London Fashion Week is over for another season, and, while all eyes moved to Milan and Paris, we’ve taken stock of the shows we saw, the moments we loved and the trends that emerged. There were the ones that - like all good moments in fashion should - made our hearts flutter, thrilled at the prospect of employing them with every inch of our sartorial arsenal come spring-time. Then there were the harder-to-wear trends, the ones that will be diluted before trickling down to the high street. And, of course, there were trends that we hope will never catch on - catwalk monstrosities that should never see the light of day again (we’re looking at you, bubble skirts.)
Pieces with slashes both big and small popped up everywhere at London Fashion Week. Why? One could argue that, despite the distinct lack of political messages for SS19, the tension in fashion post #MeToo is still raging on. Designers fell into one of two camps last season, those who shielded their women from the darkness of the moment, and those who embraced sex appeal to the fullest. Perhaps a slice of fabric here, a peek of flesh there, signals that this season, they’re still working out what sex means now.
"I feel both sex and punk blended effortlessly together," Ida Petersson, Womenswear Buying Director at Browns, tells Refinery29. Following his last show, inspired by ‘70s manual The Joy of Sex, David Attenborough observing mating wildlife, and Marilyn Monroe’s breathy vocals soundtracked the catwalk. Of course, in classic Kane fashion, it wasn’t sex-as-bodycon-dresses-and-low-necklines; it was subversive, as seen in oversized dark coats with slashes in the sleeves. "Kane has never been shy about exploring sexuality and this season was all about “sex in nature” with conceal-and-reveal slashing that kept us guessing what was coming next," says Petersson.
"We started seeing the noughties trend last season with a lot of Next Generation designers turning to the decade, which in many cases was the era they grew up in," Petersson says. "It makes sense that as they start their own brands they seek inspiration from their childhood."
We first spotted signs of the noughties - ‘fashion’s dead decade’ - at Richard Malone, who employed vivid hues, photo-printing and fringing in a collection that got us genuinely excited for next season. Our favourite look? A surreal printed tank top tucked into a ruched silk skirt. Drawstring detailing running up the leg reminded us so much of the dresses we wore to school discos in the noughties, but paired with some serious lace-up platform boots, it feels so right for now.
Over at Supriya Lele, the British Indian designer previously of Fashion East who showed solo for the first time this season, we saw acid-bright chiffon sportswear via doubled-up asymmetric tops and oversized pockets on the thighs of trousers. Add the pointed white heels and you have yourself a very early noughties going out-out get-up. Supriya’s certainly one-to-watch.
Ashish’s whole show was a love letter to late-night raving, from snogging couples on podiums to the pumping soundtrack, but, among his signature sparkle, cuts and colours felt markedly noughties. Sequin bikini tops in bright greens met his take on low-slung ‘denim’ (remember the hipsters of the decade, where the true aim of your outfit was to flash a peek of your thong?)
All Tied Up
Ladylike dressing has reigned supreme for some time now, as seen in the rise of the frothy frills of hyper-femininity, so it comes as no surprise that styling touches this season maintained the prim and proper aesthetic. Whether it’s inspired by the current royal obsession - with thanks to The Crown and Meghan - or brands’ increase in luxury detailing, silk scarves were spotted for SS19.
At Alexachung, whose show, Arrivals and Departures, hinged on the mish mash of styles seen at airport lounges, silk scarves were tied around the handles of beach-appropriate tote bags, but also around necks when paired with neutral two-piece safari-esque suits.
Burberry offered a new styling tip and had models wearing them tied around belts and draping down the front of trousers, a look the brand’s luxury client is sure to appreciate. "There is no denying the influence The Crown has had this season with designers such as Tisci reimagining the heritage of Burberry. I’m not surprised to see the scarf utilised in a more imaginary way and I loved the trench with the scarf detailing," says Petersson.
The beauty of the silk scarf, though? You can tie it any-which way.
Every colour in the spectrum has had its time in the sun over the past few seasons, from Millennial pink to tomato red, but this season, it was all about green. Sure, it may fall under the umbrella on intimidating shades, much like yellow, but as proved by Kim Kardashian (in her neon green Versace dress) and the street style set at Copenhagen Fashion Week, it’s more wearable than you think.
At Richard Malone, the strongest look came in the form of an apple green two-piece, cropped trousers and puffed-up jacket, which felt just as ‘70s as the accompanying lace-up boots and tinted shades. Rejina Pyo, the designer being heralded for creating clothes that women really want to - and actually could - wear, gave us a lime green tank top artfully tucked into a feather-hemmed cocoon skirt, making a strong case for the shade being desk-to-bar appropriate.
Finally, Ashish’s showstopper - and the look most Instagrammed by show-goers - was a fully sequinned Studio 54-esque pastel green jumpsuit, which will no doubt spawn a thousand high-street copycats.
It wasn’t just Richard Quinn that held a funeral this season (his was for the arts and arts education, which have undergone serious funding cuts in recent times), as we saw four collections showcase veils on the catwalk. Matty Bovan employed his craftsmanship to focus in on the mundanities of life - an intricate veil leading up to a garden trellis and kitchen sink gloves - while Mary Katrantzou’s celebrated 10th anniversary collection showed beautiful veils fall from head to foot alongside the lines of dresses and coats.
The tone was more sombre at both Simone Rocha and Erdem, however, as a widow-weeping-at-the-funeral majesty was turned out at both. Rocha’s typically feminine aesthetic gave a nod to the Tang dynasty, while Erdem’s looked to a Victorian court case concerning two sisters - who were actually a cross-dressing or gender-fluid couple - that were charged with buggery. While this trend may not translate directly to our wardrobes, the high-glamour and wistful return to the past might just work.
Netting could be found throughout London Fashion Week, in both high-craft forms (perhaps a continuation of the DIY finishes we’ve seen grow in popularity over the past few years - think tie-dye and frayed hems) and club-ready fabrics. At JW Anderson - arguably his strongest collection in seasons - macrame netting was integrated into dresses, trousers, and sleeves, mirroring the nautical headscarves of his swashbuckling woman.
This play with craft was also seen as Ports 1961, where a seaside theme also prevailed (the show soundtrack was ocean waves) and netting and string made up oversized bohemian bags, contemporary dresses, and beaded necklaces. Meanwhile, at Nicopanda, the neon trend - and preoccupation with clubbing, for that matter - was still going strong. Netting came in the form of lurid bodycon dresses and matching kicky cowboy hats.
Burst Our Bubble
Perhaps the most divise trend to emerge from London Fashion Week so far is the return of the bubble hem. The once-popular style was prevalent in the ‘80s before returning in the noughties - and we’d hoped it’d stay there. We first saw one at Richard Quinn, which, to be fair, looked glamorous among his feathered gowns and ‘20s flapper dresses. His iteration came in leopard print with a huge satin bow across the chest, and felt as Madonna or Cyndi Lauper-esque as it did the first time around.
At Burberry, however, amongst the serious camel two-pieces and silk shirts, came a deflated beige number, with a V-neck and knee-skimming hem. The jury’s still out on Ricardo Tisci’s first collection for the heritage brand, but it’s fair to say that this was not the strongest look of the collection. When given the glamour and pouf of Quinn’s take, the bubble hem can feel feminine and romantic, but if the trend does trickle down the the high street, we’ll be sure to have flash backs to Jane Norman’s offering from the mid-noughties.
Petersson thinks the trend has legs, though, saying, "We’ve seen it pop up here and there over the last few seasons most noticeably at Saint Laurent and Vauthier. If done in a chic way as demonstrated by Tisci and Malone then I’m ready to embrace this trend again."