London Fashion Week SS17September 23, 2016
Fashion Weeks across the globe including London Fashion Week SS17 have become increasingly topsy-turvy lately. This week the world expects to see womenswear designs for spring/summer 2017, giving everyone plenty of time to ponder what they’ll be wearing in their high street versions of the catwalk favourites, and the high street plenty of time to produce those versions while the magazines plan their photoshoots and decide what to call in with plenty of lead time.
But this is just not fast enough for the Instagram Generation, who are used to seeing, clicking, and having whatever they want delivered to the office the very next day. Waiting three months is unimaginable – it will all be forgotten about by then. It does have overtones of high society Edwardian ladies meeting at their couturiers twice a year to plan their upcoming wardrobes for the season, and waiting patiently for their hand beaded, beribboned and be-fluffed choices to be ready for that important ball. Besides which, the English weather has never been that predictable, and it’s hard to know if we’ll be wanting those spring-like clothes in spring next year, or if we’ll be wanting wintery things or what.
Subverting conventions at London Fashion Week SS17
So, several big hitters of the fashion world have decided to be more commercial and sell their autumn/winter 16 collections in this slot. On the international stage, Tommy Hilfiger and Tom Ford have led the way with this, and Topshop Unique did a collection that was available instantly after the show.
And not only that, but they’re failing to respect traditional gender divisions. Menswear shows are usually in January and June, whilst womenswear runs in February and September, but now that is changing too. High fashion has sometimes shocked by presenting masculine tailoring on womenswear, or feminine cardis on men, but now they’re combining shows and sending men and women down the runway at the same time, and sometimes in the same clothes. Step forward JW Anderson and Teatum Jones.
However, London Fashion Week has always been quite keen on subverting conventions anyway, and the usual questions about the garments haven’t been “Is this appropriate winter wear? Is it the right thing for a man to wear” – rather they tend to be along the lines of “What is it?” This season doesn’t disappoint: here are some highlights.
Teatum Jones at London Fashion Week SS17
Teatum Jones were doing menswear for the first time at London Fashion Week SS17, and they showed it intermingled with the womenswear and with the same themes. I had read that they had been doing a lot of research and spending a lot of time among the LGBT community in Glasgow, which frankly sounds more like “an anthropological expedition to peer at the natives and bring back some of their quaint textiles” or something, rather than “gaining inspiration from some of the most stylish people on the planet”, as LGBT people are known to be.
Whatever. In fact, I’m not sure where their inspiration showed up in any way I can quantify but the collection was attractive and wearable, featuring brightly printed silky bomber jackets, sporty jackets, slip dresses and silky blouses, all in the same print, and graphic scribbles in distinctly 1980s primaries that appeared again on bomber jackets and Bermuda shorts. There were also some sophisticated classic shapes in block colours alongside Teatum Jones’s signature layering of sheer fabrics with different textures, polo necks, leather bustiers and massive pants.
Ryan LO at London Fashion Week SS17
I love Ryan LO. Shiny party dresses for those who missed out when they were a five-year-old? I’m all for that. These ones came complete with your mum’s floppy sun hat pinned up into a pirate hat, lacy ankle socks and absolutely divine silver three bar May Jane shoes, the sort which I could never buy because I know from experience that I would immediately trip up and scuff the toes irreparably (they also came in shiny black, gold, purple and red). The actual knitted pierrot costume was going too far though, Ryan LO.
Moly Goddard is another designer who loves the dressing up box. Last year this new designer looked into pleats, hand smocking and acres of tulle. This season she is showing cute rainbow striped long-sleeved sweaters, tulle layering, including deliberately bulky looking ballet skirts, and ruffled party dresses, along with awkward black and white gingham dresses, a fabric and effect that was also at Shrimps (below). There were also some hoodies and zipped tops to go over the frocks, and t-shirts with an unexpected photo print on them.
