London Fashion Week was all action, with the antifur protestors out in greater numbers than last season, Queen Elizabeth II making a surprise appearance at emerging designer Richard Quinn’s show, and members of the industry remembering punk icon Judy Blame, whose death was revealed on Tuesday.
And then there was the fashion. Buyers from both sides of the Atlantic touted the collections for their homespun techniques, use of rich fabrics and heritage themes. They said the standouts were Erdem, Christopher Kane, Simone Rocha, Mary Katrantzou, Roksanda, Burberry and Rejina Pyo. Roopal Patel, senior vice president and fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue said the changing of the guard at London Fashion Week led to a creative spirit and high energy — a welcome start to the European fashion marathon. “Christopher Bailey’s final collection for Burberry had a great sense of hope and optimism,” she said.
Coco Chan, head of women’s wear at Stylebop.com, said she’s seeing the beginning of a “slow fashion” moment. “London served up rich, beautiful things full of tactile surprises that would be best savored over time,” she said. “This was an extension of the spring 2018 Arts and Crafts trend, which London designers nurtured.” She said homespun techniques were evident in heritage fabrics and in the use of jacquards, silks and tapestries, and couture-level craftsmanship.
She pointed to Katrantzou’s pointillist caviar beading and Preen’s “fabulous mash-up” of metallic embroideries, magpie adornments, crystal netting and marabou feathers. She called the results “sumptuous and personal but also youthful and fun — kept so by easily layered silhouettes that made the classic trademarks of opulence feel casual and unfussy.”
Here, a roundup of what buyers had to say about the London season:
Linda Fargo, senior vice president of the fashion office and the director of women’s fashion and store presentation at Bergdorf Goodman
FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: It was, hands down, Erdem. There was also lots to like at Huishan Zhang, Simone Rocha and Mary Katrantzou.
MUST-HAVE ITEM: A new high-waisted trouser and the boyfriend jacket.
TOP TRENDS: His closet to hers, tulle and velvets, black on black, midheels.
BEST VENUE: Erdem’s show at The National Portrait Gallery and the incredible swinging pendant lamp installation at Burberry.
SAY BYE-BYE TO: Scarf hemlines.
TALENT SCOUTING: Combing the aisles of the London Showrooms.
Roopal Patel, senior vice president and fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue
FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Christopher Bailey’s final collection for Burberry had a great sense of hope and optimism, and Erdem’s glamorous and elegant collection was a real standout. We saw Seventies-meet-Eighties glamour with sequins and shine at Halpern, and Simone Rocha’s collection was strong with its mix of tartan, florals, patent, brocade, embellishment and tulle. Delpozo was masterful and vibrant by playing on color and proportion, and we were impressed by J.W. Anderson’s modern-day approach of combining the men’s and women’s show.
TOP TRENDS: We saw a lot of tailored elements, specifically the return of the jacket and statement suiting. In terms of materials, there was plenty of velvet, satin, patent leather, rich and elaborate brocades and novelty tulle used for peek-a-boo insets. We were a huge fan of the silver metallics — especially those seen in Erdem’s final looks. Tartans, plaids and checks with embroidery felt directional and novel when mixed with prints and paired back to feminine pieces. We loved that Burberry and Roksanda both put an emphasis on blanket dressing for fall. High shine was prominent with sequins, crystal embellishment and palettes. Statement pieces that stood out were long skirts for day or evening, knit dressing and outerwear.
MUST-HAVE ITEM: The rainbow puffer vest and the rainbow and plaid blanket wrap from Burberry.
BEST VENUE: London — for Anya Hindmarch’s love letter tribute. It was beautiful to see the chubby hearts pop up all over the city.
SAY BYE-BYE TO: Casual dressing. If we learned anything from this London Fashion Week, it’s that the fall season will be about getting dressed up again.
TALENT SCOUTING: Rejina Pyo and Fashion East are definitely brands to watch.
Ken Downing, fashion director at Neiman Marcus
FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Hands down, it was Erdem. I loved the cinematic spirit of the mid Twenties and early Thirties. I think he’s a good contender to make Meghan Markle’s wedding dress, and he certainly showed his chops with this beautiful collection. I also thought Rejina Pyo’s show was spectacular. She’s really grown up and brings herself forward season after season. Simone Rocha’s show was just beautiful, and if you were paying attention you would have noticed that those were real candles burning in the chandeliers. In an era where we’re obsessed with technology and digital, there is a joy to be had from something touched by the human hand.
TOP TRENDS: Sequins and all of the beautiful Kelly green, jade, peacock, teals and blues, the buttery yellows, saffrons and ochres. We also saw blanket wraps and coats and soft capes — that’s something we didn’t see in New York.
MUST-HAVE ITEM: Daytime sequins. Sparkle and shine during the day for skirts and dresses.
BEST VENUE: Erdem’s show at The National Portrait Gallery.
SAY BYE-BYE TO: The bare shoulder. I’ve seen enough of it and it’s boring me.
