STORMY WEATHER: STAYING ALIVE AT LFW

If you closed your eyes, you could have been at almost any fashion show, in any time in the last half-century; the tightly-packed seats, the shrieks of delight as guests greeted each other, the quiet hum of gossip in multiple simultaneous languages. But when you opened them, you were unquestionably in 2019 – in the raw concrete, high-ceilinged undercroft of a freshly-built Kings Cross office block, where Alexa Chung (model, presenter, writer, and now designer) was presenting her latest collection


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

Founding her own label, in retrospect, must have been an obvious step for a woman whose laid-back brand of British cool has helped shift products for brands like Mulberry, Superga, Marks & Spencer, and Longchamp. And Chung’s online store is packed with the tomboy shorts, pretty/prim dresses, logo tees, and retro coats that have long defined her personal style. But on the catwalk, this time out, she took a different direction. Triggered by the notion of women banding together for survival, the outerwear-heavy show was dominated by dark tones – glossy black blousons and trenches, belted leather jackets and navy pinafores, midnight-blue blazers and forest-green suits. Even the softer pieces, like a lace-edged velvet dress, came layered with vinyl leggings. Timely though it may have felt, it wasn’t all doom; there were plenty of high-waisted jeans, prairie dresses, and ruffled blouses in the mix to keep Chung’s fanbase engaged – and the Forties-style tea gown she wore to take her post-show bow showed just how easily the collection’s layers could work on their own.

Katie Ann McGuigan Fall/Winter 2019 presentation in London. Photos: Courtesy of PR.


Back at 180 Strand, another designer was also thinking about layering and survival, albeit in a very different way. Katie Ann McGuigan, winner of Fashion Scout’s Merit Award in 2016, has always had an ambitiously constructed vision – but as she acknowledged, there’s been an evolution since that first post-graduate outing. “Not consciously,” she said reflectively. “I think it’s just me progressing into the real world and growing up a bit; trying to understand the woman who wears my clothes, and making sure things are comfortable and practical.” It’s also a real world, of course, and where McGuigan’s path post-university has had to navigate establishing a working fashion business, building a network of local suppliers, and planning a future through uncertain economic times. That process didn’t seem to have constrained her creativity too much, though. (“Oh, if I looked at my sales reports,” she laughed, “the collection would have been completely different!”) For Winter 2019, she’d looked to the Bōsōzoku biker gangs of Japan, filling the BFC’s presentation space with models clad in layer upon layer of pleating, knit, leather, and tulle, their menacing toughness offset by an unexpectedly soft palette of mauve, green, aqua, and ochre. Jumpsuits were spattered with floral embroideries, and biker jackets came flooded with pastel patterns, piled on top of each other with abandon – forming colourful suits of armour that, McGuigan was quick to point out, could be broken up into simple, sellable separates.

Halpern Fall/Winter 2019 show in London. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.


The Art Deco shimmer of the Sheraton Grand on Park Lane made the perfectly escapist location for a collection that engaged far less with 2019’s turbulent mood. Five seasons in, Michael Halpern has built a sturdy reputation on his sequin-heavy, disco-ready approach, and today’s show kept tightly to that formula. Halpern was looking towards Erté, not the end of days – and so his models snaked round the seductively-lit ballroom in halter-neck, jewel-collared column gowns and pleated capes, strapless tops and flowing trousers. There were some spectacular, wildly surreal prints in the mix, as well as liquid-coated ombré separates and gorgeously draped jersey in lemon and fuchsia pink. But it was the relentless, densely-laid sequinned pieces, wrapped and folded round the body, that lingered in the mind after the show. On the surface, they were light-years away from the protective garments Chung and McGuigan proposed. But the purpose of armour has always been as much to dazzle as defend – and Halpern’s gorgeously decadent garments  proclaimed a strength and power of their own.

There was far less sparkle on show at the Seymour Leisure Centre an hour later, where Yasuko Furuta sent her models racing round the runway in blunt, uncluttered tailoring. On the surface, the proposition was pretty simple – outsized, mannish blazers in steel greys and deep blues, setting up a defiantly top-heavy silhouette. And the show notes gave little away; just a terse three word summary, ‘SIGHTLINE, CUTLINE, ALIGN.’ 

But Furuta’s surfaces provided plenty of interest – blazers teamed with mirror-gloss boots and sheer knits, floral-print dresses cinched in with weighty wrestling belts, multicoloured felt-striped knits and coats exploding with feathers. And the constant references to protection, from hooded raincoats to headscarves to waders, recast the iconography of British country clothing – sturdy, nonchalant, quirky, yet pragmatic – into a sleekly visceral new language. 

House of Holland Fall/Winter 2019 show in London. Photos by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.

Henry Holland has always been about keeping with the times, his front rows a barometer for London’s ever-changing line-up of cool kids (once upon a time, Lily Allen and Alexa Chung; now, Lily Allen, her kids, and the cast of Netflix’s Sex Education.) So it was no surprise that his show tapped into Gen Z’s militant mood, with a collection that riffed on rebellion and protest in the breeziest of forms. Holland’s play-revolutionaries stomped along the runway in heavily-laced hiking boots, their army berets and spiked earpieces anchoring quilted nylon greatcoats, denim boilersuits, and cinch-waisted trenches. Up close, there was plenty of detail and texture to add to the story – long-line rainbow-stripe knits, tracksuits in all-over supersized geometrics, clinging skirts in devoré velvet. But the show’s underlying theme was clear, as it had been at shows all through the day. Brace yourselves; stormy times ahead.

