LONDON — It was an unusual fashion week, but London designers rose to the challenge and showed off first-rate collections, said buyers who liked the embellishment, sheer fabrics and silvery shine that was all over the runways.
The week unfurled against a backdrop of mourning for the queen, and her funeral, and designers paid tribute in all sorts of ways, with flowers, messages and nods to her style over the years.
While the queen’s death disrupted many show and travel plans, the mood during the week was remarkably buoyant. It’s clear that everyone is eager to get dressed up again and get back to business post-COVID-19.
Here, retailers from Europe and the U.S. talk about key trends, their favorite collections, and fashion moments.
Liane Wiggins, head of womenswear at Matchesfashion
Favorite collections: We loved Simone Rocha’s powerful take on femininity and the venue — the Old Bailey — felt momentous. The incredible veils, satin khaki bomber looks, tulle and sequined embroidery, as well as the strong separates, were all highlights. The footwear, bags and jewelry all felt new, and we loved the styling.
Best show format: S.S.Daley showcased his beautiful collection in the Renaissance Hotel featuring strong influences of Sissinghurst Gardens. We loved Erdem’s poignant show at the British Museum and Christopher Kane at Camden’s Roundhouse was a great location.
Top trends: Sheer and embellishments seen at Simone Rocha, Christopher Kane, Nensi Dojaka and Molly Goddard. Repair and restoration, from JW Anderson’s destroyed chainmail and Erdem’s patchwork.
Metallic and high shine at Christopher Kane and Nensi Dojaka. Statement skirts from 16Arlington, Chopova Lowena, Christopher Kane, Simone Rocha, and Erdem. New bags to watch include 16Arlington’s Kikka bag, Molly Goddard’s ruffle styles, Simone Rocha’s backpacks and S.S. Daley’s totes.
Must-have items: Simone Rocha’s khaki satin bomber, Christopher Kane’s chainmail embellished T-shirt, 16Arlington’s gray tailored crystal embellished skirt, S.S. Daley’s silk pants and Molly Goddard’s polka dot tulle dress.
New talent: Standing Ground at Fashion East, Carzana for super-interesting, deconstructed textiles, and we are excited to see more from Sinead O’Dwyer.
Impressions of the week: There were lots of fitting tributes to the queen through the medium of fashion and, as always, we are excited to see such great emerging talent continuing to come through London Fashion Week.
Rickie De Sole, women’s designer fashion and editorial director at Nordstrom
Favorite collections: Standout shows included Simone Rocha’s powerful menswear debut alongside a breathtaking collection of sublime romantic frocks; JW Anderson’s fun and unexpected collection; Erdem’s divinely intricate gowns; Nensi Dojaka’s updated take on sophisticated sexiness; Molly Goddard’s colorful finale was sheer happiness.
Top trends: This season we saw a lot of skin on the runways, with a celebration of the body and dressing for all shapes. Boldness for spring is here with the continuation of bright colors that we saw in New York as well as Space-Age silver and party-ready embellishments. We also saw a delicate side to the collections in London: dainty florals and soft patterns, tulle layering, pastel hues and ethereal embroideries.
Must-have items: A JW Anderson slipdress.
New talent: We loved Chopova Lowena’s first runway show as well as S.S. Daley’s strong showing on the heels of his LVMH Prize win.
Impressions of the week: There was a great display of creativity in London this season and strong BFC support for cultivating new talent. Tributes to the monarchy were shared by designers and guests throughout fashion week with heartfelt appreciation for the queen’s dedication to the arts.
Bosse Myhr, director of womenswear and menswear at Selfridges
Favorite collections: Simone Rocha and Christopher Kane both showed exceptional, standout collections. Simone launching menswear is also an exciting new step.
Best show format: It was great to see designers opting to host their shows in iconic London buildings for the first time. Simone Rocha’s choice of the Old Bailey courthouse and JW Anderson’s gaming arcade were highlights. We were very proud to be able to provide a platform for Newgen designers, hosting their shows in The Old Selfridges [hotel].
Top trends: There was a distinct theme of bridal looks throughout the shows, Molly Goddard’s gown was a significant highlight. The theme of formal menswear tailoring and dressing up is still very much present.
