Another London Fashion Week came and went last month; one of the most manic yet exciting weeks in the UK fashion industry, which takes place on a bi-annual basis. Sometimes it feels as though fashion week is every week; aside from the two main shows which span over a month across four cities in February and September – spring/summer and autumn/winter – many designers also present pre-season collections such as Resort and Cruise shows, as well as Haute Couture and Men’s collections in between. It’s a whirlwind, no doubt, and often difficult to keep up, but it’s a true reflection of the fast-paced nature of the fashion industry.
Although it seems absurd to present an autumn show in the months leading up to summer – it’s important to consider that, not only is it always summer somewhere, but it’s also very necessary for the media as well as fashion buyers to be an entire season ahead of the game. Also, autumn collections are often riddled with pieces we can incorporate into our wardrobes even in the warmer months.
A few years ago, an autumn show meant we had to wait several months to see those pieces manifest themselves in store, however, these days, designers are increasingly introducing a “see now, buy now” concept, which means that the pieces shown on the runway are available with immediate effect. It’s an indicator, as well as a result of our culture of immediacy and, particularly in the world of fashion, many of our favourite shops have an incredibly high turnover rate and are able to produce mass amounts of clothing very quickly!
In fact, data provided to BoF; The Business of Fashion, by analytics platform Edited, which tracked global sales on the e-commerce sites of the designers that delivered “shoppable” shows, namely, Burberry, Ralph Lauren and Topshop Unique, demonstrated that several items from these collections sold out completely in the hours following the runway shows. This means that the trends that are presented to the general public for autumn 2017 will more than likely make their way to the high-street much earlier than would have been expected once upon a time.
All other fashion capitals that host fashion week; New York, Milan and Paris, have their own recognisable and distinctive attributes that make them unique. London Fashion Week is renowned for its eccentricity, its sense of fun and creativity, as well as the myriad of experimental designers, who wow us time and time again with their relentless imaginations and innovation in fashion.
Amazingly, more than half the designers showing at London Fashion Week this year, were born outside of the UK, not excluding our very own Gabriella Sardeña, whose creations were part of Central Saint Martin’s MA show. This statistic clearly underlines the overwhelmingly global appeal of this event; probably the most diverse fashion week out of “the big four”.
Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief, Anna Wintour, described London Fashion Week’s collections as “a celebration of diversity”, a coming together of different cultures, as portrayed in Erdem’s show, which depicted a beautiful representation of his two grandmothers, one Turkish, and the other English, finally meeting; illustrated by the contrast of the pieces on the runway. In a similar vein, the Topshop Unique runway saw a stunning collection inspired by a seamless juxtaposition between a cool urban traveller and a 90s-esque party girl, bursting with colours and trends that made appearances in several other designers’ work.
Florals manage to stand the test of time season after season, because, not only are they classic prints that will never go out of style, but they also reinvent themselves and return with a new lease of life every single time. Next season, florals will break all of the rules; watch out for the rose print in particular. We can also expect to wave goodbye to the plunging necklines and sky-high slits that dominated the high-street last season. This season’s dresses, even the flower girl dresses are looking far more modest; from ankle-skimming hemlines, dainty blouson sleeves, and delicate fabrics to pussy bows.
In the true youthful and fun spirit that is so often a part of London’s aesthetic, designers such as Mary Katrantzou, House of Holland, and Ashish, presented a whole host of pieces featuring well-known animated characters. Bold primary colours – yellow, red and blue – ruled the runway in all cities and London was absolutely no different; from cobalt blue suits, to bright red PVC coats! The Phoebe English image on the next page in particular, sparked a social media frenzy!
Although most designers are well out of the average person’s price range, it’s always fun to take inspiration from the runway, not to mention the fact that fashion week heavily informs what we will see in our favourite high-street stores next season. In addition to this, we’re seeing more and more affordable designers grace the catwalk at fashion week every year, from Topshop Unique to H&M Studio, as well as the crossover between high-end and high-street with the various collaborations between designers such as Stella McCartney and Adidas, and Alexander Wang and H&M.
From my observations over the past couple of months, it seems that fashion week and the industry as a whole, is increasingly becoming more inclusive. Designers, through their collections have celebrated different cultures and body shapes, as well as beginning to appeal to a wider audience at all price points. The fashion industry is one that is constantly evolving, hopefully for the better!
words | Julia Coelho