6 Trends To Copy From The Catwalks At London Fashion Week
From Crayola colour blocking to shiny shoes, designers refined and perfected their aesthetic DNA, reminding us, with Brexit looming large, just what’s so great about Britain.
In times of political and social unrest, fashion designers – like musicians and artists – tend to follow one of two diverging paths. Either they break from tradition, kick against the status quo and use their creations to illustrate their stance, or they seek solace in the familiar, retreating from external panic and finding comfort in their internal worlds.
The British Fashion Council (BFC) and 90% of 500 London-based designers have been vocal about their wish to remain in the EU since the referendum of 2016. SS20, however, did not reflect the doom and gloom of the current political unrest, but rather allowed designers (and us) to find respite in the familiar and relief in the fantasy of fashion.
Everyone at London Fashion Week, from Simone Rocha to Christopher Kane, presented offerings that refined and perfected their aesthetic DNA. In throwing up some of the strongest collections we’ve seen for some time, they confirmed what's so great about Britain, even as Brexit looms large and the very notion of British identity is questioned. The creative current that runs through the British fashion scene was strongly felt; as Caroline Rush, chief executive of the BFC said at the press conference that kicked off this season: "At times of adversity, creativity is even stronger."
Here are six key trends we saw at London Fashion Week SS20 that got our hearts racing and provided some temporary relief from the relentless news cycle.
We’ve seen all shades of green dominate the past few seasons, from earthy sage to alarming neon, but this season designers presented an electric and yellow-tinged hue that wouldn’t look out of place in a chemistry lab. While Supriya Lele, whose excellent SS20 show was her debut outside the Fashion East family, offered a super fresh take on '90s staples like the calf-skimming trench, Christopher Kane looked to nature for his collection 'Ecosexual' and gave us shades of green that you might find on the belly of a poisonous reptile. Rejina Pyo, the editor- and influencer-favourite making hyper-wearable wardrobe staples, went for a more muted tone in the button-down summer dress we guarantee you’ll spot all over Instagram next season.
Sure, polka dots re-entered our fashion consciousness when Virgil Abloh paid homage to Lady Di in his Off-White SS18 collection, but this season's polka dots felt less Sloane Ranger and more rebellious. Richard Quinn’s showstopping collection brought London Fashion Week to a close, and among the children in feathered bonnets and his trademark latex gloves, a sequinned polka dot mini dress felt fresh and wearable. JW Anderson’s mint green dress, complete with sparkle-encrusted belt, bustier and collar, elevated the humble polka dot by employing mismatching shapes, while Erdem’s history lesson had us looking to Italian actress and communist Tina Modotti for we-mean-business skirt suits.
We haven’t been this excited about footwear in years: thanks to the flat ending the heel’s reign once and for all, practicality seems to have trumped decoration in the shoe department of late. All hail Simone Rocha, who gave us jewel-encrusted silver Mary Janes with a thoroughly sturdy platform sole; Preen, whose low-heeled shimmering pumps had ankle support via ballet wraps; and Molly Goddard, who always nails hyperfemininity without veering into fussiness – her metallic blue flats will be worn by every editor worth their salt next summer.
The dress has certainly led the charge in recent times, with labels like Batsheva, Rixo, Ganni and Realisation Par winning over even the most avid trouser-wearers. This season, however, several designers made a strong case for the summer boilersuit, all boxy sleeves, loose of leg, and in a plethora of neutral shades. House of Holland’s standout look was a dusty pink all-in-one with a slouched belt, Roksanda’s lilac number had an ultra-relaxed fit and inches-deep turn-up at the hems, while Rejina Pyo gave us the perfect wear-with-anything sand boilersuit (we’ll throw a trench over while it’s cold and pair with sandals come sunny season).
In contrast to all the neutrals we’ve seen since Phoebe Philo’s departure from Celine (Burberry and Bottega Veneta have been particularly brilliant in this department), it was a breath of fresh air to see so many vivid paintbox brights this season. It’s certainly the serotonin boost we could all use right now, non? Roksanda – a designer loved for her artful use of colour – gave us concertina dresses in salmon pinks, primary blues took on a fresh new feel in Preen’s Japanese-inspired collection, and A.W.A.K.E handed us our new office-appropriate uniform: an origami dress in brick red with white naked sandals.
After Miuccia Prada’s AW19 homage to Wednesday Addams, it was only a matter of time before all things spooky hit the mainstream. While there was a significant amount of black on the streets of London Fashion Week this season, what we saw on the catwalks was less gothic horror show, more moody teen. Designers will have us reliving our emo phase for SS20, with Preen's dramatic dresses made up of folds and pleats, east London-based cool-girl favourite Marques’Almeida bringing printed tees front and centre, and Simone Rocha imbuing her signature femininity with a touch of darkness.