London Fashion Week was a sombre affair for SS23, with designers like Burberry and Raf Simons cancelling their shows to pay respect to the death of our Queen Elizabeth II. With Monday slashed from the roster due to her funeral, LFW felt disjointed and muted – but the show must go on, because fashion month for the rest of the world can seem frivolous, but for us who work in the industry, fashion month is business.
But just because it’s business doesn’t mean that tributes can’t be paid – and no more than Richard Quinn, who received the Queen Elizabeth II Award in Design, as well as having the actual Queen sit front row at his debut show back in 2018. He opened his SS23 show with 22 mourning looks in total blackout, and if you know anything about Richard Quinn, you’ll know that he loves his vibrant florals which are a go-to of his brand, so it’s not every day Quinn comes out with something devoid of colour. The looks in question were indeed fit for royalty, with intricate beading and draped lace that took inspiration from the history of the monarchy (Elizabethan times, included) – and if you were ever doubting his expertise, he and his time created all the mourning looks during the 10 days of mourning after Lizzie’s death. A fitting send-off for an incredible lady.
Speaking of the United Kingdom (just wait for this segue), there’s maybe the one thing that the Scots and Brad Pitt have in common – and that’s a love of skirts. They’re not just for women, you know? Daniel W. Fletcher sent some dark menswear down the catwalk for SS23, with feminine, flowing shapes. Think draped silk blouses, pleated skirts, corset tops and neck ties. Pair that with sartorial tailoring, arm bands around sharply cut blazers, and we have a delightful collection that perfectly walks the fluidity between men’s and women’s design for a seamless unisex collection.
That mix of the masculine and the feminine was a common theme throughout LFW, with brands like Toga reimagining the classic sartorial button-down into a sleek halter neck, or S.S. Daley making men’s tailored trousers be so full and voluminous with pleating that it could have been a skirt, or a quintessential double-breasted blazer cinched in at the waist with a belt tie, or tailored trousers worn so high up the body that they turn into a jumpsuit.
A designer’s collection that I would never imagine I would say I have loved is JW Anderson’s. His SS23 collection was naturally kooky and explored the theme of human consciousness in the technological age, complete with shirts made up of computer keys, plastic dresses evocative of Pink Floyd’s classic line, “We’re just two lost souls living in a fishbowl, year after year” and a metal bulb as a dress, reflecting our faces back in a distorted way of seeing ourselves. Doesn’t that sound like social media to you? For a finishing touch, the last look sent down the runway (or the walkway of the underground casino on Wardour street) was a simple black T-shirt dress paying homage to HRM the Queen. Colour me impressed.
Another fave of the fashion scene: Nensi Dojaka doesn’t look at her collections as different expressions of her design aesthetic, instead, she sees them as an extension of what has come before. This is clear to see through the inclusion of heart motifs, scarlet wiring, and delicate ruffles – all big hits in her Autumn/Winter 2022 show. Her love of lingerie-inspired silhouettes remains, this time with plenty of sheer – a huge upcoming trend seen throughout all brands this season – and the introduction of sparing sequins on her cult subversive designs.
Perhaps the sheer trend and subversive dressing is a continuation of the trompe de l’oeil trend from last season, where the body was manipulated and tricked by the eye – while this season we’re in the mood for transparency, to try and see things as they really are, underneath all the waffling and posturing. Sheer continues to be one of the main trends of the Spring/Summer season, with almost all designers showcasing see-through looks in one way or another.
Lastly, I always look forward to David Koma due to its contemporary edge applied to every collection. For SS23, Koma took a marine theme (I scream! My dream) with appliquéd stafish covering nipples à la all-grown-up Little Mermaid, ostrich feather bags that look like anemones swaying in the underwater current, vivid gradients that look like oil sitting on the surface of the marina, rope dresses in cobalt blue looking like an Yves Klein fishing net, and sequinned wavy lines only just covering your modesty. Fun side note: I wore a David Koma dress for my birthday this year that had crystal hibiscus flowers covering my boobs and got told off for being dressed inappropriately at the restaurant. They told me to keep my jacket on the whole night (I didn’t). Do you really expect me to cover up a David Koma dress on the day I celebrate my birth? Yeah, right. Dua Lipa wore the exact same dress and I bet she never got told off. Anyway, my point is I’ve already decided I’m going one step further this year and wearing SS23 Look 4. Sue me!