LONDON—Somewhere between the grungy-looking, anti-fur protesters who greeted visitors at 180 Strand—the heart of London Fashion Week (LFW)—and the pink, punk-rock hair-dos, visible upon entering the main show venue for the Spring/Summer 2019 collections, lies the truth about British fashion.
As this go-round of the bi-annual catwalks proved, there is little question that Blighty style is as irreverent, outrageous and edgy as it’s always been. LFW featured a collision of the creative freedom of the Swinging Sixties with trends such as digital prints, fluid fashion design, and the long-lasting affair with all-things street-wear.
Perched between the more commercial and much more conservative New York Fashion Week, and its more gentrified Milan counterpart, London looks and feels the freshest and most upstart of the four fashion weeks that make up the month-long ready-to-wear season that wraps October 2 in Paris.
With so many free-thinking designers following in the footsteps of British originals like Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen, for anyone interested in originality it’s a space worth watching—especially when it comes to wild looks. Here are the best of the week.
MM6 Maison Margiela
Going from the basketball court to a nightclub in a dashing, violet hoodie-style sports-suit, complete with a bling ‘Marigela’ logo emblazoned across the chest, is now possible thanks to the Belgian brand’s MM6 label.
One standout outfit was completed with white socks, worn with matching Japanese-style flipflops featuring ankle laces. The MM6 S/S2019 collection also included a touch of romanticism, in the form of ragged-looking silk dresses. Ripped leather, jeans with tassels, and random materials hung like sweaters around models’ bodies added a grungy feel.
Who else can say they scored the Queen of England to sit front row at their fashion show, other than British darling Richard Quinn?
This season, Her Maj. was apparently busy, so Quinn invited 100 uniformed school children to watch his Spring/Summer 2019 collection instead. There was lots of black to offset the busy prints. A scary-looking black tutu, tied with a bow around one shoulder and worn over a shimmering black body suit, is bound to make someone somewhere a distinctive belle of the ball.
You have got to love the feminine swirl of prints, shoulders, ruffles, and florals, combined with sporty-looking Victorian underwear-style shorts made from technical nylon fabrics that gave this pretty collection the occasional tomboy moment. The label drew upon the styles of fortune tellers, gypsies, and digital nomads for this light and breezy outing.
Nigerian-born Duro Olowu called upon bright African colors and playful prints to create lounge-style suits and more, presented in stately British surroundings, for his Spring/Summer 2019 ready-to-wear show.
The eye-catching combination of stripes and patterns, featured in aristocratic-looking dresses from yesteryear, popped both color and combination-wise. Looks were completed with multi-colored, feathered headpieces that could brighten up even the gloomiest London morning.
If you have ever wondered about going out in a T-shirt dress with the words ‘Foreplay’ or “sexual cannibalism” printed across the chest, now’s your chance, thanks to British designer Christopher Kane.
His S/S2019 collection, questioned sex and power, and the eye of the beholder versus the vision of the subject—not object. Don’t forget the courtly red shoes, worn with some of the glittering eveningwear designs for Kane’s shimmering party queens.
Erdem called upon the spirits of two Victorian cross-dressers, Frederick William Park and Thomas Ernest Boulton, who found themselves accused of buggery in a British court and who might have found themselves more at home in today’s fashion-and-gender fluid universe. In this collection there were women wearing the trousers and men sporting tassled, black 1920’s styled dresses, paired with pink gloves and pale yellow shoes.
Stamp collectors everywhere, your fashion moment has arrived. To celebrate her first decade in fashion, British designer Mary Katrantzou sent out a collection featuring stamp prints and bank note designs, ordered like graphics, each dress more original than the last. Consider a dress made from white netting enmeshed in dripping flowers, which incorporated a built-in cropped jacket made of transparent plastic.
British designer JW Anderson tries to cater for women that don’t want to look like fashion victims. However, his S/S2019 models looked as if they had descended into the depths of fashion madness to create outfits that looked more make-it-up-as-we-go-along, rather than sophisticated or stylish.
The collection of Central Saint Martin’s graduate and rising star, Michael Halpern, was inspired by the 1960s and portraits of his Bronx grandmother. Halpern incorporated his love of disco, with glittering dresses and matching hats, into this dizzying, beautiful collection that included pencil trousers, mini skirts and bright, graphic prints.
If you are looking for an over-sized frilly dress that looks inspired by a theatrical Viktor & Rolf couture show, look no further than Molly Goddard.