Despite the lack of mega brands at LFW, there was no void with the sheer number of fresh talents making their debut, thanks to the British Fashion Council’s Newgen initiative, which offered financial support, mentoring and a guaranteed LFW slot at this year’s dedicated showspace, the Old Selfridges Hotel.
The overarching theme of LFW was post-pandemic optimism. Glamorous dresses, sexy cutouts, and ‘club kid’ styles that inspire going out were some of the key trends spotted during this season. This seems to align with the UK’s current zeitgeist, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson ended all Covid-related restrictions last week.
Y2K is here to stay
The unyielding Y2K style made its mark in London again. An array of micro skirts, metallic sheer dresses, and low-rise pants was seen at Poster Girl, Conner Ives, 16Arlington, Dojaka, and Lele.
Poster Girl took on the après ski aesthetic for its debut show. Giving an early 2000s spin to ski-wear, the collection displayed feather-detailed shiny puffers in green and black, alongside hot pink sexy knit bodysuits styled with furry snow boots to complete the look.
Skin, crystals, and fuzz were also the main components of 16Arlington’s FW22 collection. This was the brand’s first outing designed by Marco Capaldo alone since co-founder Kikka Cavenati’s death last November. In tribute to Cavenati, 16Arlington’s signature sheer party dresses were embellished with crystal detailing to resemble tears.
The Y2K baton was then passed to Ives, for an explosive first LFW show. The new Central Saint Martins graduate used his American heritage as the main inspiration for the collection.
“I wanted this collection to be a cross-section of American culture from the early ’00s, when I was growing up, to now,” Ives explained. Fringed skirts and dresses a la Christina Aguilera’s ‘genie in a bottle’ were paired with graphic baby T-shirts bearing Americana symbolism, replicating a slice of early 2000s Californian style but edited for the modern day.
Sustainability on the mind
Designers Richard Malone, Bethany Williams, and Edward Crutchley had their collections centred around sustainability and upcycled materials. Malone’s latest zero-waste collection was created with deadstock fabrics and archive leather by Mulberry and LVMH.
Despite the recycled materials, his collection was not short on luxury.
Skilful drapery for matching ensembles and rich butter leather trench coats in green, blue, yellow, and pink were a focus of Malone’s collection. As he will also produce the collection from upcycled materials, many of the pieces will be made-to-measure and limited edition.
Williams credited her collection, named “The Hands That Heal Us”, to all the skilful artisans and contributors who designed, weaved, knitted, printed, and embroidered every piece of the set. “Through every collection, we work with a growing network of makers, creatives, and local manufacturers,” Williams said.
For the collection’s denim pieces, Williams worked closely with denim specialists at ROAD Consultancy to source recycled and organic-based raw denim that include detachable metal shanks that allow the pieces to be disassembled and easily recycled again after the owner discards them.
The woven textile on the coats was created in collaboration with Mending for Good, a consulting agency that specialises in ethical solutions for luxury brands. “I wanted to re-create a fur collar-like material using deadstock cotton and wool yarns,” Williams said.
Combining the digital and physical worlds, Crutchley presented 21 physical looks and several pieces for the metaverse, as supported by fashion-tech start-up Zero10. Much of the gothic-inspired collection was created with upcycled materials, namely recycled polyester for the intricate bustiers, recycled polyester Lurex for the skirts and recycled leather for the platform boots that accompanied nearly every look.
Glamour takes centre stage
Proportions, volume, and tailoring are just some of the words to describe the fall collections from Bora Aksu, the returning Boateng, Rixo, Molly Goddard, Simone Rocha, David Koma and Harris Reed.
The main inspiration for Erdem was a group of progressive female artists from 1930s Berlin. Pioneers in the LGBTQ+ movement, these women were cross-dressing and opening Germany’s first lesbian bars during a time of war and conversatism. The inspiration resulted in a collection filled with party-ready dresses, as well as pant suits in a variety of patterns.
Rixo’s highly opulent collection was inspired by the same era. One of the most size-inclusive shows at LFW, Rixo’s 30s Hollywood-style dresses were seen on models ranging from UK sizes 6 to 24.
Molly Goddard and Halpern are known for red-carpet gowns, and their collections had an ’80s flare. Goddard’s signature ruffled skirts were contrasted with oversized knitwear inspired by vintage markets from her upbringing in Portobello Road, while Halpern’s bright neon collection took elements from the ’80s, including colour-blocking and loud animal prints.
Koma combined sports and uptown glamour for his collection. Influenced heavily by rugby, Koma transformed rugby jerseys into chic party dresses and played with volumes of fabric to accentuate broad shoulders and a slim waist.
Boateng’s mega comeback was a star-studded event. After more than a decade serving as the creative director of Givenchy Homme, the Savile Row tailor presented a rich collection inspired by his cultural roots in Ghana. Boateng paid homage to Britain’s black creative community by inviting the country’s biggest contributors, such as Idris Elba, Dizzee Rascal and Goldie, to grace the runway.
Perhaps the most eye-catching moment for LFW this season was the head-to-toe latex bodysuit featuring former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Violet Chachki, designed by Richard Quinn. The contradictory-on-purpose collection featured regal silhouettes in intricate floral patterns paired with large head coverings contrasted with traces of fetish culture, such as the gimp mask and latex. Despite the direct reference to sex, Quinn presented sexiness with very little flesh on display.
Kane also took a page from the fetish book and used latex for the key pieces in his fall collection, one being a full latex ball gown with sexy cutouts on the bodice, shown during the finale.
With a background in lingerie design, this season’s breakout star, LVMH Award-winner Dojaka, presented a collection that embraced skin. She has already garnered an A-list following, including Dua Lipa and Bella Hadid. Sheer jumpsuits, body-con dresses and co-ords were the main attractions of this collection, but Dojaka’s skilful tailoring and fabric layering should not go unnoticed.
Other designers that were inspired by sensual undertones included Lele, who showed a spectacularly on-trend collection with sexy cutouts and geometric detailing in bright colours, almost made for Instagram’s ‘It’ girls on a night out.