This weekend, London Fashion Week returned to England's capital, though without the usual glitz and glam the industry is known for. Falling within the official 10-day mourning period that traditionally comes after the death of a monarch, the tone was somber and subdued. Though, with this being the biggest London Fashion Week in years, excitement for the future of British fashion was palpable — even without big name draws like Burberry, whose show was rescheduled for September 26, and Raf Simons, who canceled outright.
Alongside British fashion industry staples like Molly Goddard, JW Anderson, Christopher Kane, and Simone Rocha, this season's condensed schedule really packed a punch. We saw fashion be creative, sexy, fun, silly, punky, classic, messy, and glamorous — and often all at once. Scroll on to see seven major trends that stood out this season.
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Ruffles & Ruching
London's runways have made it clear that the It-fabric this season is ruffled or ruched — and even better if it's both. While some designers went for the less is more approach with their fabric use (ruffled, belt-like-skirts at Poster Girl and asymmetric Y2K ruffle dresses at KNWLS), others took maximalism to a whole new level (Halpern, Simone Rocha, and, of course, the queen of ruffles herself, Molly Goddard).
The winners of this trend are the designers manipulating their materials in unique and unconventional ways. So, the pinch-ruching and layering of squares of tulle at Susan Fang to create chaotic, airy, cloud-like dresses. Or Masha Popova's ability to manipulate denim into soft, figure-hugging designs.
Spring 2022 runways had tights, last season had gloves, but this season? 'Twas all about socks. Whether you opt for a pair embellished with tassels (SS Daley) or pearls (Simone Rocha) or printed with farmyard animals (Chopova Lowena) or flowers (Yuhan Wang), the motive this season is to make our calf-covers the star of the show.
It is undeniable: the most classic of all prints, the polka dot, is back. We spotted the trend — pun intended — at Molly Goddard, Halpern, and Bora Aksu. The beauty of this trend is there really is no way to go wrong with it. At London Fashion Week, it was played out both big and bold, and small and dainty; on sheer, Peter Pan collar blouses and billowing ball gowns; in classic black and white and in shimmery metallics. It's a trend that we also spotted at NYFW Spring 2023 shows — this season Proenza Schouler, Alaïa, Batsheva, and Studio 189 are also polka fans.
Last season, designers were all about exposing the body with sheer layers; the season before that, they couldn’t get over the corset trend. For spring 2023, they’ve gone one step further, with a trend all about how clothes are pieced together and — notably — how easily they can come apart. At many shows, this was translated in recognizable ways: at Erdem, dresses were either left half unpainted or practically cut to slivers, their frayed edges clearly visible; at Eftychia, lines of delicate buttons were left undone, creeping up the sides of models’ skirts or across the front of dresses, carelessly left open. Susan Fang, Rejina Pyo, and JW Anderson each offered loose, spiderwebbed, or fisherman knits — one tug and they’ll unravel. Simone Rocha helped puffs of tulle explode from cut-outs, purposefully attached chunky, exposed zippers just begging to be undone, and let buckled, utilitarian straps dangle temptingly.
Our favorite take on this trend though comes from Christopher Kane, whose silky, lace-edged slip dresses, light knits, and sequin skirts were held together with clear, plastic harnesses, but also screenprints of dissected arms and legs. The literal "what’s underneath it all" brought to the forefront.
How to bring this very impractical runway trend into your own life? It’s all about those details: buckles, frayed edges, lace-up attachments, exposed zips, and asymmetric cut-outs (bonus points if they’re held together with one or two buttons that you can slyly pop open).
Big & Bold Belts
Sure, this trend is rather ironic for a season when most designers were artfully pulling apart their designs, but statement belts there were abound. Yuhan Wang had '60s flowers, David Koma pearl-encrusted starfish, and at Chopova Lowena, everything from thick, leather, bejeweled belts to chunky chains. Poster Girl did it best though, using their early 2000s, Coyote Ugly-esque, diamanté buckles around waists, on necks as chokers, and on arms as sleeves.
We could have just titled this trend "metallics" but there’s something so bright and brash about spring 2023’s offerings that it screams "Y2K pop sensation." We’re talking the return of metallic denim at AGR, Helen Anthony, and Masha Popova; iridescent neoprene at David Koma, tinfoil-lamé at Simone Rocha; and Paris Hilton-esque, metallic chainmail at Poster Girl.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, though unknowingly aware of quite how significant it would be this season, British culture was definitely on designers’ minds. For some, it was more literal — Poster Girl and Dilara Findikoglu re-worked the Union Jack into their designs. For others, it was a more subtle commentary on "traditional" British life. Molly Goddard offered classic toile prints of quaint, countryside life and SS Daley a whole host of British references; from traditional argyle to botanical motifs; references to the British monarchy, postcards, and Beatrix Potter animals.
Our favorite though has to be Chopova Lowena. Founded by fellow Central Saint Martins graduates Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena-Irons, they play on both Bulgarian (Chopova's heritage) and British culture (Lowena-Irons' birthright) and traditional dress. The result is a punky mismatch of bold rose prints and motifs, and their already iconic, reworked plaid and tartan mini skirts.