LONDON — Boris Johnson may have a plan to ease lockdown through the spring and summer, but London’s designers were miles ahead of Britain’s prime minister. In the darkest days of lockdown 3.0, London’s talents were already making clothes for better days ahead.
“It’s clear designers are enthusiastic for the post-lockdown world,” said Maria Milano, head of women’s wear at Harrods, pointing to a shift toward “sexy tailoring, sparking excitement for a return to normality.”
Linda Fargo, senior vice president of the fashion office and director of women’s fashion and store presentation at Bergdorf Goodman, put it another way. “God bless the Brits! In spite of, or because of it all, there’s still so much optimism. London could have easily swung into its dark toughness and punk, but instead we got romance, whimsy and playfulness.”
Liberty, too, could sense a lightness in the air. “Brace yourselves for a return to the mini skirt,” said LinLi Teh, the store’s head of buying for fashion and accessories. “There have been a lot of rising hemlines with the optimism we are feeling.”
London Fashion Week was a coed, all-digital affair this season as the country remains in full lockdown, with restrictions only starting to lift gradually from later next month.
Buyers pre-shopped the collections, watched films and videos on demand and struck deals with designers and brands that didn’t necessarily show on the schedule this season. To wit, Selfridges launched a collection of coats by Bethany Williams made from vintage and antique wool blankets.
“London is always relevant and still a great hub for many young emerging designers to express their creativity and to be celebrated for it,” said Tiffany Hsu, fashion buying director of Mytheresa.
Among the presentations and collections that buyers name checked were Burberry for its new twist on outerwear; Emilia Wickstead for fine tailoring; Molly Goddard’s Fair Isle fiesta and Roksanda’s color combos and collaboration with the Redgrave family on a short film. Here, they discuss their highlights.
Mia Young, chief merchant, Lane Crawford
Favorite collections: Aries. We love this cheeky men’s streetwear brand that has a cult-like following. Aries continuously captures fans with colorful tie-dye and graphic iterations.
Kiko Kostadinov is another men’s brand with a cult-like following. His attention to detail, cut and fabric to create modern technical pieces are fantastic.
JW Anderson’s playful and whimsical men’s and women’s collection, with a strong commercial offering, made us smile. In addition to his signature draping technique, Jonathan played a little more with proportions – i.e., cropped silhouettes.
Top trends: Conceptual silhouettes with a play on proportions — i.e., cropped jackets.
Must-have item: JW Anderson’s draped volume trench coat and cropped shearling jacket.
Are your budgets up or down? Budgets are up on the collections we loved.
Bosse Myhr, director of women’s wear and men’s wear, Selfridges
Favorite collections: We were so thrilled to work with Bethany Williams this season to launch her incredible collection of coats made from upcycled vintage blankets. Other highlights included Nicholas Daley and 16Arlington, who continue to prove that there can be a laid-back ease to dressing up.
Best presentations/films: The Saul Nash film really was just beautiful. From the clothes to the music, everything felt so authentic to Saul and his vision.
Top trends: Coats, separates, and wardrobing are the trends that we are looking to for fall-winter ’21.
Must-have items: A Bethany Williams coat and Molly Goddard cardigan.
Federica Montelli, head of fashion, Rinascente
Favorite collections: Burberry’s men’s show, with its ongoing reinterpretation of outerwear with trenches, the updated varsity jackets, the patchworks that felt fresh and traditional. I also loved the overall genderless inspiration with pleated kilts.
Molly Goddard for a playful collection that managed to mix those recognizable standout pieces with more casual and easy-to-wear tailored pieces paired with a touch of raw denim and heritage knitwear.
Emilia Wickstead for polished and timeless silhouettes; Bianca Saunders for tactile focus in fabrics and the second collaboration with Wrangler; Eftychia and its timeless collection that matches comfort with classy elegance and an earthy palette.
I also appreciated Tod’s collaboration with Central Saint Martins in which students reinterpreted Tod’s most iconic pieces.
Best presentations/films: Church’s modern interpretation of Shakespeare’s “To be or not to be” play, reconnecting with its English roots; Art School’s inclusive and diverse collection, starring an equally diverse cast; Marques’Almeida’s “Apple Photobooth” format and its collection that always feels young and colorful, featuring the singer and rapper Nenny.
Top trends: Tailoring is still a focus for designers nowadays, in line with the need for timeless pieces with unique high-quality features, and adaptable fits. Casual looks and pieces are perceived as essential for the strength of a collection in this moment, given the changed perspective of people over the last year, thus denim and knit touches are the easiest way to connect with consumers.