Shrimps at London Fashion Week SS17
Shrimps, a label that began making excellent fake fur stoles and accessories in unlikely bright colours and progressed though full-sized fur coats and handbags, is using less and less of its signature material these days. Their London Fashion Week presentation contained one familiar pink fake fur coat, a silky black fake fur stole and a clutch, along with some sweet fleecy cropped sleeve coats and matching dungaree pencil skirts in cream. Otherwise the collection contained a sort of Small Girl From Little House on The Prairie Re-Made theme, with too-big gingham frocks, and cropped pyjama sets accessorised with bed caps. Yes, you did read that right.
JW Anderson at London Fashion Week SS17
JW Anderson has always been keen on gender subversion, and interestingly he said that his womenswear inspiration this time came from Henry VIII and his multilayered, slashed and puffed up jackets. He claims a subversion in translating this silhouette to womenswear, but to me, the peacockery of menswear in the time of Henry VIII has always been an example of what is now considered only acceptable in womenswear, at least since menswear went all boring on us around the nineteenth century.
In any case, the homage wasn’t slavish, with pieces in modern murky khaki, cream and black and white cotton rather than jewel-like silks.
JW Anderson is intensely interested in the juncture between art, fashion and sexuality, and he’s been invited to curate a show entitled “Disobedient Bodies” at the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield next spring. It’s an interesting choice of venue and location for what sounds like quite a daring contemporary show, and having lived in Wakefield, where I was once called a “man-woman” for having short hair I’m not sure how many passers-by will appreciate the objective but I’m personally looking forward to it.
Alice Archer at London Fashion Week SS17
Alice Archer specialises in heavily embroidered pieces that are definitely intended for A list Oscar moments. Although her detailing is exquisite, she seems quite unsure about her shapes and they lurch all over the place, with a floor length gown featuring pink shirt and delicate sheer embroidered top in cream with a ruffle at the neck and hem a definite gorgeous winner, whereas a leather dress with broad scarlet embroidered cummerbund is just tacky, and a skirt suit with a boxy jacket looks frumpy, as does a lavender chiffon dress. The sheer chiffon flasher mac over a scarlet mini dress requires no comment whatsoever. The pyjama suit with long silk trousers surmounted by an intricately ruffled kimono top in navy and black, under which is worn a simple white t-shirt is the elegant standout of the collection.
Gareth Pugh is the established bad boy of London Fashion Week SS17, and this season his work is looking good. His colour way is restricted to black and gold, moving on to purple, white, all-black, silver and white and black and ecru. The final effect is very polished and cohesive, whilst still having some stand out show off items that Lady Gaga would surely be pleased with. A fairly simple black column dress is accessorised with a massive black and gold head corolla, or alternatively you could wear hot pants and a fringed pants with a corset which rises into an impressive standing collar.
These lead into other structured black and gold garments, before giving way to flowing purple chiffon, which quickly segues in 70’s Art Deco revival silver and white Nehru jackets with flares, and kimono tops in the same fabric. Black and ecru op-art effects follow, before an excellent Grace Jones-esque finale featuring hot pants, biker boots and Klaus Nomi jacket cum rising sun headpiece. Splendid.
Roksanda is one of my favourite designers. Her work always possesses a ladylike charm and stunning way with colour, which, married to precision cutting and a careful attention to detail and just the right amount of quirkiness makes hers the work I’d love to own.
This season her fluid tailoring is to the fore, with high-waisted crepe wide-legged trousers paired with silky tops, or layered under dresses. In fact, there’s a lot of layering going on, with dresses over polo necks and dresses over vests, dresses over skirts and dresses over harem pants too. Colours are lovely: cream and peach paired with rusty-red to give some edge; purple, sand and gold. The collection moves from silks you can swim in via some sturdy hounds-tooth tailoring to some pretty summer frocks and on to evening wear in jewelled colours and a crinkled silk, ending with a bang with a voluminous white dress appliquéd with black ostrich feathers.