Lisa Aiken, retail fashion director at Net-a-porter
FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: The highlight of the week came from Rejina Pyo, who delivered a collection full of incredibly chic, real clothes with a fashion twist. She is also gaining confidence in shoes and bags, which pushed the boundaries with her signature DNA. Roksanda’s collection was standout for its elegant use of color and unexpected combinations. While not radical departures from their signature style, I would also call out Preen, Simone Rocha, Halpern and Erdem as favorites this week.
TOP TRENDS: A common theme was the use of rich exuberant fabrics and textures, from sequins to jacquards and heavy lace, applied in a variety of ways but always a slightly undone London attitude. The heritage theme that started in New York continued with jacquard knits, checks and blanket dressing. The shift to faux fur and shearling is a particularly topical point to note at the moment. There are so many amazing alternatives out there right now, it’s no longer possible to differentiate as it walks down the runway.
MUST-HAVE ITEM: Many designers showed us that the midi dress, pant suit and trench are still set to be the cornerstones of our wardrobes.
BEST VENUE: Goldsmith’s Hall was a beautiful setting for Simone Rocha’s intricate collection.
Rebecca Tinker, buyer at Harvey Nichols
FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Bright and early on a Monday morning we were greeted by the installation created by Paris-based Caroline Denervaud, which created the perfect backdrop for Roksanda’s collection. We were delighted by the serene use of color; pastel blues and yellows transpired into buttery tans and deeper burgundies. Both sophisticated daywear and more dramatic eveningwear looks sashayed effortlessly down the runway. There were the perfect elements of textural surprise, from creamy shearlings (Look three being our favorite) to more exaggerated and expressive gowns during the final evening looks, all leaving us feeling like we were on cloud nine.
TOP TRENDS: At a time of key movements, the empowerment of women was ever-present this week. While topics that are sensitive today, it was impossible for it not to be on-trend. We saw a more sensual and softer side with brands openly celebrating the sexual power of women. Christopher Kane was not one to shy away, with every look being sexually suggestive. Our favorite was the illustration on print dresses and barely there lace pieces, just enough to leave something to the imagination. The National Portrait Gallery was the perfect setting for Erdem’s collection, which took us, the viewers, on a fairytale journey. A shift from the usual, silhouettes were sexed-up with skimpy bustiers and transparent dresses adorned with netting and mesh headwear — all a mischievous nod towards this more sensual trend. Even Roland Mouret had set out to challenge his followers this season.
MUST-HAVE ITEM: Rejina Pyo’s accessories.
BEST VENUE: Peter Pilotto, with the setting being an intimate dinner and show. Held at legendary nightclub Tramp, models wove in and out of guests’ tables. It made for a fun and surprising evening. Lavish party dressing and intricate flowing prints, all with a side of Champagne.
SAY BYE-BYE TO: We said our fashion farewells to the talented creative Christopher Bailey at Burberry. With 16 years at the helm it was an emotional and empowering tribute to both the designer and brand. We continue to watch this space.
TALENT SCOUTING: Michael Halpern. This designer has seen overnight success with his infatuating all-sequin collections. Labeled “inappropriate glamour” by the designer himself, this collection set out to blur the lines between eveningwear and daywear. Safe to say our obsession continues and we’re open to all-day-wear in Halpern.
Coco Chan, head of women’s wear at Stylebop.com
FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Christopher Kane, Erdem, Rejina Pyo, and Christopher Bailey’s farewell show for Burberry.
TOP TRENDS: Brocade and other heritage fabrics. London designers have always had a knack for turning tradition on its head and for fall this meant reinventing fabrics in fresh guises. Think brocades, jacquards, tapestries and even quilted upholstery silks. Suiting has been a runway staple for a few seasons now, and it has veered either mannish (i.e. boxy, loose) or ladylike (i.e. tailored, fussy). It was a welcome sight to see designers explore fresh possibilities that were feminine without subscribing to either of these two extremes and along the way offer fresh options for easy polish. Romantic layering: Perhaps less a trend and more of an overall mood was the turn to romantic layers. Everything — even if it was a single garment — gave the illusion of multiple components and complex parts.
MUST-HAVE ITEM: A prairie dress. We can’t give Raf Simons at Calvin Klein all the credit, as Roksanda, Erdem and more have been trafficking in this silhouette for quite some time as well. They were joined by a host of others who were drawn to its easy elegance and everyday romance. Some of the highlights included Rejina Pyo’s tartan smocks with flounced hems that looked smart without a hint of school girl.
BEST VENUE: Burlington Arcade. What better place to showcase Rejina Pyo’s terrific runway show? The 199-year-old shopping mall is rife with heritage, but it also strikes the perfect balance between Old World nostalgia and modern commerce. In a nutshell, that could be the message of the season and it’s precisely what’s made Rejina such a critically lauded — and commercially successful — breakout. Kudos.
SAY BYE-BYE TO: The Nineties. A clever reference to the 1890s is still OK.