A sort of need for escapism was in the collections through a series of joyful and fresh prints and shades that try to reconnect people with happy moments and places. Volumes and new ways to adapt clothes to different body shapes and silhouettes remain a big trend for the moment.
Must-have items: A varsity jacket and pleated kilt from Burberry men’s collection; a tartan piece paired with raw denim and knit vest from Molly Goddard; a crop top and skirt set by Emilia Wickstead; a pair of denim from Bianca Saunders’ collaboration with Wrangler.
Arielle Siboni, ready-to-wear fashion director, Bloomingdale’s
Favorite collections: The bright colors and unexpected color blocking at Roksanda, Fair Isle sweaters paired with plaid skirts at Molly Goddard; tailoring and eveningwear paired with flats at Emilia Wickstead.
Top trends: Color blocking, tailoring and leather sportswear are some of the top trends that will excite our Bloomingdale’s customers next season. Designers also gave us prints and patterns with energy and character, including dark ground florals, punk rock plaids, Fair Isle and mixed prints.
Must-have items: An embroidered sweater and herringbone trench at Preen caught my eye, along with the floral crop top and ball skirt at Emilia Wickstead. The oversize knit sets at Joseph and the mixed stripe turtleneck and cardigan at Colville are also must-have items.
Justin Berkowitz, men’s fashion director, Bloomingdale’s
Favorite collections: I loved the collections from emerging designers Priya Ahluwalia and Nicholas Daley. Ahluwalia does a wonderful job pushing the conversation around sustainability into the slightly unexpected space of streetwear, and her reworked track suits are just incredible.
Daley has an incredibly consistent point of view and such an eye for special fabrics and prints. Riccardo Tisci’s latest collection for Burberry was full of nods to English country culture and great for every single eccentric tweak he made to it.
Best presentations/films: I loved Ahluwalia’s short film as it was stunningly shot and featured a gorgeous musical performance. I was instantly transported to another place while watching it.
Must-have item: When Burberry does novel takes on foul weather gear, you invest. For me it’s a toss-up between one of the spliced macs, and the TB monogram umbrella in look two.
Maria Milano, head of women’s wear, Harrods
Favorite collections: Emilia Wickstead was a highlight for creating a real sense of occasion, and dressing it up to the nines. From crop tops and sleek skirt combos, to sculpted jackets and form-fitting layers, it’s clear designers are enthusiastic for the post-lockdown world, and I know Harrods’ customers will relate and welcome the shift.
Best presentations/films: Roksanda’s poetic short starring the Redgrave dynasty was a standout, a masterpiece that offered an intimate insight into a lockdown family connection, all while presenting a collection of richly colored gowns and considered silhouettes. It provided both a nostalgic and hopeful perspective on this surreal time we are living through.
Top trends: In contrast to the seismic shift toward leisurewear over the last 12 months, we’ve seen a huge influx of sexy tailoring this season, sparking excitement for a return to normality. From a chic leather iteration from Temperley to Roksanda going bold with striking color pairings, we will undoubtedly see this trend taking us from afternoon to after-hours.
Must-have items: Forget suiting for work, fashion tailoring is where it’s at, whether it’s a color-block ensemble from Roksanda or a shoulder-baring shift at Emilia Wickstead.
Heather Gramston, head of women’s wear, Browns
Favorite collections: Eftychia, Molly Goddard and Yuhan Wang. I’m also looking forward to firm favorite Simone Rocha.
Best presentations/films: We loved 16Arlington, who managed to capture the spirit of the brand and got us excited to be dressing up again.
Top trends: Going-out vibes, with tulle, at Molly Goddard and maximalism with the feather trims at 16Arlington.
Must-have item: I absolutely love the argyle twin set from Molly Goddard.
Are your budgets up or down? Our budgets are up and as always, we’re keen to support London talent.
Tiffany Hsu, fashion buying director, Mytheresa
Favorite collection: Simone Rocha is a personal favorite. Her collections possess an otherworldly beauty that remains captivating season after season.
Best presentation/film: It is difficult to name just one in particular. Overall, the digital formats were very creative and beautifully executed.
Top trends: Optimism, youth and mixed media — we saw a lot of crafts, different textures and prints.
Must-have item: The cut-out dresses by Nensi Dojaka are really bold and unique.
