Fashion Week

London Fashion Week's Quiet Rebirth

From newer creative directors further establishing their visions to young designers refreshing their eponymous brands, a thoughtful wave of change swept through the British city at the turn of a new decade.
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Photo courtesy of Burberry

A fresh energy has penetrated the fashion world. It started in New York, where Tom Ford's first fashion week as the new CFDA chair, the return of the runway spin, and all-out events like Rihanna's secret Savage X Fenty performance got industry people buzzing. And now, that wave has continued through London, which is rife with forward-thinking creativity but often takes a backseat as exhausted supermodels and editors rest up between a grueling NYFW and upcoming shows in Milan and Paris. But this time around, the artful crew that shows in the British city has commanded the world's attention, captivating attendees with creations that take established motifs into timely new directions.

Perhaps the most obvious allusion to this general trend of nuanced change was Burberry's show. Entitled "Evolution," the collection was Riccardo Tisci's third at the helm and continued to ponder how the sensual Italian designer can highlight a modern and diverse Britain while staying true to the heritage brand's identity. Everyone seems to sarcastically wish you luck with the (implied bland) food before a London trip, not seeming to realize the city today has any cuisine you could ask for, and it's the same with the fashion. Don't get me wrong—trenchcoats are still an iconic British sartorial symbol and are going to be chic forever—but it's no longer possible to define a country's style by one aesthetic. Thus, Tisci continued to use the brand's signature tailoring and heritage prints throughout the collection but also offered a broader perspective through movement, silhouette, and additional forays into eveningwear. Fran Summers closed the show in a fluffy white cocktail number following a string of looks embracing silver, sparkle, and decadent appliqués, showing that the Burberry that dressed Rosalía at the VMAs may be exactly what's here to stay.

Photo via Instagram / @mollygoddard

Other designers continued upon creative journeys within their eponymous brands, celebrating what's brought them to sartorial prominence while adding something strikingly new. Christopher Kane was one of these, continuing to use his work to explore desire but this time through an earth-minded lens. His collection, which he called "Ecosexual," was grabby in a moment when sustainability is on everyone's minds (especially following the Fashion Pact's launch three weeks back), and the lightly provocative and hard-to-define term is really one to get people talking. Michael Halpern, who has dazzled the world with his Studio 54-esque glamour, continued to hone into that but explored new forms of maximalism in varied structures and colors. Molly Goddard, who has built her name on maximalist tulle creations that earned spots on Killing Eve and in the Met, explored a more wearable, daytime-ready approach to her signature material in a move that was similar to Brandon Maxwell, who had brought the essence of his modern glamour to jeans and crop tops last week in New York. And Jonathan Anderson, who has been exploring the power of playful structure and proportion through his eponymous line JW Anderson, presented a dreamy collection of silver capes, fluid eveningwear, and shiny rope framing many of the models' chests. Taking inspiration from the gaze and the ephemeral, the designer created a visual language that was at once rooted in history and perfectly at home during a time in which Instagram culture is the norm.

 

Photo via Instagram / @jw_anderson

Fashion is on the verge of a new decade, and while it's sometimes easy to forget the significance of that in a fast-paced environment that changes 24/7, London's design talents seemed to keep that frontier central this season. Whether through up-and-comers continuing to find their voice or household names showing a continued ability to innovate, London is truly offering a futuristic vision. After fashion spent the last ten years looking back at seemingly every source of nostalgia under the sun, the world couldn't be more ready for something new, and maybe this subtle reinvention is exactly where that lies.

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