Kicking off Sunday was Preen by Thornton Bregazzi. The duo showed at a warehouse space on Vauxhall’s Malthouse Road, filled with giant moving spotlights. It’s clear that what separates the wheat from the chaff at London Fashion Week is the ability to carve out an aesthetic DNA while evolving that recognisable aesthetic each season: some do, some don’t. Preen is in the former camp, and while guests of course look forward to the dramatic romanticism of the brand’s hyper-feminine dresses (ruffles, pleats and balloon sleeves galore), it’s the subtle innovation that keeps us on our toes.
This season, the design duo took inspiration from a host of references to Japanese culture, from Manga series Japonisme and The Promised Neverland to Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill and Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. It was a mix of tradition and modernity: dresses took note of age-old kimono shapes with draped sleeves and wrap fronts but never veered into cultural appropriation territory, while hoodies and slip dresses emblazoned with Manga cartoons will have Tokyo’s cool kids calling.
Victoria Beckham took centre stage on Sunday afternoon, exactly one year after returning to the London Fashion Week schedule after a decade of showing in New York. She also launched her eponymous beauty brand, so while it was no longer a 10th anniversary affair, there was plenty to celebrate. Between her family, Helen Mirren and Dior Homme designer Kim Jones sat front row, it was as star-studded an affair as Beckham’s shows ever are; as for the clothes themselves, the dress was the focal point for SS20. While in her earlier design years, the dress meant all bodycon and sex appeal, the contemporary VB woman wants billowing sleeves and chiffon fabrics in distinctive hues that would be as appropriate for the office as on holiday. Teamed with more masculine pieces – pinstriped blazers and ‘70s camel suiting – it was a fully realised step into the next chapter of her mega brand.
Perhaps the most spectacular turnout of the season (so far) was at Simone Rocha, who invited guests to north London’s glorious Alexandra Palace just as the sun was setting. A breathtaking 19th century theatre on the city’s highest hill was a fitting location for her collection, which took inspiration from the Celtic tradition of Wren Day, celebrated on 26th December each year. Show-stopping pieces featured straw (traditional Wren Day attire) woven through everything: models' hair, dress hems, coat collars, and crowns. Set to a mix of Irish folk music and a slicing horror score, there was a pagan darkness to Rocha’s SS20 girl, all black and white Baroque lace, blood-red embroidered flowers and folkloric fabrications. While Rocha’s customer will be pleased to see her characteristic mutton-leg shapes, puffs and pearls, this season's sinister drama took her into a different realm completely.