We’re only two days in, and this London Fashion Week is already proving to be one of the most dynamic yet. If day one was all about bringing activism and eccentricity to the catwalk, day two will be defined by its homage to wearable clothing.
To the uninitiated, this might seem like an illogical claim: isn’t the point of clothing that it can be, erm, worn? Well, yes, that is the general idea. But Fashion Week is an exception, with designers taking the opportunity to showcase their wildest creative fantasies, which can include anything from voluminous tutu dresses (here’s looking at you, Molly Goddard) to giant bow-shaped hats, both of which would make quite the statement on your morning coffee run.
There has been a notable shift away from this, though, particularly among British designers. On day two of LFW, it was all about comfort and practicality. Spiked stilettos were swapped for wide-heeled platforms and flat sandals while slim-fitting garments were traded for roomier fits that were stylish and sophisticated without being restrictive.
Even at Simone Rocha, where the gowns were regal and opulent, most models wore either ballet pumps or biker boots. A handful wore heels, but these were no higher than one inch.
There’s more to come, of course, with all eyes set to be on Victoria Beckham and Burberry come Sunday. But for those who want to remain one step ahead, here’s everything you need to know about day two of London Fashion Week autumn/winter 2019.
Designers cut women some slack – in a literal sense
There once was a time when loose-fits and draping hemlines would’ve been classed as unfeminine and unflattering. Thankfully, we now live in more progressive times, both socially and sartorially speaking. The latter was fully realised on day two of LFW, with the morning’s designers all trading pinching bodycons for airier silhouettes.
Jasper Conran, for example, exhibited thigh-skimming jumpers and floor-length sleeveless dresses that hung off models’ shoulders with an easy-breezy elegance.
Meanwhile, tailoring took a slouchy turn at Ports 1961, with wide-leg trousers and roomy blazers setting the agenda for comfortable casual wear. Fluoro pencil skirts aside, it was a similarly relaxed mood at Eudon Choi, with a focus on fluid fabrics and soft, sensual styles – think shirt dresses, boiler suits and billowing winter coats – that accentuate the female form without constricting it. OP
Accessories galore at House of Holland
If celebs on the front row are what hits the spot for you, then how about trying on the entire cast of Netflix’s hit Sex Education for size? Sitting alongside Radio 1 DJ Clara Amfo, the actors made for a paparazzo’s heaven.
On the catwalk, creative director Henry Holland presented a clash of bright oranges and pinks, through bow-knotted puffer scarves and pussy bow blouses.
This season the brand offered more low-key wearable pieces in khakis and greys, seen on plaid jackets tied at the waist, smock dresses and sweatshirts. A strong safari influence was threaded throughout.
It was the accessories which really stood out in the autumn/winter 2019 collection, though. Cow-print berets and hiking boots, aggressively spiked handbags and architectural earrings worn in single ears, spoke to fashion followers’ adoration of accoutrements.
But it was one item in particular which is likely to send woke shoppers wild: a T-shirt bearing the slogan: self-love, it’s my vagina. We’re putting our order in already... HH
Alexa Chung brought millennial pizazz to wardrobe staples
London Fashion Week attendees have become accustomed to seeing all sorts of strange, and often entirely impractical, items passed off as trends, with feathery bearskin hats and wooden hula hoops already making runway appearances at Matty Bovan and Ryan Lo, respectively. What a pleasant surprise it was, then, to see Alexa Chung mark her second season at LFW with a collection that was both fun and flamboyant, but also entirely viable and free from quixotic accessories.
Sure, there were eye-wateringly high platform shoes reminiscent of classic Vivienne Westwood styles that would almost certainly be a health and safety hazard. But the 35-year-old’s vision for autumn/winter 2019 was, on the whole, user-friendly. Prim prairie dresses were modernised via cinched-in waistlines and oversized outerwear while forest greens gave corduroy suits and velvet coats a whimsical feel.
Elsewhere, Chung paid homage to the millennial-favoured film Clueless with a yellow plaid coat and chequered suit, an aesthetic that the film’s protagonist, Cher Horowitz, popularised. All this paired with knitted scarves and snug-fitting jumpers means renders this a collection that is meant to be worn, not merely observed. Chung wants you to don these glad rags everywhere from the pub to the dance floor, though you may want to reconsider your footwear if it’s the latter. OP
Simone Rocha gave everyone goosebumps
Attendees at a Simone Rocha show always knows they're in for a treat, but this season was undoubtedly one for the ages.
An opulent mood was set upon entry. Not only was this thanks to a labyrinthine catwalk that spanned several rooms in the Royal Academy of Arts, where the show took place, but the defacto interiors that this palatial museum space offered, which ranged from crystal chandeliers to century-old artworks adorning the walls.
All this before you've even seen the collection. Rocha is a master of the princess gown, this much we knew already, but her autumn/winter collection took this to the next frontier thanks to frothy layers of tulle, sparkling sequin bodices and actual tiaras. There was a lot of pink, too. And not just any old garish bubblegum shade. It was pale, rose-infused, champagne satins with flashes of dusky blush.
If the beautiful gowns weren't enough, this was a show that aimed to empower women, something Fashion Week could certainly use more of, with models of all ages, sizes and races walking the runway. Famous faces featured too, with models Lily Cole, 31, and Chloë Sevigny, 44, causing some major head turns as they glided down the catwalk in Rocha's breathtaking designs.
Guests departed the Royal Academy that evening with shivers down their spine for more reasons than one. OP
Mary Katrantzou brought Sesame Street to the catwalk – and it worked
Natalia Vodianova made a triumphant return to the runway for Katrantzou’s most playful collection yet. There were feathers, sequins and head-to-toe ruffles, all in a kaleidoscopic range of shades, with almost every colour on the wheel represented.
Vodianova, who opened the show, donned a canary yellow creation – we think it was a dress, but one can never be too sure – that might well have been inspired by the elements, as the designer intended, or Sesame Street’s famous Big Bird. If anyone can pull of the latter without looking grotesquely cartoonish, it’s the 36-year-old Russian supermodel, whose catwalk appearances are far and few between these days, making Katrantzou’s casting choice all the more exciting.
What followed from this sunshine-y introduction was a masterclass in texture, with heavy plumes intertwining with tumbling frills to form kinetic silhouettes. Convivial hosiery brought levity to some of the more quotidian pieces – think swirling patterns and vivid shades of purple – but it was the celestial sequin gowns that sparked the most “oohs” and “aahs” among guests, who included model Neelam Gill and singer Louise Redknapp. OP
Follow all our coverage of London Fashion Week here.