Are you ready for your close-up? London Fashion gets straight to the detail.

Scaled-back. Streamlined. Slimmed down. However you want to look at it, London Fashion Week is getting more and more compact. But whatever that may say about the health of the event itself, from a writer’s perspective it’s largely a positive. There’s more time to breathe; more breaks from the constant cycle of snapping, uploading, and posting; and time, too, to consider the shows you’ve just seen – and to weigh their impact more carefully than you usually might.


Jamie Wei Huang Fall/Winter 2019 show in London. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.

And on the face of Day 1’s shows, London’s designers seemed to be thinking differently too. Take Jamie Wei Huang, who brought her audience to the tiny riverside church of St. Mary-at-Lambeth, filling the space with a zig-zagging labyrinth of benches spaced so closely that there was barely space for the models to stomp through. But the convoluted route and close quarters allowed for the collection to be viewed in a far more intimate way – as a collection of impressions and details, instead of head-on total looks. Boots weighted down with blocky chrome heels; greatcoats in sleek black or brushed-wool plaids with staggered hems and doubled-up sleeves; fine lacings snaking across slouchy corduroy two-pieces and striped lurex shirts; zip details outlined with fuzzy contrast colour; unfinished cable knit sweaters splashed with noughts-and-crosses grids, and scattered with the designer’s initials. It was only when the models clattered down from the church’s mezzanine for the finale that you saw the bigger picture – a playful, cleverly-patchworked collection that converted the half-conscious cool of teenage uniforms into clothes any grown-up could covet.

ASAI Fall/Winter 2019 show in London. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.


Downriver, at 180 Strand, Asai’s A Sai Ta was keeping things small-scale too. In his first outing post-Fashion East, the designer kept his much-hyped tie-dyed, second-skin tees to the fore, grounding a collection which celebrated subtly-worked textures and cuts. The showspace’s new layout brought the audience much closer to the action – and, as a result, elements which might have not have read from a distance were given the chance to shine. Sculpted overcoats and swaggering trousers in soft browns were daubed with hints of a metallic sheen, while neutral separates were sprigged with tone-on-tone leaf prints. And every exit came built up of quiet clashes – plaid coat with houndstooth lining over diagonal-banded separates over a thickly ruffled tee, for example, all in a blend of caramel, copper, and orange. Or an all-monochrome look that combined houndstooth, broken geometrics, and zebra stripes, topped off with melange-knit socks. These were clothes to be unravelled at leisure, not instantly consumed; clothes designed for the wearer’s pleasure, not for an audience.

Bora Aksu Fall/Winter 2019 show in London. Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION.


Bora Aksu, one of the longest-serving names on the day’s schedule, kept closely to his trademark frills and thrills. But even there, amidst all the demure softness and barely-there pastels, there were points of dissonance – from the gleam of iridescent metallics, giving his romantic frocks a slithery disco edge, to tailored jackets spliced with knitwear and tightly-cropped, subtly sculpted suits.


Backstage at the Kiko Kostadinov Fall/Winter 2019 show in London. Photos by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.

At Covent Garden’s Swiss Church, later in the afternoon, Laura and Deanna Fanning also kept things tightly focused (at least when it came to the setting). Two rings of chairs, framed by giant orange boulders, provided the backdrop to their latest outing for Kiko Kostadinov. But where their debut last season had been confidently, intricately restrained, this time out there was a far bolder approach on show. Hyper-contrast colours and materials – everything from nylon and lycra to velvet and tweed – accentuated surreal silhouettes, sending the viewer’s eye racing for a baseline amongst the flurries of stripes, jagged seams, and jutting 3D details.


ZILVER Fall/Winter 2019 presentation in London. Photos by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.

For its second season, Pedro Lourenço’s eco-line Zilver stripped things back to bare bones. Staged in a near-empty Soho basement, models walked one by one towards a camera lens in streamlined denim, chopped-up leather, and pristine white poplin. The clothes were clear, and clean, with staccato graphic details and bursts of texture – but the message behind them was largely invisible. Those crisp jeans, with pristine white turn-ups? Cut from recycled denim and produced with reused water. The slimline puffer jackets? Recycled nylon, their padding made from plastic bottles. Of course, the collection’s appeal was far more immediate – but the point it made about the potential for sustainable design (an issue British fashion at large has yet to convincingly tackle) was arguably more compelling. 

Small shows, intimate settings, subtle details. But that didn’t mean London’s designers weren’t looking at the bigger picture. Asai’s show notes cited Isambard Brunel and August Sander, while Zilver’s spaceman-meets-shearling aesthetic referenced everything from cult photographer Karlheinz Weinberger to NASA uniforms. Aksu and the Fannings also looked to space, via cult Eighties sci-fi movie On the Silver Globe and pioneering cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, respectively. The common denominator, amidst all those rippling surfaces and playful textures and thoughtful details? A search, it seemed, for escape.

