Buyer diary: Y2K style and fresh new talent at London Fashion Week
It seems that a regular catwalk show will no longer do for some at London Fashion Week.
A host of designers and brands, including SS Daley and Tiger of Sweden, have chosen to present their upcoming spring/summer 22 collections through means such as theatre and dance. This includes Monday afternoon's Roksanda show.
Guests assembled at the Serpentine Pavillion, where the Serbian designer's show was held once again, designed by a different architect each year. South African Sumayya Vally is behind this year's stone-coloured, cement coliseum-like structure. It was an appropriate setting for a suitably dramatic show.
Dancers directed by choreographer Holly Blakey put designer Roksanda Ilincic's SS22 collection through its paces – billowing, voluminous dresses etched with bold paint strokes of fuchsia and turquoise were centre stage, as were block-colour gowns in the designer's signature bright shades – canary yellow, burnt orange and maroon were contrasted with muted tones of sand. Fabrics included recycled taffeta.
Models also took to the stage, showing the collection on plinths. Boxy tailoring was inspired by men's suits from the 1980s, the powerplay represented with monochrome and pin-stripe colour blocking. Long-sleeved, colourful maxi-dresses, jackets and full skirts were emblazoned with impassioned black and pink etchings, as if by pen.
Back on the traditional catwalk, Newgen designer Supriya Lele (main image above) affirmed that early noughties fashion is back on the map – Drapers even spotted a sparkling belly chain. Cut-out details reigned at the up-and-coming designer's SS22 show – with flesh-flashing bodysuits and keyhole cut-out halternecks signalling the return of dressing up. Sheer green mini-skirts, fitted dresses, fishnet fabric tops and skirts also continued the trend for all things provocative, also seen at David Koma on Friday.
A confident display of flesh was also the order of the day at Fashion East in emerging designer Maximilian Davis's collection, who showed his debut collection at Fashion East in September 2020. Today, strappy body suits in powerful black and bright red shades dominated the runway, as did high-shine, figure-hugging PVC skirts, siren-red trousers and dramatic elbow-length gloves. Red, white and black mini-dresses with sheer panels and layers of satin showed a softer but no less powerful side to Maximilian's collection. This brand is Drapers' one to watch from London Fashion Week SS21.
His menswear continued the bold shades of red, blue and white – in boxy co-ords and clinical jackets, contrasted with playful PVC elements.
Fellow Fashion East participant Chet Lo was all about texture – soft, scuba-textured spikes dominated his collection, with models wearing dream-like candy pink, blue, purple and yellow pieces such as cut-out halterneck dresses, asymmetric tops and mini-skirts.
Osman took us to rainforest-themed central London restaurant Amazonica to witness his SS22 collection, to celebrate a partnership with Tencel. The result was a new biodegradable fabric that has the appearance of silk, but is vegan-friendly and biodegradable. A total of 15 pieces from his collection were made of the new Tencel Luxe fabric, with the remainder of looks made from offcut fabrics woven using traditional hand-loom methods in India and Pakistan. The result was a varied collection – from glamorous, sheer, pale pink maxi-dresses, to no-nonsense fitted black tailoring.
Menswear label Stefan Cook explored the meaning of British fashion with its new collection. Creative directors Stefan Cook and Jake Burt presented trompe-l'œil prints of military fastenings on simple T-shirts, a statement Union Jack sweater in all of its bright red, white and blue glory, and tops layered with sheer argyle and cable knit patterns – modernising British heritage. All were topped off with traditional bakerboy caps, given a twist with PVC textures or floral patterns.
Next summer is about celebration and confidence if London Fashion Week so far is anything to go by, as both emerging and established designers prepare for a bright future.
Buyer's diary: Stavros Karelis, founder and owner, Machine-A
What does it feel like to be back at London Fashion Week?
It feels very exciting to reconnect with people, to physically experience the creativity and energy again of these wonderful designers. To see clothes in person, to feel and to be in the moment.
How do you think the event and atmosphere has changed, compared to the start of the pandemic?
I think everyone remains cautious but definitely way more optimistic for the future. The connectivity we all missed so much and being physically part of something we love doing, I think will lead to many collaborations, projects and people coming together celebrating that life slowly but steadily moves to a positive direction.
What shows stood out on day three of LFW?
My favourite shows of the day were the absolutely breathtaking Stefan Cooke show, Fashion East and, of course, Charles Jeffrey Loverboy. Stefan Cooke was one of the biggest highlights, with a collection that felt so mature and evolved with incredible accessories and knitwear. Fashion East is truly the gem during London Fashion Week, based on the fantastic selection that [founder] Lulu Kennedy does. Maximilian was unbelievably good, so chic and elegant but at the same time so youthful and playful. Finally, if you really want to feel what London is about, the energy, the immersive experience, the subcultures that give birth to so many trends, there is no other show like Charles Jeffrey Loverboy. His collection is absolutely phenomenal, one of the best designers to watch.
Are there any emerging trends or must-have pieces that you've noticed?
London Fashion week is all about celebrating individual talent and each designer is so unique and special to what they do, that the focus is on each one’s individual work without worrying about trends. I think the main focus apart from design is craftsmanship, incredible quality and finesse. You see that when you notice the absolutely beautiful collection of Eftychia, of Richard Malone, of Nensi Dojaka, Stefan Cooke, Maximilian of Fashion East and Steven Ma. There is also a beautiful hint of reveal and conceal design that celebrates the empowerment of the body, and being gender fluid which is strong, inspirational and powerful.
How have you tackled the buying process throughout the pandemic?
We were only doing buying appointments digitally, and that of course has its limitations in terms of understanding the collection fully, understanding the fit, the quality and textures. I have to say that some showrooms did an absolutely incredible job by presenting us digitally the collections. However, I am very excited finally to see the designers and the collections again in person.
Are there any designers you're looking forward to seeing at the international shows?
Raf Simons, Rick Owens, Maison Margiela.