Against all odds, London Fashion Week persisted among restrictions and social distancing. The event this year is a fest of gender-neutral streetwear, vintage chicness, and Victorian-inspired beauty. Coalescing reality with virtuality, over 80 Britain-based designers and brands showcased their Spring/Summer 2021 collections in a variety of unorthodox formats: physical runways with online live-streams, short films, and look books. Moreover, this six-day schedule of designers blending fashion staples with innovative presentations seems to convey an unanimous message on fashion storytelling.
Burberry kicked off the first day of LFW with a grandiose live fashion runway celebrating British summertime. Staged for a digital audience, Creative Director Riccardo Tisci conceived with artist Anne Imhof a bucolic fashion performance in the forest. Titled In Bloom, the collection presents an array of sophisticated garments infused with Tisci’s signature graphic appeal. He instilled a palette of aquatic blue and fresh orange to the lofty wearables, intercepted by rich prints and oversized Burberry logos on the rugged staples. Burberry’s signature trench coat was also reimagined with juxtaposing fabrics and textiles in bold cut-outs, signaling the brand’s unceasing evolution.
On Saturday, breakthrough designer Molly Goddard also unveiled her new collection via a runway in her studio. Presenting a line of models clad in vibrant hues and textures, her collection of tulles and ruched dresses was a minimalistic exploration of ecstatic colors in maximalist shapes. Erdem‘s Susan Sontag-inspired collection also unrolled via a pre-recorded runway in the woods, featuring an ethereal amalgam of 18th-century tailoring, floor-length gowns, and an abundance of bow accents, billowy silhouettes, and signature botanical prints.
This year’s LFW also saw the boom of virtual presentation via look books by brands such as Emilia Wickstead, Fashion East, and Richard Malone. Established labels including Vivienne Westwood and Halpern opted for presenting their collections via short films. Dame Westwood’s unisex collection channeled the radical values of punk rock and gender-blending while giving a nod to diversity through vivid art prints and asymmetrical details. Young designer Michael Halpern’s short film is a tribute to frontline essential workers that also delivered his optimism on the industry. Eight heroines detail their life in pandemic as they pose in an array of springy garments in iridescent patterns, majestic tweed, and lusty emerald fabrics. And the arrival of Simone Rocha’s collection via a look book offered a sobering but exploding deep-dive of female forms. Rounded volumes with soft embroidery, gilded brocade with muted canvas–her escapism-oriented womenswear is “Looking for comfort and security in the extreme.”
Short films by 16Arlington, Edeline Lee, Per Götesson, and Phoebe English were also interwoven into the week’s multifaceted format. A sequel to the brand’s Fall/Winter 2020 collection, Phoebe English’s Nothing New Part 2 was a minimalistic take on the video look book, mingling the modeling of looks with behind-the-scenes footage. Edeline Lee took a more abstract approach, opting for a stop motion-esque film that captured the “emotional landscape of lockdown.” A single model galavanted around a room in overlapping shots, sporting a number of ruffled frocks in rich blue and salmon hues.
A few notable names rounded out Monday’s presentations. Victoria Beckham’s digital display began with an uplifting message: “Limitations can be liberating.” Modernity, fluidity, and eclecticism were present in a shuffle of bold colors and muted tones, with the juxtaposition of practical fits and svelte tailoring comprising the collection. Models transformed an art gallery into a catwalk, showcasing the sophisticated, all-encompassing collection. And Christopher Kane provided an intimate look at his Spring/Summer 2021 collection in the short film “In Conversation with Kirsty Wark.” The designer illustrated his creative process, speaking to his childhood-turned-quarantine pastime of glitter painting and its rendering onto clothing. A natural progression from youthful artistic expression, pieces from Kane’s compact collection feature streamlined silhouettes to emphasize the striking colors and textures of the artworks they reference.
And ending the week with anticipation, Richard Quinn delivered a teaser for his soon-to-debut Spring/Summer 2021 collection. In a simple, and perhaps symbolic, short video, the label announced it will unveil a fashion film alongside its collection launch on October 9. This followed Jonathan Anderson’s Monday reveal that his JW Anderson Spring/Summer 2021 collection will make a digital debut in a week’s time. Although the LFW calendar has commenced, these designers ensured their audiences that there is more still to come.
In spite of pandemic-induced obstacles, LFW provided yet another affair for self-expression, optimism, and innovation. The many experimental and inventive presentations of the past week prove that the creativity and non-conformity of the industry is not only unstifled, but a burgeoning force during this time.END
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