There was only one show in town in London this weekend, and that was Radha. But the catwalks of London Fashion Week continued.
“It felt important to continue because this is a time when London needs to stick together and now some of this city’s young designers are in danger of losing their businesses,” designer Jonathan Anderson said after his JW Anderson show.
A black T-shirt printed with the words “Her Majesty The Queen 1926-2022” was included along with a mini dress constructed from plastic computer keys mixed into an alphabet mosaic and a pair of plastic shark fins worn by model and author Emily Ratajkowski.
The catwalk started on a Soho street, crashing through barriers to thwart the crowds that have filled central London all weekend, before winding through a video games arcade.
Backstage after the show, Anderson gleefully defended the inappropriate combination of looks.
“London has felt absolutely incredible over the past week. I have never known an energy like that. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Soho so busy and it’s not all doom and gloom. People are having a drink, but they’re just being really nice, you know? It’s very British.”
The late addition of the T-shirt – with a font copied from the Transport for London tribute posters that appeared at bus stops across the capital on the evening of the Queen’s death – “will remind me what this moment was really about in time. when I look at the pictures of this collection after 20 years”, he added.
The dilemma of whether you should risk looking cheesy by paying homage to the Queen amid party frocks, or appear disrespectful by not doing so, has divided London Fashion Week.
As it happened, Steven Stokey-Daley’s play was about privilege, gender and dysfunction in the British upper classes, but it had nothing to do with the Queen. In the grand Victoriana of the St Pancras Hotel, actors read excerpts from the love letters between Vita Sackville-West and Violet Trefusis.
The 100-year-old words of two women navigating their way through patriarchal society accompanied clothes that were gender-fluid in the style of a 1930s queer gardener tending to Sissinghurst—a calico shirt, wide-leg corduroy pants, a merino sweater .
The mood at Sunday’s shows was low. The champagne trays are out; designer Nancy Dojaka gave each guest a sprig of white hydrangeas instead. But the front row of celebrities appeared at Rejina Pyo’s show, where actor Sharon Horgan and singer Jessie Ware showed up to support the young designer.
On the 28th floor of a new City of London skyscraper, Pyo said he thought about Tolstoy’s quote that “one can live magnificently in this world if one knows how to work and how to love” — and how, when Tolstoy wrote those words, he was thinking only of men.
Pyo, whose tailoring and light-touch beauty have made her an influential force in fashion, wanted to celebrate what a life of work and love for women looks like, she said. A soft trouser suit and stretchy lace dresses worn with low sandals came in lemon, sage, duck egg blue – and, occasionally, black.
Michael Halpern’s show began quietly, with a model wearing a crown-length pale blue gown and a silk scarf tied under her chin.
American-born, the designer will soon become a British citizen and wanted “a quiet moment to say thank you to a country that has given me a career, a friendship, a whole life,” he said.
As soon as the dress came off the catwalk, David Bowie’s “Cat People” started playing and a strapless leopard dress changed the mood.