LONDON — This city’s fall 2016 collections won praise from buyers for their craftsmanship, individuality and innovation, with standout collections including Alexander McQueen, which returned to the capital after 15 years, Burberry, Mary Katrantzou, Erdem and Simone Rocha.
Shiny fabrics, floral patterns, statement outerwear, fur and feminine embellishment, rich velvets, innovative shirting, eclectic mixes — and a distinct move away from androgyny and athleticism — were among the biggest trends to emerge during the week.
“London has it going on,” said Linda Fargo, senior vice president, fashion office and store presentation at Bergdorf Goodman. “At least you could feel some heart and soul and individuality. London continues to capture our imagination, and our share of wallet. Craftsmanship in general is to be applauded.”
Fargo said Erdem’s “continuation of mixed-media complex lacework” was a standout, with its “melodramatic and beautiful dark romance.” She also said Katrantzou’s “Ziggy Stardust meets ‘Grey Gardens’ was ‘literally fantastic.’”
She said she loved Sarah Burton’s “extraordinary efforts with her dreamy yet edgy street-to-boudoir fantasy, while Anya Hindmarch’s bags were as innovative and playful as her Rubik’s Cube set.” McQueen returned to London this season for a one-off show ahead of a fragrance launch in the capital earlier this week.
Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director at Neiman Marcus, said Erdem showed one of the best collections of his career. “Every note was perfection. I loved the lace, the winter florals, the romantic, dark gothic poetry of the show,” he said.
Helen David, fashion director at Harrods called the week “phenomenal,” due to the excitement of McQueen’s show and a “standout” one from Burberry. “This collection, which was all about outerwear, felt like it had a real point of view.”
David added that the city “went all out” with outerwear. “Not keep-me-warm coats but look-at-me coats,” adding that, in many shows, the coat was the real look. “Alexander McQueen, Burberry, Roksanda and Peter Pilotto all showed notice-me outerwear, with capes of every shape and size being the highlight.”
Leila Yavari, fashion director of Stylebop.com, said the focus was also on wardrobe pieces. “While the runway mood read as eclectic and mix-matched, taken apart the collections were all built around amazing investment pieces that boast plenty of contemporary appeal,” she said.
“Perhaps the most dominant trend was an elaboration of the vintage-y,” said Yavari, adding there was a big focus on texture. “At Simone Rocha, the mood was haute with nubby bouclé and ethereal layers combining for a deconstructed, slightly undone glamour.”
Yavari said budgets are based on past brand performance, and over the last few years the London collections have performed “consistently well” with the site’s customers, “particularly with runway pieces. This will definitely be reflected in the AW16 budget.”
Sarah Rutson, global vice president of buying at Net-a-porter, said “the rebel girl returned to London this season, with elements of goth, punk and grunge all in the mix. We also loved the use of rich fabrics such as velvet, brocades and shine, and surface decoration in the way of jewelry and feathers, which elevated so many collections.” She pointed to McQueen, Rocha, Preen and Erdem as the standout collections of the season.
Roopal Patel, senior vice president, fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue, called the week “a breath of fresh air,” with designers celebrating their unique points of view.
“I think the dominant trend really was this whole idea of opulence and decadence. It was so refreshing to see the return to glamour and opulent clothing that felt very feminine and very modern for today’s times,” she said.
She pointed to McQueen, Erdem, Rocha and J.W. Anderson as among the highlights, with a “whole energetic feeling of shine and also this idea of a play on volume.”
Justin O’Shea, Mytheresa.com global fashion director, noted that London’s designers are taking their collections to the next level. As a result, O’Shea said London budgets will be up this season.
“I like that there is no ‘middle ground’ anymore,” he said. “The British designers know they have to produce ‘awesome’ looks to compete with the big houses, and this approach creates desirability.”
He said he felt there was a real focus on accessories. “Erdem, Kane, Roksanda, J.W. Anderson all had cool shoes. Kane’s new bags and eyewear also were a highlight.” He also pointed to the dark romance of many of the collections. “Erdem, Kane, Simone Rocha and McQueen all portrayed a woman that was born with glamour in her veins, but her life has taken her on a different path. She is conflicted between her desires and how she would like to be. This beautiful destructiveness is the most powerful theme I took from the London shows.”
Scott Tepper, fashion buying and merchandising director at Liberty, said the store’s favorite day was Saturday “when many of the lesser-known brands surprised us with quirky and charming collections.”
He talked about “color and liveliness” from brands including Sibling, with its disco Lurex; Holly Fulton’s print mash-ups and J.W. Anderson’s “futuristic cocktails. It was just a terrific day for British fashion.” He said Katrantzou’s collection was one of the store’s favorites. “We started planning windows as soon as we were in the car on the way to the next show,” he said.
Tepper added the store’s budgets would be up in line with the growth it’s “been seeing in its women’s business for very unique British fashion.”
Downing said the season was strong for the individual designers, but also for certain categories.
“The idea of interesting shirting, especially sleeve details like the bishop’s sleeve, the bell sleeve, the lantern sleeve. The idea of a men’s wear take on the shirt — but done in a superupdated way, worn underneath a bustier for day, which everyone is loving. It’s a really a bold statement. The shirting we’re seeing on the runway looks terrific,” he said.