Hot talent Richard Quinn was always going to have the problem of outdoing himself: At last season’s show, the Queen sat in his front row and later handed him the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design.
This time around, the Queen wasn’t there, but Quinn still held his audience in thrall with a show of shimmering couture-inspired silhouettes while members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra performed live. By the end, the audience was blinking away tears.
“It was their first time playing a London Fashion Week show,” Quinn said proudly from backstage. He said he wanted classical sounds because “I was trying to react against what is going on right now with all the hard, techno music, and maybe bring it back to glamour and women feeling like women and wanting a desirable dress without feeling bad about it.”
Quinn said he wanted to push color, print and hyper-glamorous shape to the max for spring. “In these dystopian times, there is a search for the things that can light our way.”
It was a season of statements for Quinn, who also drew attention to a decline in funding and attention to arts education in the U.K. “Arts subjects are under threat in secondary schools in England, yet they are a foundation of our 32 billion pound fashion industry,” he said.
To wit, he invited teenage art pupils from the schools he had attended, as well as print students from Central Saint Martins, and their teachers, to sit in the front row and watch this classy collection with a retro mood glide by.
Quinn’s outing conjured Hitchcock ladies and “Downton Abbey” parties and showcased a variety of techniques from the designer, who’s best known for his prints. Glammed-up models wore stiletto heels, sweeping cape coats, Fifties prom styles and New Look silhouettes that were printed, embellished and embroidered with a light hand.
Large and small flowers spilled onto strapless gowns and flapper styles that were edged in sparkles or aflutter with feathers at the hem. Other flower patterns were paved with sequins and wound their way across short silk jackets and one bright belted coat dress that’s bound to be a bestseller, and light up the darkest of nights.