Must-have item: A party dress! It was great to see examples of these from the three designers at Fashion East; Jawara Alleyne, Karoline Vitto and Standing Ground. Nensi Dojaka also presented beautiful eveningwear, along with David Koma and Christopher Kane.
New talent: The Fashion East designers Karoline Vitto, Jawara Alleyne and Standing Alone all showed very promising collections.
Impressions of the week: Despite obvious challenges that this weekend presented, London Fashion Week has been brilliant. It looked strong and very creative. It has been great to see the city show up and support designers and their creativity.
Simon Longland, head of men’s and womenswear at Harrods
Favorite collections: Erdem’s exploration and homage to the art of restoration was beautiful. A collection almost entirely built from dresses, in varied silhouettes, proportions and inspiration made for a supremely elegant showcase. His interpretation of the whole-hearted dedication, attention to detail and workmanship that goes into the art of restoration was clear throughout the collection, each piece a passionate masterclass of the age-old practice.
Best show format: Tying together the source of inspiration and execution of the collection, Erdem’s show, set outside under the grand portico of the British Museum, was beautiful.
Top trends: We saw the continuation of many of the autumn/winter trends and silhouettes that have proven so successful. Embellishment in all forms — sequins, crystals, embroidery and feathers — was incredibly present. As always, 16Arlington, Halpern, Huishan Zhang and Erdem were masters of the craft, building the perfect party wardrobe, no matter the season.
Denim and lace played a huge part, both as hero pieces on their own and paired with mixed fabrications — always extremely versatile for our customers come next season. It was great to see Huishan Zhang experiment with denim, we also saw some really strong pieces from JW Anderson, David Koma and Molly Goddard.
Volume continues to be present across many collections, with Simone Rocha leading the way with the introduction of menswear and next season’s must-have bomber jacket. It was great to see 16Arlington, JW Anderson, Erdem and Halpern bring this element into their collections, adding depth and texture.
Must-have item(s): Simone Rocha’s oversized bomber jacket in men’s and women’s. I expect to see this everywhere come spring; 16Arlington’s feather coats are the perfect addition to every party wardrobe; Erdem’s bodice dresses were supremely elegant, and a style I expect to resonate well with our clients.
Impressions of the week: Despite an abbreviated schedule, there was a sense of optimism and energy in the collections shown, and really pleasing to see so many outstanding shows in our own city. The collections we saw this week built on motifs and signatures we saw in fall and I look forward to seeing this further develop in the coming weeks.
Jodi Kahn, vice president of luxury fashion at Neiman Marcus
Favorite collections: This season, we saw standout collections from 16Arlington, Erdem, S.S. Daley, and JW Anderson. Marco Capaldo championed his late wife’s legacy at 16Arlington. Typically known for party dressing, 16Arlington presented a full lifestyle collection with the perfect amount of glam and embellishment. The color palette was more muted, but feminine — think pale blue and shades of purple. There was a bit of edge with the use of snakeskin print.
S.S. Daley’s collection was a nod to the ’20s and ’30s. As the LVMH Prize winner this year, Steven presented a poetic collection with a moving performance that dramatized the love letters between Vita Sackville West and Violet Trefusis. The casting was impressive and diverse.
JW Anderson set the scene in an arcade while showing us an interpretation of how modern technology impacts our lives through fashion. The collection portrayed his avant-garde designs showcasing garments meant to mimic TV screens and computer keyboards — quite the sight to see.
Erdem presented a sophisticated yet cheerful collection at the British Museum, featuring artful prints in different textures and fabrications, including delicate lace. The corsetry, fabrications and full skirts used were a beautiful representation of the brand ethos. There was a soft, romantic use of color throughout the show. Yellow continues to be the stand-out color of the season along with shades of orange.
New talent: Nensi Dojaka presented a standout collection by incorporating different fabrications from previous seasons. It was alluring yet refined with soft pinks, lace and feminine details. Fashion East debuted two new brands this season. Karoline Vitto’s inclusive collection celebrated all types of women featuring designs with artful cutouts and drawstring accents.
Must-have item(s): Anything with bold colors. There were a lot of strong pieces this season that will encourage the wearer to be a more adventurous with their style choices.