TALENT SCOUTING: Michael Halpern never met a swathe of sequins or lamé he didn’t like and it seems fashion is catching up. Already staking his claim on the red carpet, he took it up a notch with a late Seventies/early Eighties disco diva explosion that would make Diana Ross proud. The key was all in the silhouette, which kept things firmly rooted in the present and cemented his status as the young one to watch. Less glitzy but no less exciting was Molly Goddard whose exploration of all things ruched and flounced intercepted nicely with the main message of the season and yielded some beautifully dynamic frocks.
Alexandra Gordon, women’s wear buyer at Liberty London
FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Marques’ Almeida, Ports and Roksanda.
TOP TRENDS: Layering, shearling, Eighties.
MUST-HAVE ITEM: The Marques’ Almeida x Louise Gray sweatshirt and Rejina Pyo oversize structured trench
BEST VENUE: Marques ‘Almeida, which showed in The Vaults in Vauxhall, south of the Thames.
TALENT SCOUTING: Matty Bovan has been around for a few seasons now, but his runway this season was, hands down, one of the week’s highlights for me.
Tiffany Hsu, Fashion buying director, mytheresa.com
FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Erdem was yet again an incredibly beautiful, feminine collection. The bold designs with an ethereal feel were stunning. I loved the ruched bodice top and coordinating split skirt teamed with sheer polka dot tights. Preen by Thorton Bregazzi was also a stand-out show for me – the deconstructed shearling trench teamed with bright orange accessories had a very playful approach.
TOP TRENDS: Utility coats and trenches at J.W Anderson, Preen and Rejina Pyo. Checks and men’s tailoring seen at Rejina Pyo, Roksanda, Christopher Kane, Erdem and Burberry. Shades of bold red shown at Preen, Rejina Pyo and Simone Rocha
MUST-HAVE ITEM: J.W Anderson’s oversized bags with lace detailing, from hot pink and orange croc to classic tan, they’re the new accessory to watch.
BEST VENUE: Simone Rocha’s at Goldsmith’s Hall. There is always a very special and grand feeling to it.
SAY BYE-BYE TO: What goes around comes around. Never say bye-bye to anything!
TALENT SCOUTING: It’s always exciting to see new talent come from London. I loved Halpern’s fun and disco-esque collection, and Richard Quinn, whose oversized printed puffa coats teamed with multiple scarf prints really stole the show.
Ida Petersson, women’s wear buying director, Browns
FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Richard Malone, Burberry, Matty Bovan, Roksanda and Ashish.
TOP TRENDS: Checks! Sharp suiting, club kids, puffers everywhere including scarves and unisex clothing.
MUST-HAVE ITEM: Anything with Burberry’s signature check! I’m obsessed with the archive print silk shirt from look 4.
BEST VENUE: Burberry — I would have loved to have gone to a Rave in that building. Ashish’s market stall was also genius.
SAY BYE-BYE TO: Nothing really. A few trends have evolved from last season and are still relevant to me, such as the streetwear element which doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
TALENT SCOUTING: Fashion Scout had some interesting talent.
Natalie Kingham, buying director at matchesfashion.com
FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: I’m very excited about what Richard Quinn is doing at the moment and his was quite a standout show. It was just so beautiful and he’s moved it all along so much. [His clothes] are so wearable but look so new. It’s very modern but with the feeling of an old couture house. It’s an incredible mash-up. The excitement before the show was palpable. Then the Queen arrived and presented him with his award, which had me in tears. We’re stocking Quinn for the first time this season. The [Spring 2018] collection arrived last week and has been performing well. I loved Matty Bovan. He’s such an incredible creative force and his ideas are extremely modern and Erdem was absolutely beautiful. It was such a confident collection; you can really see his DNA and handwriting in every look. I loved all the “Joy of Sex” references at Christopher Kane with all the rubber and marabou feathers.
TOP TRENDS: Clothes made of silk scarves at Matty Bovan and Toga and flashes of silk scarves in linings. The feminist mood was strong in London with Marques’ Almeida sending a powerful message to their audience of young women.
BEST VENUE: Erdem at the National Portrait Gallery and the decrepit, disused space that Michael Halpern used.
TALENT SCOUTING: I love going to Fashion East. It’s always an exciting lineup. Lulu Kennedy is so good at finding amazing talent.
Helen David, chief merchant at Harrods
STANDOUT SHOWS: Roksanda, Peter Pilotto, Natasha Zinko
TOP TRENDS: Color, quirk, and Individuality
MUST-HAVE ITEM: An oversized checked blazer, a midi length satin dress, and a ton of statement outerwear
BEST VENUE: Burberry. Between the cavernous car park, the neon light show and the Eighties music. This was a perfect bow for Bailey.
SAY BYE-BYE TO: Black. This is consistent with NY. Color dominated the London collections and black feels boring and done.
TALENT SCOUTING: Fyodor Golan and Rejina Pyo.