Subversion, diversity, slogans – the British sense of independence goes well with politicising fashion, and that was proven in London. There were plenty of statement clothes too, with strong trends putting down a marker for other fashion capitals.
Happy and shiny sum it up. A breezy, sunny summer of optimism ignored any Brexit clouds threatening the stability of a £32bn industry. The shine was subtler, and colours have been gentler of late, while soft but strong shapes are for everyone.
Key pieces this year? A shirt with a difference, a touch of 1970s Marrakech and a glimmering gown.
The politics of fashion
Political statements came from some surprising sources. We saw middle-aged models at Victoria Beckham, whose designs are sleekly grown-up these days. There were feminist protest badges at Roland Mouret, on clothes of a gentle but powerful sensuality. Plus-size and disfigured models looked proudly beautiful at Steven Tai.
Elsewhere, young designer Nabil Nayal printed Queen Elizabeth I’s rabble-rousing pre-Spanish Armada speech on to organza, Matty Bovan sprawled graffiti among intricate knitwear, Erdem’s gentle Victoriana homage commented on self-expression in repressive times and Nicholas Kirkwood’s anti-conformist drama showed off highly individual shoes.
Soft but strong
Relaxed, asymmetric cuts that drape and layer are a modern way to dress. Hussein Chalayan has said it for 20 years and now others agree – for JW Anderson and Roland Mouret they’re a mainstay, while Roksanda and Delpozo took a more architectural approach, and Victoria Beckham used them to modernise her A-listers’ style.
The eighties threat may be receding, but a strong shoulder went down well with the Me Too generation. An airy puff in Molly Goddard’s girlish style and Delpozo’s tiny organza ruffles made it sweeter, while Preen took it wider but gently draped and Erdem went for a full-on Victorian high-rise look. Christopher Kane’s triangular silhouette had a harder stance and Simone Rocha wrapped the whole shoulder in a ballooning cape effect.
The newest way with high-shine sequins is to veil them with chiffon for a gentler effect. This was beautifully done with handcrafted details at JW Anderson, under 1930s-style drapes at Markus Lupfer, or beneath a tent of the fabric at Delpozo.
Sequins themselves had a softer glow at Richard Quinn while subtle-shine fabrics looked new too – on every gorgeous print or on soft metallic pleating at Peter Pilotto, in toned-down liquid silver at Roland Mouret, or deep but crinkled gold at Matty Bovan, and in gleaming animal prints at Osman.
Never have shirts been less basic. Delpozo made the striped shirt a glamorous, cape-shouldered dress, Rejina Pyo turned it around to become a back-buttoned tunic, JW Anderson crafted an evening shirt dress with a crochet-bib front and loose, patchwork silk pyjama shirts, and Christopher Kane’s had wide shoulders and jewelled fronts, while Chalayan deconstructed the sleeves.
The bohemian spirit of Yves Saint Laurent’s 1970s Moroccan collection lives on in ultra-luxe chiffon or silk caftan shapes for easy summer evenings. We saw this vibe in classic ocelot-print chiffon at Amanda Wakeley, in neutral striped silk or fresh florals with a stripy edge at Roland Mouret, in spicy stripes at Roksanda and in fine metallic pleats with opulent tasselled belts at Peter Pilotto.