London Fashion Week is waking up: As much as the city has been called the “creator” of the four capitals of fashion, this season designers who survived the pandemic put on their commercial hats, embraced sustainability and body diversity.
In this long game of fashion, designers have come to understand the importance of creating collections that are democratic and inclusive.
Sophie Albou at Paul & Joe presented her collection in a grand ballroom at The Langham Hotel, fitting for her twee cottagecore collection with bright pastel shades and pretty floral prints. It was inspired by the children’s novel The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Albout’s light tweed pieces and checkered dungarees would fit right into a film adaptation as they would into the wardrobes of wealthy young women and their daughters.
Rixo co-founders Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McCloskey will have their Spring 2023 collection available and will expand the UK size range from 6 to 24 – for a mid-price business like theirs, it’s a key move, especially when Catherine, Princess of Wales is wearing it. your designs. The collection included more than 100 looks, which feels tedious to navigate, but is exactly what their British customers want. The hit pieces were Blake & Apple and Kamilla with bohemian prints reminiscent of vintage Biba designs.
Phoebe English, who has kept a quiet profile in the industry, is busy making beautifully cut clothes on her own terms. It’s answering to no one but itself, and despite being snubbed by some of its shareholders, the slow road has led to convenient, noise-free, sustainable separations for men and women. If English continues on this path, she could find herself the next Margaret Howell, who in 2020 had a brand worth £150 million.
For a new generation designer, Feben Vemmenby of Feben managed to find the right balance between clothing and creativity for her first physical show. Her collection took cues from spirituality with tarot card references printed on patterned dresses made in collaboration with artisans in Accra, Ghana. Vemmenby had the help of veteran stylist Karen Binns, who counts Bianca Saunders, Afrobeat artist Wizkid and Tori Amos as clients. Feben is stocked at retailers such as Browns, Farfetch and Ssense, which is a testament to its promising future.
Alice Temperley of Temperley London has gone through hurdles, from moving studios from Notting Hill to the countryside; dealing with the pandemic and having to stop shipping to Russia, where a large amount of its sales came from.
“It was significant enough to be a problem, but we actually redirected it [Russia-bound] shares in other countries where there was demand,” she said. However, the appetite for her opulent bohemian designs has lasted, and now she’s expanding it with more glittering Art Deco-inspired pieces. Temperley’s glittering tuxedos and sparkling gowns are guaranteed to resonate with the brand’s English aristocrats and Tatler Toff customers.
House of Sunny founder Sunny Williams has been making waves with a Gen-Z audience for a long time. The brand, which launches overtime during London Fashion Week, has built a community of psychedelic knitted sweaters and dresses – and fans of the label include Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner.
Since launching the line in 2011, Williams has been dedicated to creating two collections a year with small units, a consistent practice that has remained intact for over a decade now.
His Spring 2023 collection was also moving slowly. He titled it “Take Your Time” based on the little pleasures of the holidays: tiny fruit prints on bikinis and off-the-shoulder sweaters; dusk pink on oversized shirts; green and blue gradient zippered jackets to resemble the crystal clear sea and large bags for day and mini versions for night.
For her first independent presentation, London-based Romanian shoe designer Ancuta Sarca, a finalist in this year’s Andam Fashion Awards, offered stylish, well-crafted shoes that stay true to the brand’s reuse and recycling ethos.
Models sported backless spiked heels fashioned from revamped Nike sneakers, aqua shoes, thong sandals and clogs next to macho motorbikes while wearing custom-made Skims bodysuits. Sarca also unveiled a pair of loafers, made with parts from Vans’ signature slip-on and Sk8-hi style, as part of a partnership with the VF Corp.-owned brand.
Paria Farzaneh took the fashion crowd to the Phoenix Garden in central London for her first show in two years. For her latest show, she blew up a field in Amersham and donned military-inspired looks. This time, Farzaneh seemed to be in a calmer place as she looked at the many nomadic tribes in Iran, where her parents are from.
She also used bold colors and patterns used by this group of people, who still reject the mainstream version of modern society, to build a collection about diversity, inclusion and courage. Standouts included a red crop top with side slits, layered blue shorts and a round neck lace shirt.
South Korean fashion designer Goom Heo, who was shortlisted for this year’s LVMH Prize for Young Designers, released her spring 2023 menswear collection in the form of a lookbook during London Fashion Week. The designer offered hyper-sexual acid-washed denim pieces, as if they were made for the Spartans or Lil Nas X.
Heo was inspired by the subversive works of Swiss photographer Karlheinz Weinberger. The raw, rebellious attitude captured by Weinberger in the ’50s and ’60s came through in the lookbook, where the energy of homoerotic fantasy was off the charts.
Calypso, the Afro-Caribbean music that originated in Trinidad & Tobago during the early to mid-19th century, was the starting point for Nicholas Daley’s Spring 2023 menswear collection. He looked at how these Calypso artists dress and then put a personal and modern spin on it.
This season’s key pieces were high-waisted trousers, open collar shirts and five-pocket waistcoats, and paisley, floral and zigzag patterns. The color palette was inspired by Belafonte’s iconic sun-drenched album artwork, while the lookbook paid homage to Irving Penn’s Small Business series.
While a handful of designers took on a commercial strategy for London Fashion Week’s biggest schedule in a while, Turkish-British designer Dilara Findikoglu hit the ground running for her comeback runway show after taking a hiatus. Her shows often have a quirky way of entertaining, with music and theatrics, while at the same time engaging you with the clothes her characters are wearing.
This season there was only silence with the sound of bells ringing from shoes and the occasional screeching of cloths being dragged across the old floorboards. After the show, Findikoglu said he wanted to reflect “that trapped feeling throughout the collection,” which really, after a pandemic with a global recession and cost-of-living crisis at play, the last thing anyone needs is to reflect how bleak reality can be.