London Fashion Week (LFW) 17th – 22nd of September 2020 was quite different from the previous years. Designers looked for new and innovative ways to show their collections. This season, the schedule was split into three sections – brands that showed digitally, physically with catwalks or both combined. It was also the first year that many collections were gender neutral.
With Covid, the traditional form of a fashion show with a runway lined by influencers and fashionistas, students competing for the back row, or paparazzi hustling with flashing clicks at the entrance, could not be achieved. Instead, brands opted for intimate shows, live streamed catwalks, or decided to create films and innovative digital performances. The world must go on, and LFW 2020 has shown how we can adapt to our current situation in interesting ways.
The schedule includes exclusive multimedia content from designers, creatives, media and cultural institutions. Through these collaborations culture, technology and design have been merged.
The LFW website contains podcasts, videos, music and covers areas such as sustainability. To catch a glimpse of the best and newest fashion designers, or to listen to thought provoking podcasts, check out the website here: https://londonfashionweek.co.uk/
Over 80 brands large and small gathered to show their Spring Summer 2021 collections. Most chose digital film to show their collections, while others live streamed a catwalk show. Only a few chose to have physical performances, with select appointments and limited numbers attending.
Designers such as Erdem, Burberry, Molly Goddard, Simone Rocha and Bora Aksu made the event mixes of digital and physical.
Burberry’s collection walked naturally through a forest, one by one, to meet at a central stage with a choreographed dance and live singer. The garments themselves were not ethereal, as you’d imagine for a forest setting, but included a mix of white fabric with graffiti like patterns, silver sequin dresses and orange jackets. The collection was more like style in the city with nautical features. The creative officer Riccardo Tisci said that he was inspired by “a love affair between a mermaid and a shark, set against the ocean, then brought to land.”
Molly Goddard, who’s recognised for her signature tulle designs, brought a flash of colour and texture to this years fashion show. Her catwalk was small and digitally streamed. Garments with blocks of colour look forward to next summer’s style.
Erdem, one of my favourite brands, is famous for its floral prints and elegant feminine silhouettes. In Erdem’s world, women are not going to stop dressing up. Erdem Moalioglu was inspired by Susan Sontag’s novel The Volcano Lover. He said that “It begins with three people dancing on the lip of a volcano.”
Live streamed from a forest, the models walking were straight out of the 18th century, when Sontag’s novel was set. The fabrics include embroidered muslin and organza dresses with 18th century floral forms and treated with creases. The collection shows beauty in a time of uncertainty. When entering his showroom, Erdem said “When it feels like the end of the world, doesn’t someone need a pink moiré hand-embroidered gown?”
Bora Aksu was one of the few to have a show with seated guests. Set in a rose garden behind St. Paul’s Church in Covent Garden, the guests sat apart from each other and the models wore translucent masks. The collection is an optimistic look at a world of prosperity post Covid. The collection was split into three parts – WW1 and the influenza pandemic of 1928, the grieving period afterwards, and into the roaring twenties. The catwalk show began with models wearing white cotton dresses, reminiscent of nurses. The grieving period is represented in shades of blue, only then to be followed by hope in the form of light ruffled lace dresses.
In a much simpler presentation, Simone Rocha exposed her collection as a series of photographs set against a white background. Her collection contains large pearl-like ornaments and a reference to the Victorian era. The pearl bags and intricate headpieces show that these garments were made with a great attention to detail. Rocha explored themes such as fragility and strength – shown with the seemingly heavy pearls held by delicate straps. The models remind me of old portraits, where the sitter would have to stay still for a considerable time. This collection takes us out of this world and into an ethereal dream.
Needless to say, this pandemic has had crushing effects on all English fashion labels, in particular independent designers such as Simone Rocha. Many have scaled back their collections, with time to work and concentrate on details. However, the talent shown at this London Fashion Week is a testament to the creatives reacting to our changing times. The designers look forward to a brighter Spring and Summer of 2021, as we all are.