Despite the allegations of industry-wide sexual abuse of models hanging over the fashion industry this week, revealed in a Spotlight investigation published by the Boston Globe newspaper, London made a confident showing of designer talent – rounded off with a royal wave.
"This might have been the buzziest London Fashion Week in recent memory" declared vogue.com. Two breakthrough designers got pulses racing. Matty Bovan (dubbed "fashion's bright hope" by The Guardian), sent a host of punky, post-apocalyptic tweed looks down the runway that recalled Vivienne Westwood at her best. Richard Malone is a millennial eco-warrior designer who makes clothes women of any age want to wear, as vogue.com's Sarah Mower attests: "Malone's startlingly refreshing show put London Fashion Week's best foot forward at 9am on the first morning. For circle-cut jackets, sweeping coats, swishy knit dresses, and flares by the young Irish designer from Wexford, step this way!' Favourite designer of cult department store Dover Street Market, Molly Goddard, put on a truly stellar show too – set in a steely professional kitchen, replete with models swigging vino in ruched oversized cocktail dresses, as the Evening Standard reports.
The first designer who got tongues wagging over a royal connection was Erdem Moralioglu. The designer, who is pegged 2-1 at bookmakers to design Meghan Markle's wedding gown, themed his collection around an aristocratic Anglo-American romance from the 1930s – that of Broadway star Adele Astaire (sister of Fred) and Lord Charles Cavendish, son of the 9th Duke of Devonshire. According to vogue.co.uk,"The theme was cemented at Lismore Castle in Ireland, their marital home".
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"I love the idea of this vaudeville, tinselly kind of extraordinary girl who came from Hollywood then came to Ireland," says Moralioglu, who visited the castle in Cork. "A shine mixed with something tweedy and woolly – mixing these two kinds of worlds that really don't mix together at all."
Somewhat controversially, given the current climate, London stalwart Christopher Kane made sexuality the focus of his collection: "I've always been obsessed with human behaviour and sex — whether that's the biology of it, or the actual physical act of it. I based this collection on the joy of sex, but I did it in a beautiful, provocative, sensual way." Indeed, illustrations from the original The Joy of Sex was printed onto dresses. As Jo Ellison of the FT reports, "Flesh-coloured silks with lace trims and words taken from the manual's text. And there were bondage leathers, and 'cage' dresses, all lined in crystal diamante, designed to push one's more subversive buttons." Ellison is enthusiastic, "A gorgeous trench with a leather tie-front opened the collection. Sparkly sweater dresses were sprinkled throughout. There was some great suiting and a couple of knockout evening dresses. I also loved the lace bodysuits."
Christopher Bailey, the man credited with saving Burberry from oblivion by linking it to cool Britannia 17 years ago, and also transforming it into one of the most digitally progressive labels around, gave his swansong this February. As Jess Cartner-Morley of The Guardian reports, "Puffa jackets and hi-top trainers came with rainbow stripes, and a trenchcoat and a blanket cape in a technicolour version of the distinctive beige check. This season, the Burberry check is rainbow-hued, a symbol of the firm's financial support for LGBTQ+ charities." Bailey not only bolstered Burberry with a miracle turnaround, by moving their show to London from Milan in 2010 – then a city known for fledgling madcap brands – he made it a serious contender in the international Fashion Week circuit.
Images of HRH Queen Elizabeth II smiling in delight in a stylish pale blue suit on the front row next to (HRH) Anna Wintour at newcomer Richard Quinn's show, dominated the social media feeds of attendees on the closing day of London Fashion Week. The monarch's presence marks the inaugural presentation of the Queen Elizabeth II award for "exceptional talent and originality". The winner, Quinn, formerly of Dior, is known for "for mashing up prints with classic silhouettes". It remains to be seen whether the Queen adds any pieces from the collection to her wardrobe.
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