SHARE
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
SIMILAR ARTICLES
Gary Green’s Black And White Photographs Delve into NYC’s Punk and Post-Punk Scene
By Sasha Regazzoni
It was the summer of 1976 when American photographer Gary Green moved from the humdrum suburbs of...
By Sasha Regazzoni
It was the summer of 1976 when American photographer Gary Green moved from the humdrum suburbs of Long Island to a two-bedroom apartment in Lower Manhattan, the epicentre of the up and coming anarchistic wave of music known as ‘punk’, to work as a photographer assistant. Coincidentally it was...
It was the summer of 1976 when American photographer Gary Green moved from the humdrum suburbs of Long Island to a two-bedroom apartment in Lower Manhattan, the epicentre of the up and coming anarchistic wave of music known as ‘punk’, to work as a photographer assistant. Coincidentally it was also the year the Ramones released their first album and punk idols Patti Smith, Television and Richard...
Issey Miyake Releases Exclusive Documentary
By Alice Ierace
Issey Miyake released an unpublished docu-film that shows the birth and evolution of the...
By Alice Ierace
Issey Miyake released an unpublished docu-film that shows the birth and evolution of the collection Homme Plissé Issey Miyake and shares a message of freedom, movement and comfort as new codes for men's clothing.Opening with a scene from Flying Bodies, a video that captures the 2013 performance...
Issey Miyake released an unpublished docu-film that shows the birth and evolution of the collection Homme Plissé Issey Miyake and shares a message of freedom, movement and comfort as new codes for men's clothing.Opening with a scene from Flying Bodies, a video that captures the 2013 performance of the Aomori University Men's Rhythmic Gymnastics Team which marks the debut of the collection, the...
OP-Ed: Is Voice Technology the Future of Retail?
By Elisa Carassai
Will the voice-operated assistant change the way we...
By Elisa Carassai
Will the voice-operated assistant change the way we shop?   The first time I came across Amazon’s Alexa, I was amazed by the fact that a voice-operated assistant could work so well. Having Siri on my iPhone, I had never really made use of the...
Will the voice-operated assistant change the way we shop?   The first time I came across Amazon’s Alexa, I was amazed by the fact that a voice-operated assistant could work so well. Having Siri on my iPhone, I had never really made use of the voice-operated system integrated inside my phone, as it would often fail to correctly execute my...
Cult Scandi Brand Cecilie Bahnsen Debuts Shoe Collection With Charles Keith
By Elisa Carassai
Joining forces this week are designers Charles & Keith and Cecile Bahnsen, who collaborated on an...
By Elisa Carassai
Joining forces this week are designers Charles & Keith and Cecile Bahnsen, who collaborated on an exciting shoe line inspired by traditional school-wear. The collection features some of the most classic Charles & Keith shapes and silhouettes which are reinterpreted by Bahnsen and finished with...
Joining forces this week are designers Charles & Keith and Cecile Bahnsen, who collaborated on an exciting shoe line inspired by traditional school-wear. The collection features some of the most classic Charles & Keith shapes and silhouettes which are reinterpreted by Bahnsen and finished with her signature brooch. Four various styles are featured including three Mary Jane designs and a...
Five CBD Brands That Are Doing it Right
By Ludovica Parisi
CBD is being marketed everywhere. From oils and topicals to edibles, there are now infinite ways...
By Ludovica Parisi
CBD is being marketed everywhere. From oils and topicals to edibles, there are now infinite ways to introduce cannabidiols in your lifestyle. However, as buyers get overwhelmed by the number of products being launched every week, companies have to work harder to stand out from the competition....
CBD is being marketed everywhere. From oils and topicals to edibles, there are now infinite ways to introduce cannabidiols in your lifestyle. However, as buyers get overwhelmed by the number of products being launched every week, companies have to work harder to stand out from the competition. So, what is the strategic approach to ensure people’s trust in a product? The answer lies in the...
Cuoio di Toscana Launches Campaign Against Domestic Violence
By Alice Ierace
Italian sole-leather brand Cuoio di Toscana, alongside many companies and institutions of fashion...
By Alice Ierace
Italian sole-leather brand Cuoio di Toscana, alongside many companies and institutions of fashion and luxury leather goods, shared their the commitment to defend women. “Violence against women does not go into quarantine: at the expense of the current moment of emergency, the numbers affecting...
Italian sole-leather brand Cuoio di Toscana, alongside many companies and institutions of fashion and luxury leather goods, shared their the commitment to defend women. “Violence against women does not go into quarantine: at the expense of the current moment of emergency, the numbers affecting this social injury show no sign of diminishing and, if we consider the case of domestic violence in...
Burberry Reports Significant Revenue Loss
By Rebecca Hitchon
Luxury fashion house Burberry has released its preliminary results for the past financial year...
By Rebecca Hitchon
Luxury fashion house Burberry has released its preliminary results for the past financial year ending 28th March, revealing the impact of COVID-19 on the business.Although the report discusses positive responses to its SS20 and AW20 collections and sales higher than expected earlier in the...
Luxury fashion house Burberry has released its preliminary results for the past financial year ending 28th March, revealing the impact of COVID-19 on the business.Although the report discusses positive responses to its SS20 and AW20 collections and sales higher than expected earlier in the year, the outbreak of COVID-19 in late January negatively affected the financial year. Store closures,...
Meryll Rogge’s Last Days of Disco
By Elisa Carassai
New York has always been a source of inspiration for...
By Elisa Carassai
New York has always been a source of inspiration for creatives. From writers, to artists, poets and designers, the city that never sleeps always seems to provide the right canvas for the creation of the most exciting ventures.   One of these...
New York has always been a source of inspiration for creatives. From writers, to artists, poets and designers, the city that never sleeps always seems to provide the right canvas for the creation of the most exciting ventures.   One of these creatives is 35-year-old Meryll Rogge. A former student of Walter Van Beirendock at Antwerp’s Academy...