LONDON — Buyers from Europe and America braved the wind, rain — and Storm Dennis — to attend London Fashion Week, and said the fall-winter shows more than made up for the dreary weather. Not only did London’s longstanding labels, such as JW Anderson, Victoria Beckham and Simone Rocha, wow retailers, emerging ones also caught their eye.
“Despite the gloomy skies and torrential downpour, London Fashion Week was a ray of sunshine,” said Roopal Patel, fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue. “We saw the London designers who first began showing 10 years ago deliver a powerful lineup this year, confirming that London is as strong as ever.”
Lisa Aiken, fashion director at Moda Operandi, said the strongest collections “focused on refining their aesthetic — Christopher Kane, Emilia Wickstead, JW Anderson, Richard Quinn and Simone Rocha.”
While the coronavirus prevented many Asian retailers, press and guests from attending the shows, it failed to dampen the mood in London, where designers worked on new sustainability initiatives. At Tommy Hilfiger, 75 percent of the collection was sustainably sourced, while Matty Bovan used Fiorucci dead stock to make his collection. Roland Mouret set a goal to be carbon neutral within the year, and Burberry staged its second carbon-neutral runway show.
“We’re trying to push everything, using modern fabrics — recycled, cotton and denim, organic cotton, plant-based fabrics. All our down is vegan and we just got an award for all the vegan shoes and boots we do,” said Lewis Hamilton of his collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger.
Anya Hindmarch created a new style called “I Am a Plastic Bag,” made from a new type of fabric derived from recycled plastic bottles and coated with recycled plastic windshields. The designer also shut her London stores for three days over London Fashion Week and filled them with more than 90,000 used plastic bottles collected from local communities.
Brands pushed their own design boundaries, with bits and pieces of men’s wear popping up all over the London runways. Molly Goddard, Roland Mouret, Richard Quinn and Rejina Pyo interspersed men’s wear into their shows. Mouret said he wanted to send a message of inclusivity, and argued that his men’s clothes were just larger versions of women’s styles, while Goddard said her fiancé has been asking her to make men’s clothing.
Their offers were small, though, and buyers said they’ll need to wait for the men’s collections to reach a certain size before considering whether to buy them. However, Heather Gramston, head of women’s wear buying at Browns, is betting big on it. “Over the past few seasons we’ve noticed that women are coming into our store purchasing men’s wear. We opened Browns East store as a gender-neutral space with both men’s wear and women’s wear situated on one rail and the reaction from our customers has been amazing,” she said.
Here, a roundup of retailers’ highlights from the London season.
Lisa Aiken, fashion director, Moda Operandi
Favorite collections: All of the strongest collections this season focused on refining their aesthetic: Christopher Kane, Emilia Wickstead, JW Anderson, Molly Goddard, Erdem, Richard Quinn and Simone Rocha.
Best venue: One of my favorite things about LFW is bringing the culture of the city into the industry through locations; however, I would say that increasingly format is more important to representing a brand’s vision. Molly Goddard was the perfect example of that. While the venue in Westminster was impressive, her personality — and therefore the brand — came through in the casual, intimate seating and table setting.
Top trends: The best thing about London talent is the designers are so creative and every one is an individualist, so overarching trends become less relevant. That said, many shows this week had a feeling of appealing to the “minimalist with a twist.” We see a lot of incredible development in knitwear, while unexpected volume continues to be a unifying element in London, revealing necklines and cut-outs have shown up in most collections this season, as have new approaches to tailoring.
Must-have item: An interesting take on a black dress, whether that’s through the lens of JW Anderson, Molly Goddard or Victoria Beckham. We have come back to real wardrobe dressing.
Has the coronavirus at all impacted your buy? While it has certainly impacted the season overall and is an issue the industry is incredibly conscious of, it will not affect Moda Operandi’s merchandising strategy or investment levels this season. Our business is focused on the U.S., and driving a strong fashion point of view in the region.
Tiffany Hsu, fashion buying director, MyTheresa
Favorite collections: Simone Rocha, JW Anderson and Richard Quinn are my personal favorites.
Best venue: The net installation at Roksanda, which was suspended over the heads of the audience, was amazing.
Top trends: I would say mainly maximalism, the layering of different texture, cut-outs and heavily embellished footwear.
Emerging talents: In terms of labels to watch I would include Charlotte Knowles. I have been following her for a while and this season the collection was very mature and easy to wear. I love the bodycon Nineties sensibility. Besides this, Nensi Dojaka‘s debut collection with Fashion East really stood out: I liked the minimalistic aesthetic — it is both sexy and very masculine at the same time. Petar Petrov is not a new name but it was the brand’s first ever show in London. His tailoring skills are exceptional — all pieces fit just perfectly.
