It was meant to be a big post-Brexit comeback with the promise of a considerable amount of industry professionals concentrating in the English capital. Past editions had looked more like a regional affair lacking of big names – the same names that attract international buyers, editors, influencers, and photographers all together in London. It was meant to mark a new golden season of London Fashion Week.
Back in July, the Burberry catwalk was officially announced after a series of showings off-calendar. After making a couple of rounds in Milan and Paris, JW Anderson has finally returned to the British Fashion Council schedule, while Raf Simons fashion house was excited to showcase its first overseas runway.
And then the pillar of english politics, history, and culture died, leaving the world in respectful silence. Rest In Peace Queen Elizabeth II, with all the honors. But after 10 days of national mourning overlapping with the whole fashion week period, what happened to all the promises of renewed energy in the english fashion industry?
When the news of the Queen’s passing hit the shelves, many shows were rescheduled or canceled. The first to fall being those big names that were the pride of this edition: Burberry, Raf Simons, Ahluwalia, Nok Nok, or Max Hosa – just to quote some.
The British Fashion Council’s directions didn’t take long to come, ensuring both brands and media would stage shows with consciousness and a certain respect for the national mood.
London Fashion Week… Just a Business Affair?
“We recognise that there is an extraordinary hard work that goes into preparing for London Fashion Week with many new developing businesses that need access to international trade”
Stating the Fashion week’s business-to-business nature and the necessity to stick to commercial objectives, the BFC suggested delaying whatever was consumer-oriented content or initiatives. Parties, new openings, performances, street style and backstage culture… adios!
(… In theory! ).
The fact is that PR agencies and professionals have shed double tears: one for the queen, the other one for the British Fashion Council’s statement. If fashion weeks were just a B2B matter, the impact of a monarch passing should have been close to Zero. But that’s not really the case, and firms had to take the delicate decision of whether to cancel the show, reschedule it or go ahead with maximum discretion. Let’s not forget that the British Fashion Council has also asked brands to hold off the runaways image releases, as a sign of respect.
But, we can’t ignore the fact that fashion weeks haven’t been a business matter since social media’s takeover. More or less 10 years ago – you can do the math yourself.
Gone are the times when fashion shows were meant to just raise orders from international buyers! The success of fashion weeks and runways is also measured in terms of engagement, reach and press coverage. Otherwise, what are the PR agencies working for? Why the hell should a brand invite influencers? Why repost the coolest people on the street?
Even recently, the pandemic has revealed the irreplaceability of catwalks as the main marketing events, where beyond the 12-minute runway – Yes Man, that’s the average time of a fashion show!- the post-show networking is often the main point.
Long Live… the London Fashion Week
In the end, it was a great edition despite the hard premises. The contribution – and the collection! – of Johnatan Anderson, founder of JW Anderson has been completely and utterly unforgettable. It seems that in the midst of the emergency, the British Fashion Council had a call with fellow designers to decide the fate of LFW. According to Sara Mower, Anderson has taken a resolute lead in carrying on with the shows, caring about those emerging brands that couldn’t afford to cancel.
Many showcasing brands have fiercely held the fort and perfectly represented that distinctive open-mindedness and vibrant experimentations characteristic of the London fashion scene. Baguette bags, cut-out dresses, tight and shining fabrics, wide length and low waist trousers, platform shoes… this edition was an ode to the Y2K, with a remarkable GenZ twist!
For those Millennials that remember the 2k-o’clock-end-of-the-world fear, the infamous Aguilera trousers, or the daily denim abuse… This LFW was all about your (and our) nostalgia!
We couldn’t miss the TNC’s fave, of course. But this time, taking into account those hard conditions, we want to prize the brands that massively punched above their weight and the adverse circumstances!
Just keep your panties on, and enjoy the journey!
JW ANDERSON: belting on Y2K
Vegas vibes on Saturday night! JW Anderson’s catwalk was staged in the heart of Soho, just a step forward from the iconic flagship store. After Chanel, which with its Cruise collection brought the audience to the heart of Montecarlo, it was the Northern Irish designer’s turn to drive the audience toward the gambling world… May there be a new trend in the air?
What has been made clear is that Anderson is pushing on the Kidult trend, already encoded in his pigeon bag on the last collection. Still, this time he brought it to a heavenly level, matching it with a critical point of view on the present, human consciussness. His collection embraces the internet 2.0 and demode computer features (hey, remember the y2k?!) to reflect on the complexity of contemporary reality.
“I like this idea of a transient moment in time. I’ve been exploring this for several collections. Are we falling into our screens, becoming our phones? I think it’s really like an alternate universe, and there are layers and layers and layers to it. I think it’s probably about realism. I don’t think it’s about futurism. It’s more about a reflection of ourselves somehow’
Layers upon layers… Of chaotic events, of newness, of trends. Bizarreness has become part of Anderson’s signature. Drawing “from stock digital pictures you find on the internet and can buy for a dollar”, his collection has featured a metallic- egg dress, alongside a halterneck top made of anachronistic keyboard letters, goldfish-in-plastic-bags dresses, planet’s map, or sunsets prints.
KNWLS: the playful-punk nostalgia
South London-based label KNWLS closed Day 1 with a SS23 line that smelled like the good ol’ underground spirits. The duo Charlotte Knowles and Alexandre Arsenault have translated ultra-low-rise jeans, lacework cutouts, bleached patterns, and acid-washed denim into stern elegance. Continuing their collaboration with the accessory designer Marco Panconesi, KNWL has staged an ode to the artful Punk, proper of the early 2000s’ London pop-grunge scene.
No doubt about the next beauty trend the brand has kicked off: The breathtaking models’ hair was densely drenched in glitter: shades from electric blue and brassy copper ended into iconic tight braids, thanks to the mastery of Eugene Souleiman.
Love Letters From SS Daley
The SS23 of the LVMH Prize 2022 Winner Steven Stokey Daley has given voice to queer women in a patriarchal contemporaneity. And he did it by putting his specialty in place. After all, Daley’s signature is constantly flirting with a class Ideology that criticizes British elitism via the theatrical, bespoken garments.
The “Vita” collection is based on an exchange of 19th-century love letters, between the author Vita Sackville-West and socialite Violet Trefusis. A dramatic bell kicked off the show, and the models started to recite the secret love notes, each of them grasping a candle.
Muted blazers, wide-cut shirts, sweater vests, and – the ubiquity of Kidult trend- bunny ears and bags… Daley opened the doors to the author’s garden. And the audience? Just in silence, breathing the romance and despair in each seam.
Despite all the premises, London Fashion Week has staged an incredible cauldron of creativity. And now that it has come to an end, its role in setting the next season’s must-have trends is undeniable. Get ready to get Punk’d, and open up your wardrobe to the biker style while playing with wired Y2K-inspired looks. Don’t forget to show off your belly, and flash meat through cutouts dresses and flirtatious formalwear, claiming the freedom of your body. And above all, embrace fluidity, and rewrite those norms that seek to bound your gender identity.