On an unusually warm February weekend, the best in British fashion congregated in the capital to showcase the looks that we’ll be wearing come Autumn/Winter 2019. The series of shows, particularly across the Saturday and Sunday were diverse and disruptive, clouding London with a sense of political fervour and true British grit.
Amongst the weekend’s shows, some British classics and relative new comers took centre stage.
After a successful transition from television presenter to fashionable figure, Alexa Chung, both the brand and the businesswoman, has gone from strength to strength stylistically. With a star-studded FROW, the second collection to show at LFW feels more established, taking a swift departure from predictable prettiness towards cutting edge contemporary pieces. A style icon to teenagers circa 2013, this season Chung presented a more nuanced version of herself. The collection feels assured and distinctively tied to its British roots, sitting comfortably amongst key LFW players with a classic British trench coat reimagined in striking vinyl at its heart . You could say Chung has created Burberry’s edgier cousin. The impression given is sleek and mature, emulating Chung’s personal style but keeping up with looks seen across runways; think heavy shoulder padding and swathing ponchos. Satins, velours and checks permeated the runway and it is clear that with this extremely desirable collection, Chung has triumphed. Politically; Chung herself said she’s dressing women for the apocalypse, whenever it may come.
Fresh off the back of the Topshop collaboration that dressed the nation for the recent Christmas party season, Halpern’s A/W19 collection amplified the glamour, frivolity and fun of previous collections to greet our wildest disco fantasies with open arms. Michael Halpern, a New York native, gave us signature dramatic draping sequins set within the walls of an art deco hall on Park Lane. Every essence of the city night was encapsulated through a carefully crafted blend of evening wear with a sense of free flow to mirror the attitudes of its wearers. Bardot and asymmetric necklines juxtaposed capes and layers, whilst a varied colour palette of exotic purples, golds, blues and oranges demonstrated once again that Halpern isn’t afraid to shy away from colour clashes and experiment. We only want to be dressed in Halpern next party season.
One of LFW’s longest standing veterans, Vivienne Westwood, has continually gifted us collections which are as outspoken and vivacious as she. Having sculpted one of Britain’s most iconic fashion houses, The Vivienne Westwood show is a pageantry of style that we look forward to season on season. A/W19 was a collection to capture our attention with actress turned activist Rose McGowen leading a brigade of models who were diverse in every sense of the word. Oversized dresses whose patterns resembled childhood scribbles reading powerful statements such as “Brexit is a crime” commanded the runway, overshadowed only by models sporting prosthetic Pinocchio noses which propelled Westwood’s political statement further to the forefront of her collection. The collection was a mix of men’s and womenswear with check suits featuring heavily amongst more oversized looks and emphasized shoulders, a theme running across LFW. Noticeably, colours fitted a Brownie Scout yellow and brown theme rooting Westwood’s designs firmly in the familiar. A crafty collation of pinstripes, distressed denim, satin and slashed sleeves came together for a showcase that is sure to leave London inspired; both in fashion and politics.
House of Holland
A firm LFW favourite, House of Holland is entering its 13th year as London’s cool and approachable streetwear brand, and its teenage years look to be tumultuous in the best sense of the word. Famous for its catchphrase tees which are an inside glimpse into Henry Holland’s mischievous mind (remember “give us a toss, Karlie Kloss” and “Yours for a tenner, Kendall Jenner”?), HOH has grown from strength to strength. Continually the choice of both critics and celebs, this collection moved Holland’s trendy designs closer towards topical talking points. Named “Global Citizen” the assembly of streetwear was a celebration of London’s cosmopolitan influences heavily featuring a collision geometric shapes and patterns. It made subtler statements than Holland’s past work, but statements none the less. Boiler suits, angular berets and a patchwork of denim were running themes in a collection that Holland determined as a “call to arms” for women to stand up for what they believe in, with a padded Barbour green trench coat leading the way.
Typically associated with her frosty demeanour, Victoria Beckham seemed unphased by her recent abstinence from the Spice Girls reunion tour. The Tate Britain was home to Beckham’s cinematic collection whose powerful visuals saw Beckham finally breakdown the barricade between her private and personal self. Heritage fabrics, impressive tailoring and cape sleeves proved to be distinguishers of Beckham’s new designs but markers of a past, predictable Beckham were not forgotten. Beckham cut a strict silhouette and revamped the LBD she is so famed for. In an experimental move, open-toe leopard print thigh highs became the talking point of the collection. A new take on the tiring leopard trend, I’m unsure how an open-toe will fair in London this A/W. Perhaps Beckham hasn’t yet adjusted back into good old British weather from her LA lifestyle. The defining piece for me, which spoke volumes about Beckham’s current vogue, both personally and professionally; a high neck sequin dress with green cuffs. So perfect. It seems unpredictability is the spice of life.
Intricate hairstyling and a leather dress which had metal rings for seams appeared on the Burberry Runway as Ricardo Tisci’s subtle nod to his gothic revival Givenchy background. Aside from this, the collection was entirely symbolic of an altogether British brand identity, one model even carried a billowing flag behind him with bold patriotism. An essence of cultural nostalgia infiltrated the 106 looks which split decidedly between two stylistic approaches. On the one hand; classic Burberry checks, this seasons cape style coat and a reinvention of the blazer in an hourglass cut, prompted a sense of classicism, suggesting that Tisci’s direction is entirely loyal to Burberry’s past.
On the other hand, an edgier, less predictable display of nouveau streetwear took form in sherpa-lined biker jackets and oversized polos in a distinctly black and ivory palette. Deconstructed sportswear and racer style leathers made for a runway satiated with provocative and compelling pieces. In this broad collection, Tisci sells us the notion of a Burberry lifestyle, all around us. It is classic, but it is also modern and not immune from fashion’s political influences.
Images: British Vogue.