While London is famed for youth and creativity, five designers took an unexpectedly sophisticated turn for the Spring/Summer 16 shows. WGSN Associate Womenswear Editor Laura Yiannakou reports
From our rich heritage in quintessential British design, to our celebrated multicultural and experimental street style – what’s not to love about eclectic, eccentric London Fashion Week?
Many designers will tell you they’re not only drawn to the city for its cultural diversity, but it’s ability to adopt and support emerging fashion talents, through the likes of Lulu Kennedy’s Fashion East and The British Fashion Council’s NEWGEN scheme.
Although we were excited about the season’s new roster of youth-driven design talents (Caitlin Price, Richard Malone and Faustine Steinmetz to name a few), we couldn’t help but notice the designers who instead wowed the crowd with a much more grown-up aesthetic. Take these five designers as an example, whose dresses were more afternoon aperitifs than all-night rave…
1. Topshop Unique
It felt as if the Topshop teen we all know and love was ready to blossom into her twenties this season. She still had her beautifully British rebellious streak, but looked much more polished and put together. We loved the styling – slick centre-parted hair and sophisticated faux fur stilettos, which carried the demure high-necked lace blouses and belted boyfriend blazers.
2. Simone Rocha
Simone Rocha celebrated the launch of her brand new Mayfair store this month and what could feel more grown-up than that?! Her collection this season felt slightly less youthful, too – the signature Rocha style remained, but with a refined polish. Delicate silks and lace defined a palette of dusty pinks, olive and browns and that oozed subtlety – a far cry from the punches of youthful neon and perspex from her first S/S 13 debut.
Erdem marked his 10th anniversary in fashion this season rather controversially with a distinctively moody and melancholic collection. Despite this, it was the embodiment of demure sophistication – couture-worthy ruffled dresses drove a pretty-meets-dark prairie look, which will no doubt be influencing the high street imminently.
4. Christopher Kane
Having been backed by luxury group Kering for the past two years, Kane continues to sit alongside some of the biggest names in British fashion, including Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney. Like Erdem, his collection’s wow-factor went up a notch this season – the attention to detail and and fabric innovations were next to none. Inspired by “crash and repair”, he presented a sophisticated collection of separates – panelled lace shirt dresses, cutaway blazers and leather pencil skirts, which were accessorised with cable ties worn as chokers and bracelets – adding Kane’s signature strange-meets-chic appeal.
5. Jonathan Saunders
Having started his label under the wings of the British Fashion Council way back when, Saunders not only celebrated his second decade in fashion this season, but has also gained a new investor and CEO. This new, grown-up chapter in Saunder’s career was reflected strongly in the refinement of his print and pattern designs this season. We loved the sophisticated bias cut dresses and wrapped skirts, which carried – in his words – the “effortless, breezy, sensuous” element of the collection.
And on the flipside, Burberry…
Burberry instead took us by complete surprise, and opted for a beautiful yet extremely youthful collection, reflecting Bailey’s controversially clever decision to preview the collection digitally on Snapchat, the day before the show. Oversized backpacks sat over short and sweet hemlines, complemented by textural florals and chunky bejewelled slides.
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