Must-have item: I loved the accessories at JW Anderson: The fluffy ballerina flats, chain loafers and new chain detail bags are right on point. In terms of shoes, I also think that Simone Rocha‘s pearl brogues and MM6 Maison Margiela‘s Western boots with chains will perform very well.
Heather Gramston, head of women’s wear buying, Browns
Favorite collections: Molly Goddard, Simone Rocha and LVMH Prize nominee Yuhan Wang’s first stand-alone show.
Best venue: Victoria Beckham’s show at the Banqueting House Whitehall — wow, what a venue.
Top trends: Plaid on plaid as seen on Victoria Beckham and Burberry and women’s brands showing men’s wear at Rejina Pyo, Molly Goddard, Richard Quinn.
Talent scouting: Fashion East was exceptionally strong this season and we love supporting and nurturing homegrown talent.
Must-have item: Supersize outerwear at JW Anderson and MM6 x The North Face.
What are you saying goodbye to? What are we not saying goodbye to? The tailoring trend isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Oversize tailoring with woven ribbon details at Simone Rocha and sharp tailoring at Victoria Beckham and Burberry were personal highlights.
Chloe King, fashion office and digital fashion lead, Bergdorf Goodman
Favorite collections: The show of the week was JW Anderson, who managed to dance between trim tailoring and a massively inflated metallic tinsel dress with total confidence. Victoria Beckham shines in making chic clothes that real women want to wear, and Simone Rocha’s dark romance evolved but continues to allure.
Emerging talents: London does not disappoint in its reputation for experimental and ambitious fashion — well-made clothing for both the adventurous and demure. Petar Petrov was a particularly exciting show as we proudly added him to the BG family this spring, bringing our robust group of British brands to 14.
Top trends: After New York and London, I think it’s safe to say that black is back! Brown is also a key color for fall, with lots of ways to try — from textured layers to cocktail dressing. Leather and vegan leather remain important, we’re still liking balloon sleeves, and capes creeping in to the outerwear assortment. Despite crisis in both politics and climate change, there were sequins and shine on almost every runway in London. A defiance to keep spirits up, a counterpoint to all of the anxiety of everyday life.
Roopal Patel, fashion director, Saks Fifth Avenue
Favorite collections: Natalia Alaverdian at A.W.A.K.E Mode sent fresh ideas down the runway that translated into a standout collection. Emilia Wickstead’s feminine touches on monochromatic looks were alluring and graceful. Erdem’s Victorian beauty was poetic and dreamy. We also saw incredible collections from Simone Rocha and JW Anderson. Other favorites of mine were Victoria Beckham, Burberry and Rejina Pyo.
Top trends: Clean lines, monochromatic dressing in shades of beige and winter whites, lace, silver and sequins.
Talent scouting: Petar Petrov opened up London Fashion Week and proved to be a standout of the week.
Must-have item: Any of this season’s head-to-toe beige looks.
What are you saying goodbye to? Streetwear and casual style. Fall is all about getting dressed up and looking smart.
Joseph Tang, women’s fashion director, Holt Renfrew
Favorite collections: Victoria Beckham showed a variety of designs done in refined silhouettes and heritage fabrications. From shorter tailored jackets to the easy black cocktail dresses that opened the show, there’s a great offering of pieces for our customer to covet this season. Simone Rocha presented a romantic and dramatic collection of beautiful cream layered lace dresses and voluminous embroidered skirts. Riccardo Tisci at Burberry continues to infuse his design codes into the house with updated iterations of the trench coat and more evening wear options.
Best venue: The raised mirrored catwalk at Burberry featuring a grand piano performance in the middle of the runway.
Top trends: Men’s inspired tailoring done in classic men’s wear fabrications — plaid knits and suiting are reinterpreted in modern and sophisticated proportions. Rich neutral tones continue to dominate the collections, with thick knits done in soft creams or tonal shades of camel cashmere. Oversize outerwear — from mackintoshes to enveloping trench coats, oversize toppers are perfect for all of the layered silhouettes we’ve seen.
Must-have item: The mackintosh coat from Victoria Beckham, the Irish wool pearl embroidered sweaters from Simone Rocha and any of the off-the-shoulder trench coats from Burberry in shearling or mixed media plaids.