LinLi Teh, head of buying for fashion and accessories, Liberty
Best presentations/films: The Roksanda film was particularly emotional — she has a great eye for detail. Weaving a poetic story, exploring the relationship between three generations and voiced by a matriarch facing her twilight years really hit home after a difficult year. I particularly loved the quiet emotion that bubbled throughout with a fabulous supporting cast of billowing silks, rustling through the woodlands.
Simone Rocha and Erdem put on such striking presentations with the essence of their brands at the forefront of all that they do. JW Anderson is always a favorite of mine and was much missed this year.
Top trends: The mood felt quite somber with tentative steps toward more vibrant prints and colors. Lots of block colors with discreet flashes of detail, revealing skin, pattern, subtle shimmers — a reemergence of sorts after hibernation. One thing that never fails to fluctuate, however, are hemlines. Brace yourselves for a return to the mini skirt. There have been lots of rising hemlines with the optimism we are feeling!
Must-have item: A statement knit — be that oversize, Fair Isle, block colored — we’ll all need one for AW21 to layer over our minis or as a soft counterpoint to the more tailored pieces we will be moving toward.
Are your budgets up or down? We’re optimistic. Consumer habits have shifted so rapidly over the past 12 months it’s not so much a change in budgets as a change in mind-set. Our routines and expectations of our work-life balance have been altered so dramatically that the way we buy our collections has to reflect this.
Linda Fargo, senior vice president of the fashion office and director of women’s fashion and store presentation, Bergdorf Goodman
Favorite collections: God bless the Brits! In spite or because of it all, there’s still so much optimism! London could have easily swung into its dark toughness and punk, but instead we got romance, whimsy and playfulness. Or even put it all together. Why not? Simone Rocha was a standout collection. There were even numerous messages and symbols of love. Fashion can be, simply put, fun!
Top trends: Whereas New York leaned into luxed-up practicality and comfort, London is ready to dress up, like actually wear “dresses,” the longer the better. [The city] lived up to its love of experimental, historical hybrids and gender osmosis. The bigger volumes, incredible, almost couture-esque extravagances and stylistic and material mashups stood out. There were more, unexpected happy color mixes here, too, and a ‘seasons-without-borders approach.’ We’ve managed to spot a couple of new designers too, thanks to all the virtual coverage, and are already setting up some new appointments.
Libby Page, senior market editor, Net-a-porter
Favorite collections: We loved Molly Goddard, Harris Reed, Maximilian Davis and Simone Rocha.
Best presentations/films: I loved Emilia Wickstead’s presentation film, where she used a fuchsia backdrop to present a ’90s-inspired collection.
Top trends: So far we have seen key trends such as joyful dressing, country chic and all dressed down (with a particular focus on knitwear) emerge from London Fashion Week.
Must-have items: I loved JW Anderson’s new Chain Hobo bag that we saw for pre-collection. And always a Molly Goddard tulle dress.
Natalie Kingham, global fashion officer, Matchesfashion
Favorite collection: I loved Emilia Wickstead’s reinterpretation of eveningwear and the elements of relaxed elegance throughout the collection. It’s a true reflection of how women want to dress now.
Best presentations/films: Art School’s “Ascension” was a celebration of representation and diversity. I was so proud to be a part of the show and we’re so pleased to continue to celebrate the brand as part of our Innovators program.
Top trends: There was a sense of wearability throughout the collections at London Fashion Week. A wonderful mix of desirable and versatile pieces from the likes of Bianca Saunders, Emilia Wickstead, Roksanda, Simone Rocha and Ahluwalia, who has just been announced as the winner of Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design — we couldn’t be more pleased for her.
Must-have item: Matty Bovan is always a highlight, each piece from the collection is a must-have.
Roopal Patel, senior vice president, fashion director, Saks Fifth Avenue
Favorite collections: Victoria Beckham, A.W.A.K.E Mode, Simone Rocha, Erdem, Molly Goddard, Emilia Wickstead, and Tove.
Best presentations/films: Erdem, Simone Rocha, and Emilia Wickstead presented inspiring short films that made us feel like we were at fashion week, without physically being there. It was incredibly inspiring to see designers’ efforts to continue the spirit of London Fashion Week through presentations of look books and videos, despite everything going on in the world. Many brands added a personal touch by hosting one-on-one walkthroughs of their showrooms that gave us an intimate look at the collections and allowed us to feel connected to the designers.
Top trends: We saw modern takes on goth punk, utility-inspired looks, jumpsuits, full skirts, leather, and updated quilting and knit styles.
Must-have items: The military-inspired jackets from Victoria Beckham’s collection.