the inspiration for her latest outing, which looked towards the traditions and textiles of infant baptism – christening and communion gowns, here cut from ‘bedding’ brocade, delicate satin ribbons and bows, shimmering pearl embellishments. This feeling of naivety was tempered with a darker undercurrent typical of her work – “I really wanted that encompassing feeling, that you felt really in it, in this kind of nightmare lullaby,” she told AnOther.
Despite the pandemic, Maximilian Davis has emerged as one of London’s most exciting new designers – the decision by Michaela Coel to wear a custom design of his to the Baftas showed his growing reach. This season, still showing as part of Fashion East, Davis continued to evolve his sleek, sensual aesthetic – with a supreme focus on cut and silhouette – with a collection which drew inspiration from Nadia Huggins’ photographs of teens swimming in the Caribbean, a reminder of his own childhood holidays in Trinidad.
SS Daley – the eponymous label of Steven Stokey-Daley – is a new name on the fashion week schedule, though there is a good chance you have seen his clothing thanks to Harry Styles, who is a regular wearer of Daley’s signature oversized (and very high-waisted) trousers. For his first show, Stokey-Daley staged a theatrical riff on the uniforms of Britain’s elite – from flower-covered bowler hats to sweater vests and plaid pyjama tailoring – which represented a real highlight of London Fashion Week and an incredible debut.
Coming in the wake of her recent LVMH Prize win, all eyes were on Nensi Dojaka as she took on her first solo runway show since exiting Fashion East. Refusing to succumb to the pressure, Dojaka drilled down on her strappy, lingerie-inspired dresses and delicately crafted hosiery – the latter impressively decorated with a hovering flower motif – while a raft of wide-shouldered tailoring added depth to her growing offering. “[The show’s focus is] just beautiful, clear clothes,” she told AnOther. “With me, it’s never theatrical. It’s just a beautiful show about the clothes and about the girls. Because that’s what the brand is about: the women and the clothes.”
Titled ‘Adrenaline’ and held in a subterranean concrete car park, Charlotte Knowles and Alexandre Arsenault’s latest collection saw the pair channel a “ride or die” attitude – “it’s about the influx of energy and giving it everything you have,” they told AnOther. Knwls signatures – tough riffs of corsetry, pin-thin tailoring, lace-up blouses – were reiterated, while “crazy, dishevelled” handkerchief-hem dresses and skirts added a fresh silhouette.
Stefan Cooke and Jake Burt called their collection an ode to the “high street’s golden years”, a time growing up where chain stores and charity shops defined their burgeoning sense of style. The aim, they said, was to look at the idea of high fashion and aspiration outside of the tropes of wealth and luxury, recalling a sense of teenage nostalgia with a vintage-tinged collection. “There’s a reflection thing [to the collection]”, they said. “We didn’t know each other at all growing up, but we had pretty much the same upbringing. I feel like it’s the culture of our generation.”
Richard Malone’s collections are often instilled with a feeling of nostalgia for his native country of Ireland, and the town of Wexford where he grew up. This season – which featured a high-profile Mulberry collaboration and was styled by AnOther senior fashion editor-at-large Nell Kalonji – he looked back to the rosettes his grandmother would make for horse meets and Gaelic football tournaments. “They are made out of leftover fabric, but there’s so much energy in it,” he said of the collection’s starting point. “The fact that the show’s at the V&A, that contrast means something to me.”
The simple elegance of Margaret Howell’s clothing lends them well to the intimate setting of a private appointment, giving those invited room to see the quality of the clothing up close. As ever, there was plenty for the brand’s many followers to add to their wardrobe in the coming months, though it was the inclusion of a wide-leg, elastic waist trouser – a refined take on the ubiquitous sweat pant – which epitomised Howell’s knack to sense the needle shift in what her customer wants.
Supriya Lele got stranded in Ibiza in the run-up to her collection – no matter, the island’s Balearic mood seemed at one with the designer’s sensual, 90s-tinged aesthetic, lending the collection a feeling of lightness and escape. There were slinky layers of macrame, stitched with sequins, low-slung trousers, and new iterations of her strappy, featherlight dresses, here cut on the hip to reveal the line of a thong beneath. “I wanted to generate a feeling of freedom and joy,” she said.
Vivienne Westwood has been looking back into her archive in recent seasons, this time reviving her Spring 1998 ‘Tied to the Mast’ collection in playful fashion for Spring/Summer 2022. Photographed by Kristin Lee-Moolman and AnOther Magazine fashion director (men’s) Ellie Grace Cumming on the backdrop of various nautical accoutrements – from a wooden ship to a shark’s head – the collection had an eclectic air, nodding to the corsets and crinolines of the original collection but loosening them up for her growing contingent of young customers.