As usual, the designers across the pond managed to showcase quirky looks in salable ways. As for political statements, they were far less abundant than at New York Fashion Week but when a designer had something to say, it was quite clear. See below for The Untitled Magazine’s picks for the most memorable collections of the week.
At Burberry on February 20th, Christopher Bailey managed to merge the abstract with the sellable qualities of the retail world with his second see-now, buy-now women and men’s collection for the brand. Inspired by the sculptures of Henry Moore (a few of which populated the runway), the designer played with proportion and asymmetry. Skewed ruffles and cable knits added dimension without trading form for functionality. Bailey is committed to bringing artistry back to the runway – he is stepping down as CEO of the brand in order to focus on his duties as creative director.
At Preen on February 19th, Thea Bregazzi and Justin Thornton paid homage to the original protesters, the suffragettes who walked for their rights despite numerous petticoats and pinching shoes. In doing so they also turned an eye on the current political atmosphere. In lieu of an official press release, photographs of the designer’s books revealed their inspirations, including one about Christina Broom. As the first female journalistic photographer in Britain, Broom captured the early women’s marches firsthand. Of course, since this is Preen, it wasn’t all about the serious. As in life, fashion should have a balance of work and play – the political and the fanciful – and that’s where the designer duo’s floral prints and rucched party dresses come into play.
Gareth Pugh is ready for political battle and an extremely edgy, underground party. His latest collection at London Fashion Week on February 18th showcased Matrix-ready trench coats, sculptural silhouettes, and a heavy dose of oversized furs. The clothes matched the jarring soundtrack, a curation of samples, mashed together in the same interrogation method that the CIA uses for sleep deprivation. In fact, the designer explained that the music was made to ensure that people would “stay woke.”
Like Bailey at Burberry, Christopher Kane also showed his mastery for mixing the commercial and the crafty on February 20th at LFW. His latest collection stayed true to his aesthetic – 3D flowers, origami folds and shimmering metallics reigned supreme but were never overpowering. Kane even threw in a eccentric print for good measure – spaceships decorated flowing blouses, dresses and skirts. Paired with navy trousers and asymmetrical tops, the galactic print was more down-to-earth than out-of-this-world but that was actually a good thing.
Leave it to Ashish to make cultural commentary with glimmering sequins. While NYFW designers who reflected on current events went somber, Ashish went for fun and flamboyance to make the biggest political statements of the week. Based on the concept of The Wizard of Oz as a metaphor for Washington DC, models in Mexican wrestling mask makeup traipsed down a glittering yellow runway in looks that featured rainbow stripes and many, many positive political slogans. Sparkling sweatshirts and shorts married American baseball logos and patriotic colors with statements such as “unity in adversity,” “pussy grabs back,” “planned parenthood,” and “never give up.” One top asked, “Why be blue when you can be gay?” But the most memorable proclamation had to be, “more glitter, less twitter.” Let’s hope that becomes a chant at the next LGBTQ rally.