London Fashion Week SS23: The Highlights
London Fashion Week's showcase continued over the weekend, taking place behind closed doors as a mark of respect following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Participating brands had been been asked to show consideration for the national 10-day mourning. The BFC asked designers not to release images until after the mourning period and advised the cancellation of non-essential events, such as parties.
Sadly big names, such as Burberry and Raf Simons, pulled out of the event as a mark of respect to The Queen, but the BFC was keen for the event to press ahead in the interests of protecting the business of the designers who choose to show in the UK capital. After several seasons of COVID-led disruption, those designers who did show, were keen to show off their pent-up creativity and there was plenty to inspire and delight.
Here we present our pick of the catwalks and showcases that did take place in a special recap edition of our London Fashion Week coverage.
Described as "harnessing a feeling", Simone Rocha's SS23 collection presents the fragility of emotions including anger and remorse, surrounded by nature.
Featuring an array of summer wool and sequin daisies, the collection offers a new proposition with constructed volume and disrupted proportions. Quilted tulip faille coats and bomber satin uniforms offer an opportunity to unzip and reveal what is beneath - raw emotions.
Molly Goddard describes the collection as "red carpets pre-internet". The collection takes us back to when dressing felt more for the party and for yourself - much more casual, laid back. No step and repeat and no posing. In short, people who looked like they were out to have fun.
Charles James served as a continuous source of inspiration for the collection, Goddard says "he strove for the exploration of creating shapes on the body". The idea of changing proportions of the body became a key element in this season, pushing fabrics to their extremes, utilising the qualities of each fabric and letting it do the work.
This season, Susan Fang builds on her early, traditional techniques to enrich her clothing with new crafts.
Abstract prints are worked into light and voluminous "air-flowers", which are made by stitching together fabrics printed with measured handtracks using only strips and avoiding cut-offs. The designer also makes uses of a sewing technique to create sequences of pleats on dresses, using both asymmetrical and symmetrical seams to bring movement to her creations.
For SS23 Bora Aksu presents an anachronistic dreamscape, a collection inspired by the work of the enigmatic artist and writer Henry Darger as well as the fanciful imaginings of Marcel Dzama.
SS23 explores the relationship between innocence and perversion, delivering pieces that toe the line between the delicate and the resolute. As with previous collections, femininity and the female experience are at the heart of Aksu’s creative process. SS23 sees the figures of the ‘Vivian Girls’ from Darger take centre stage as heroines in a world of violence.
The introduction of 1930s style military jackets, trench coats and shirting presents a blend of Aksu’s signature tailoring style with a harsher masculine aesthetic. These crisp, tailored pieces reflect a forced feminine maturity through their delicate but distinct lines and bold silhouettes.
The colour palette for the collection features bold tones of navy, creams and soft pink.
Taking inspiration from the moody party people who inspired last season’s collection, Mark Fast’s SS23 collection features neon motifs that through the decades to penetrate the zeal of the 80s fitness scenes.
Desires of comfortability within personal bodily physique merge with desires for bodily physicality, presenting a range centring on acceptance of one’s own self and embracement of everybody. The collection steers stereotypical associations of 80s aerobics classes and morphs them for use in a modern rave.
Departing daytime office jobs and unleashing themselves into the night’s reveries, Fast’s customised trainers-into-heels "embody the hard-worker of the daytime who turns into the bon-viveur of the night time".
Michael Halpern paid tribute to a trio of powerful women who have influenced him during his lifetime. His joyful show opened with a regal blue look in tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, there then followed a series of dresses inspired by his mother Cheryl's late 70s and early 80s New York disco style, followed by eight creations produced in homage to Barbie. Mattel, the doll's creator, is this year celebrating 60 years of the Barbie Dreamhouse and has drafted in Halpern to mark the occasion.
The collection went on a journey from leopard print to ink-black floor-length looks, rainbow ruffles and sequins via gold flocked velvet (a first for the designer). These were looks to party in, even if that party is at home, as many of Halpern's mother's were (her commitment to glamour was uncompromising, it seems).