Impressions of the week: It was quite meaningful to attend London Fashion Week during such a monumental time that will be remembered throughout history. There was a feeling of camaraderie among the show attendees and many brands paid special tribute to Her Majesty the Queen, including S.S. Daley, Halpern and JW Anderson, which was quite moving to witness. While there was an overall somber mood, the fashion community came together to celebrate and support the brands and their new designs for spring 2023.
Marc Rofsky, Moda Operandi director of buying, ready-to-wear
Favorite collection: The London collections were set against the poignant weight of the queen’s passing, but did not lack in the creativity and optimism we have come to expect. Erdem was a standout — the antique-inspired prints and embroideries applied to modern, streamlined silhouettes were exquisite. We loved to see the exciting evolution of 16Arlington, which fused cool-girl edge with signature party dresses and sparkle. Nensi Dojaka again impresses us, offering more texture and range in her signature showstopping dresses.
Best show format: Harris Reed opened the week with a tall order, meeting the moment with the theatrical and creative splendor that British fashion is loved for. The setting of Erdem — held at dusk beneath the giant columns of the British Museum, where the British flag was flown at half-mast — provided a poignant backdrop for the exquisite beauty of the show. The weight of history could be felt both there and within the collection itself, which was inspired by art restoration and centuries-old work. Halpern opened the show with the first look being a silent homage to Queen Elizabeth II, complete with a signature blue headscarf.
Top trends: From New York to London we are noticing an “oceana” theme continue to take shape, evoking images of an aquatic siren: from iridescent sequins at 16Arlington to more literal starfish and seashell embroidery and motifs at David Koma — it’s all about an otherworldly and ethereal glamour. A beautiful developing trend in eveningwear could be seen in designer’s use of transparent layers at Emilia Wickstead, who overlaid hand-painted silk with printed organza to create a stunning “blurred’ floral effect. Utility continues to appear in new, feminine ways from Simone Rocha’s parachute strap details, to Erdem’s d-ring belts. We saw a continuation of animal prints that appeared in New York, from leopard at Halpern to python at 16Arlington, and a trend we are calling not-your-mother’s lace, which evoked a romantic sensuality at Nensi Dojaka and Yuhan Wang.
Must-have items: 16Arlington had no shortage of crystal-swathed hits, but look 27 — a high-neck ankle-length sheath — is a clear winner for us. Its silhouette boasts universal appeal, offering multiple age groups the opportunity to embrace the look for spring and summer party season. We also loved the novelty bombers at Simone Rocha and Erdem’s refined bustier tops.
Impressions of the week: London continues to deliver on creativity, with a focus on fabulous evening.
Libby Page, market director at Net-a-porter
Favorite collection: Nensi Dojaka. It was by far her best collection yet. It’s always moving to see that when a designer wins the LVMH Prize, the funding that they are able to put into their collections really shines through. This was Nensi’s most developed collection we have seen, with new colors, fabrics and shapes taking her collections to the next level. The development of separates with her kitsch but cool hearts, sequins and bright shots of lilac, pink and red were some key callouts.
Best show format: JW Anderson’s set brought the nostalgia: it was located in a colorful arcade in the heart of Soho next to the brand’s flagship. It felt lighthearted and a bit of fun. We saw Emily Ratajkowski working a slouched oversized look, and the show wrapped up by paying homage to the queen with a simple yet effective graphic T-shirt saying “thank you.”
Erdem’s setting at the British Museum was also incredibly powerful. The guests all sat outside, underneath the breathtaking pillars and with perfect timing the rain started as soon as the show was over.
Top trends: Trophy dressing is a key mood this season. Halpern, Nensi Dojaka and 16Arlington all took to crystals to catch the eyes of the audience. High hemlines, bralettes and cropped tops were also prevalent during London Fashion Week, with designers not being afraid to show some skin for spring. Christopher Kane, JW Anderson, Erdem and Simone Rocha all showcased this in their own way.
Must-have items: A trophy dress. I particularly loved the multicolored sequin styles at Halpern.
New talent: Fashion East showcased a great selection of new designers, which we cannot wait to see more of in the showroom.