SHARE
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
SIMILAR ARTICLES
Vulnerable Masculinity and Versatile Workwear
By Elisabeta Tudor
While the first two days of the Paris' Fall/Winter 2020 menswear shows showed that several brands...
By Elisabeta Tudor
While the first two days of the Paris' Fall/Winter 2020 menswear shows showed that several brands were turning to more formal styling, this third day was marked by a less assertive, more fluid take on masculinity.  Chinese designer Sean Suen explored fluid tailoring infused with dark romance. His...
While the first two days of the Paris' Fall/Winter 2020 menswear shows showed that several brands were turning to more formal styling, this third day was marked by a less assertive, more fluid take on masculinity.  Chinese designer Sean Suen explored fluid tailoring infused with dark romance. His light workwear pieces came with a hint of sophisticated tailoring. They were characterized by a...
Virgil Abloh’s Tailored Louis Vuitton
By Gianluca Cantaro
The power of today's communication and branding are tools...
By Gianluca Cantaro
The power of today's communication and branding are tools that big Maisons like Louis Vuitton have mastered and the hype around the acclaimed monogram boosted by name of the designer, Virgil Abloh from Off-White, affected their men's line. Since Abloh...
The power of today's communication and branding are tools that big Maisons like Louis Vuitton have mastered and the hype around the acclaimed monogram boosted by name of the designer, Virgil Abloh from Off-White, affected their men's line. Since Abloh started his master plan and developed the company’s sampling, he has turned the brand into a...
Romanticism in Tailoring by Valentino
By Gianluca Cantaro
The delicate music and voice of Fka Twigs's live performance gave the Valentino show a peculiar...
By Gianluca Cantaro
The delicate music and voice of Fka Twigs's live performance gave the Valentino show a peculiar atmosphere, emphasising romanticism – the main theme of the collection. The tailoring approach that Pierpaolo Piccioli used for jackets, coats, suits and sportswear was stiff and structured. The...
The delicate music and voice of Fka Twigs's live performance gave the Valentino show a peculiar atmosphere, emphasising romanticism – the main theme of the collection. The tailoring approach that Pierpaolo Piccioli used for jackets, coats, suits and sportswear was stiff and structured. The romanticism aspect was expressed by fluid lines mixed with a distinct design: the jackets were opened on...
Formalwear and Future Nostalgia
By Marta Represa & Elisabeta Tudor
Day 2 of Paris Fashion Week kicked off at a derelict building on the 15eme arrondissement with...
By Marta Represa & Elisabeta Tudor
By Marta Represa & Elisabeta Tudor
Day 2 of Paris Fashion Week kicked off at a derelict building on the 15eme arrondissement with the Études show. The Parisian collective has made a name for itself by cleverly anticipating trends ad infusing them with their own identity, creating unpretentious, super covetable collections. If this...
Day 2 of Paris Fashion Week kicked off at a derelict building on the 15eme arrondissement with the Études show. The Parisian collective has made a name for itself by cleverly anticipating trends ad infusing them with their own identity, creating unpretentious, super covetable collections. If this season was no exception, that means we’re in for a tailoring comeback: pleated and tapered trousers...
In Milan Ideas Are Recycled
By Frédéric Martin-Bernard
The fashion industry is forever filled with good intentions. It embraces one cause after another....
By Frédéric Martin-Bernard
By Frédéric Martin-Bernard
The fashion industry is forever filled with good intentions. It embraces one cause after another. Yesterday, it was defending minorities. Today, it fights for the environment. At last week's Pitti Uomo in Florence, you could not even find one single exhibitor who didn't feature a garment crafted...
The fashion industry is forever filled with good intentions. It embraces one cause after another. Yesterday, it was defending minorities. Today, it fights for the environment. At last week's Pitti Uomo in Florence, you could not even find one single exhibitor who didn't feature a garment crafted from eco-friendly or recycled fabrics — a garment that was produced in conditions respectful of...
By Gianluca Cantaro
Gucci abandoned the co-ed formula to go back to fashion week with a proper mens show (58 looks and only 10 were womenswear). "It's my fifth anniversary at the helm of Gucci and I wanted to go back and rediscover all my...
Gucci abandoned the co-ed formula to go back to fashion week with a proper mens show (58 looks and only 10 were womenswear). "It's my fifth anniversary at the helm of Gucci and I wanted to go back and rediscover all my collections," explained Alessandro Michele after the show. "My first collection also happened to...
In Paris '70s Revival and Back-to-Nature Movement
By Marta Represa & Elisabeta Tudor
Sankuanz, Paris Fashion Week’s official opening act this season, moved away from his streetwear...
By Marta Represa & Elisabeta Tudor
By Marta Represa & Elisabeta Tudor
Sankuanz, Paris Fashion Week’s official opening act this season, moved away from his streetwear bread-and-butter without completely abandoning it — after all, the brand is among Hypebeast’s and Ssense’s darlings. Chinese-born designer Shangguan Zhe chose to start his show with a series of sharp...
Sankuanz, Paris Fashion Week’s official opening act this season, moved away from his streetwear bread-and-butter without completely abandoning it — after all, the brand is among Hypebeast’s and Ssense’s darlings. Chinese-born designer Shangguan Zhe chose to start his show with a series of sharp moiré suits for men and women. They were part of an eclectic collection with punk, cyberpunk,...
Menswear on The Rise as Gucci and Ferragamo Return
By Sofia Celeste
Amid a relaxed fashion week that opened with the 25th...
By Sofia Celeste
Amid a relaxed fashion week that opened with the 25th anniversary of Dsquared2 and closed with the return of Gucci to the Milan menswear calendar, designers were upbeat about the future of menswear.   According to a report released by market...
Amid a relaxed fashion week that opened with the 25th anniversary of Dsquared2 and closed with the return of Gucci to the Milan menswear calendar, designers were upbeat about the future of menswear.   According to a report released by market research group Euromonitor International, the menswear sector is forecast to grow 22 percent by 2024 and...