Central Saint Martins graduate Halpern is becoming an official British citizen this year, which means he's here to stay – that gives all of British fashion cause to celebrate and he's just served up the perfect outfits for us to do just that.
For SS23 – TheIndustry.fashion selected Sinéad O’Dwyer as the NEWGEN talent to showcase. This season marks the designer’s first as a NEWGEN recipient, presenting her Summer Intensive collection.
The collection draws particular inspiration from a memory of her mother playing the Elgar cello concerto and school holidays spent at musical practice camps in rural Ireland – practising chamber music by day and leaning into teenage recklessness by night.
The signatures that form the foundation of Sinéad’s body-inclusive design vocabulary are reiterated and refined in this collection, such as with the shibari-inspired playsuits. Body-cladding silhouettes are counterposed by constructed tailoring.
Eudon Choi is now one of the more established names at London Fashion Week and his collections always feel accomplished, coherent and, we meant this in a wholly positive way, commercial. These clothes would be smart buys for retailers and consumers alike.
This season, Choi, took us on a trip to the French Riviera, and served up a desirable collection of gender-fluid wear that took its inspiration from 1930s beachwear combined with traditional men’s clothing. The result was a collection of roomy silhouettes taking in oversized jackets that can be cinched at the waist, slouchy cropped pants and full-length palazzo pants, relaxed midi and maxi dresses and lace ponchos.
The colour palette ranged from white to black taking in splashes of sunshine yellow and orange and azure blue. Print was scarce but when it appeared it was on point and on theme with an illustrative print, evocative of Cocteau’s work at La Villa Tatouée, located in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, where he embellished every corner of the house with drawings of sensual Neo-Greek, male faces, with straight noses and the eye of a dead fish.
Fabrics contributed to relaxed feel with Lyocell, organic cotton, bamboo jersey and Cupro used throughout. Choi also continued his collaboration with bag company LOUIS QUATORZE, with an expanded range of bags inspired by details from 1930’s furniture focusing on brass clasps, metallic bag handles and graphics from vintage posters.
Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McCloskey can always be depended on to bring some vintage-style fun and frills to London Fashion Week and their SS23 presentation did not disappoint.
The latest collection was inspired by a trip McCloskey took to Goa, where she fell in love with the Fontainhas area, also known as Goa’s Latin quarter. McCloskey found similarities with the clashing patterns used on the area's ceramics and tiles, which speaks to RIXO's unique and artful matching and mis-matching of prints, which has been its signature look since its launch.
Models, who were the usual diverse and delightful line-up, danced in front of a tiled backdrop providing a pleasing riot of colour and pattern.
RIXO is best known for its printed dresses and there were plenty of these but it has diversified the brand considerably of late with co-ords, such as matching shorts and shirts, now a key focus, along with solid colours. Solid colour dress and jacket sets offset the busy prints and provided another vehicle for the brand to present its vintage vision. They were also an opportunity to pay homage to the signature looks of HM The Queen, whose iconic wardrobe had inspired them.
Rejina Pyo created the perfect wardrobe in which women could "work and love", inspired by a famous quote made by Tolstoy 100 years ago in which he claimed that: "One can live magnificently in this world if one knows how to work and how to love.”
Despite the quote that inspired it being a century old, this collection felt bang up to date with luxe and relaxed work looks and evening wear that was both glamorous and easy to wear.
A considered palette of browns, beiges, black and white was punctuated with shots of electric blue, sage green and deep pink. Feminine tailoring featured short skirts, slits and draped trousers while for evening silk dresses came in strappy or halter neck styles, often finished with gold hardware. A standout dress came in the form of a black strappy dress with a side slit, elevated by a beautiful falling shoulder detail.
Sheer buttoned tops and skirts could be worn with or without linings, adding versatility to the looks, while delicately crocheted bras were draped over dresses and tops for a hand-crafted feel. Denim came in white and two-tone blue with frayed edges providing stylish options for off-duty looks.
You could truly live a magnificent life in this collection.
Main image: Halpern
Additional reporting: Lauretta Roberts