Lydia King, fashion director, Harrods
Favorite collections: So many to choose from. We are launching a few new to Harrods, brands whose collections were just outstanding including Simone Rocha, Huishan Zhang and A.W.A.K.E.
From our existing core brands, I thought Halpern was outstanding for the ultimate glamorous eveningwear dressing and the Victoria Beckham show was really strong for gothic chic, elegant new dresses and updated tailoring. Petar Petrov’s debut show for LFW was strong and kickstarted the whole weekend.
Best venue: Roksanda had a beautiful setting in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with a front row line up including Cate Blanchett, Vanessa Redgrave and Joely Richardson. Molly Goddard sat everyone down at a banquet setting which created a warm environment amid Storm Dennis raging outside.
Top trends: Turn up the glamour with sequins and embellishment as seen on Halpern and Huishan Zhang. Another trend is white and cream — so many designers showcased head-to-toe white and cream looks, Simone Rocha was the best example of this blended together and Roland Mouret’s all-white look.
Must-have item: MM6 x The North Face collaboration will be one of the hottest coats for next season and is new to Harrods. Tailoring with a twist; Peter Petrov’s tie front suit jackets in black and beige had a huge response when we featured them on our social channels.
What are you saying goodbye to? Floral prints.
Tyler Franch, fashion director, Hudson’s Bay
Favorite collections: My favorite collections were JW Anderson, Simone Rocha and Erdem.
Best venue: Roksanda showed at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and commissioned an art installation by Rana Begum exploring the tension between the subtle movements around us, our perception of color and light and their effect on us.
Top trends: Top trends include leather, dramatic sleeves, chunky and novel knits, monochromatic dressing, sartorial tailoring, metallics, new volumes and combat and tall boots.
Talent scouting: It’s always a pleasure to meet with the young fashion students of London when given the opportunity. Canadian Stephanie Moscall-Varey for Moskal was chosen as one of 10 women’s wear designers to be featured in the LCF runway presentation earlier this week thanks to her unique approach to develop a sustainable leather like fabric made from charcoal foam. She strikes me as one to watch.
Must-have item: Anything from J.W. Anderson’s new take on glamour.
What are you saying goodbye to? The focus is not just around the Nineties anymore, but more about mixing elements from different eras to create more complex looks, from Seventies rich color tones to bold Eighties metallics to strong Fifties and Sixties silhouettes.
Elizabeth von der Goltz, global buying director, Net-a-Porter
Favorite collections: JW Anderson, Emilia Wickstead and Simone Rocha are always highlights in London, and this season was no different. We were also blown away by Richard Quinn – the epitome of modern couture and clearly identifiable in his trademark prints.
Best venue: LFW always brings the most iconic cultural venues – from Simone Rocha’s iconic Lancaster House location to Burberry showing modern equestrian chic at Kensington Olympia – ironically the home of the Horse Show, as well as Victoria Beckham at Banqueting House, Whitehall and Roksanda in the Foreign and Commonwealth office.
We also loved the set-up of Molly Goddard’s show, where we were sat in a relaxed banquet style whilst enjoying her iconic tulle and taffeta silhouettes floating by.
Top trends: Firstly we’ve noticed a couture sensibility in many shows where designers have been inspired by couture like craftsmanship – as seen at Richard Quinn, Simone Rocha and Molly Goddard. And also the continuation of lux twists on classics, as demonstrated at JW Anderson, Petar Petrov and A.W.A.K.E. Mode. And the inclusion of men’s wear within women’s wear.
Talent scouting: We loved Petar Petrov’s debut runway collection consisting of beautiful, wearable, chic clothes that will fit seamlessly into our woman’s wardrobe. We have supported Petar for a few seasons now but it’s so exciting to see him developing into a runway brand this season.
Must-have item: Eithera coat from JW Anderson or AWAKE Mode or a JW Anderson chain bag!
Favorite collections: I loved the voluminous occasion wear teamed with flats from JW Anderson, Matty Bovan is always a highlight and this season’s joyful show didn’t disappoint, Molly Goddard continues to show us her breadth as a designer and Symonds Pearmain perfected the art of ‘layering’.
Best venue: Simone Rocha’s venue, Lancaster House served as the perfect backdrop for the show
Top trends: Supersized outerwear from JW Anderson and heavy shoes
Talent scouting: Fashion East is such a great platform for creativity and each season goes from strength to strength, Nensi Dojaka was a key highlight.
Must-have item: Victoria Beckham’s over the knee platform boots.
What are you saying goodbye to? I’m saying goodbye to lilac.