Lines snaked around the street outside East London’s York Hall, where the spring 2020 Richard Quinn show was set to take place, with guests waiting more than 40 minutes post the scheduled start time to be let in.
“It better be worth it” was the general consensus.
It most definitely was.
The feeling of fantasy and the grandiose were apparent from the moment you set foot in the old sport’s hall, transformed with a big crystal chandelier, blush pink carpet and arrays of flowers, next to which the Philharmonia orchestra was set up to play live.
Richard Quinn’s intention for this event was straight-forward: to put on a real show and encourage his guests to dream during these challenging times. There was no specific muse or philosophical thought process, just fashion for the sake of fashion, in its purest, most artistic form.
He telegraphed his message by dialing up the volume and the glamour, in an even bolder way than previous seasons. He super-sized the bow embellishments or the sleeves on his much-loved puff-sleeve minis; added extra layers of tulle under bold leopard print balloon dresses for an added dose of drama; mixed florals with feathers and piled up the crystals on the trims of miniature, lampshade-shaped dresses, even adding crystal tights to match.
It wasn’t practical or for the masses given the couture-level craftsmanship on most of those show pieces, but it was designed to inspire joy to those select few “working in fashion or wearing it.”
The show was divided in sections — starting with retro polka dot prints and florals, moving on to more embellished pieces, followed by a more somber section — with moments of silence in between, which created emotional build-up.
”Is the queen coming out again?” said one show attendee during the longest pause, leading up to the finale.
She didn’t, but a group of toddlers dressed in feather headpieces took to the catwalk alongside the models, including Jacquetta Wheeler, Erin O’ Connor, Jade Parfitt, Cecilia Chancellor and Jean de Villeneuve.
At the end, there was not a dry eye in the room with Billie Porter starting a standing ovation and yelling “This was epic.”
He was right and it proved the point that Quinn has been making from the get-go, that fantasy and performance is possible even when you have little resources.
“We’re in a sports hall, the clothes come from our studio under a railway arch in Peckham. But the point for me is to transport people, to create fantasy and escapism so it’s almost like a dream,” said the designer.