Five highlights from London Fashion Week AW/23
Written by By Hannah Makonnen
Fashion Minority Reports
This week saw the height of theatrical fashion, from the surprise monologue of Sir Ian McKellen at S.S Daley to live Afro-jazz performed by Balimaya Project at Labrum. Once again, showcasing the city’s undisputed diversity of talent. Though all good things come to an end, there’s no harm in sweet reminiscing, so here’s a recap of its best moments.
Pregnant women’s fashion has often leaned towards more demure looks, covering the most apparent changes in the female body, the stomach. But, ever since Rihanna stepped out with her bejewelled pregnant belly, wearing a fuchsia, Chanel puffer jacket to announce her first pregnancy, fashion has been experimenting with ways to embrace the female body in all its forms. Proving there was really no reason to hide it in the first place.
Designers, Di Petsa and Sinead O’Dwyer both featured pregnant women gallantly walking the catwalk of their London Fashion Week shows. However, this is not a new feat for Di Petsa, as their last three collections previously explored versions of maternity style. This season was simply a continuation. Inspired by the Greek mythological story of Persephone, Di Petsa indulged in her quintessential style, adorning the models in ruched chiffon, which clasped their figures as though they had just emerged from water.
Sinead O’Dwyer, opted for more provocative measures, with their shibari-inspired body suit surrounding the models stomach. On Instagram O’Dwyer explains the collection titled ‘Dúil’, is the Irish word for desire, “[containing] layers of nuance – notions of fondness, appetite, longing, craving [and] lust”. Ushering us into a new era of maternity style, one drenched in sex-appeal and allure.
There was a record number of East Asian designers
This year’s London Fashion Week saw a record breaking number of East Asian designers featured in its line up, with a total of 15 designers amongst the 5 day schedule. Including, Simone Rocha, Yuhan Wang and Chet Lo. Most excitingly, we saw the comeback of ASAI, a brand who has previously showcased as part of Fashion East. With his last show back in February 2019, he returned for his final collection under The British Fashion Council’s ‘New Gen’ initiative.
Fashion East’s newest designers take the runway for the second time
London’s most prolific incubator programme, Fashion East, showed its three newest talents, Karoline Vitto, Johanna Parv and Standing Ground, for their second LFW collections. Founded by Lulu Kennedy over 20 years ago, Fashion East made its mark through nurturing the talent of UK’s most contemporary designers, including the likes of JW Andersen, Martine Rose and Simone Rocha.
Karoline Vitto showcased her tailored silhouettes, using metal framing to shape women’s curves, creases and folds. Central Saint Martins graduate Johanna Parv, explored versatile options for women’s streetwear, while Standing Ground opted for elegant sculpts, with floor length gowns designed from wool and stretchy micro-knits.
Daniel Lee debuted his first collection with Burberry
Arguably the most anticipated show of the week was Daniel Lee’s debut collection at Burberry this Monday. The symbolistic change of hands between Lee and previous Chief Creative Officer, Ricardo Tisci, saw the end of the TB monogram, which had a short 5 year stint with the brand. Lee, who grew up in Bradford and shares the county of Yorkshire with Burberry’s historic production mills, demonstrated a strong understanding of what it takes to stand at the helm of one of Britain’s last remaining heritage brands. Earlier this month, he reinstated the classic equestrian logo, leaving many hopeful to see Burberry brought ‘back home’.
The collection made an apparent shift from the tonal beige that is synonymous with the brands name, as Lee filtered hues of dark green, deep blues and purples throughout. Nods made to British kitsch, 70’s style prints, combined with the fur and feathers of farmer garms, created a hugely referential collection that hearkened back to Burberry’s success origins with Christopher Bailey. One model even wore a knitted duck hat with a heavy military style coat. The reason being, “ducks are so British and associated with rain”, Lee explains. He somehow designed a cohesive dichotomy of old meets new, a lyrical story tale of Britain, re-defining itself in the modern age.
Channelling Cultural Roots
Fashion as a form of storytelling is nothing new, as designers often seek inspiration from the vibrant stories of their cultural background. Fortunately, we were not short of it this season.
Labrum, a West African designer, set his scene in the midst of Brixton Market, as the runway weaved down a line of Afro-caribbean stalls. His designs featured 90’s panelled suits, imprinted with images of vintage West African stamps, a reflection on the journey that Dumbaya’s father made as an immigrant in 1989.
For designer Simone Rocha, spectators gathered in the baroque surroundings of Central Hall Westminster. Awaiting the audience was a poem at their seats, instilling the theme of a “twisted lullaby”. Models traipsed along the runway with the impression of bleeding tears in pearl embellished tulle dresses to the morose, discerning sounds of Irish folk band, Lankum. A display of the Irish infused theatrics that she has become well known for.