21:40 PM – Versus pumps up the volume
"Fashion has the power to send out a message of hope and unity, especially to the new generation. Versus is about passion, optimism and a fierce statement of equality.” That was Donatella Versace’s statement on her AW17 collection - an in your face onslaught of positivity, passion, and the sort of confidence you only have when you are 20. The show belonged to Bella Hadid, 20 and her sister Gigi, 21 who stomped out in their ankle strap heels and souped up boots, body con dresses slashed every which way, midriffs at the ready, long handkerchiefs of Versace chain mail hanging from their ears, a rectangle of Siouxsie Sioux kohl across their eyes, hair backcombed, teased and mussed up like the bad girls they are. They are the Versus girl. They are young, beautiful and powerful in their influence. And just in case we weren’t sure, they wear their Versus brand boldly, as a banner around their ankles, tight around their necks as a choker.
While they smouldered and strutted, their friends marched around them, a generation of girls and boys who are obsessed with sportswear, luxury tracksuits in cobalt blue, pumped up puffer jackets in Versus newspaper print,the universal tough leather jacket, clothes borrowed from their days snowboarding, running, dancing and living life as large as they can. This isn’t so much generation Z, it’s generation Versus. Donatella Versace never grew up. She’s still with them, dancing to the pounding beat. She’s the tearaway who - through her new gang, the Hadids, the Maliks and the gang of music heads – Will.i.am, Tinie Temper, MIA, all loving the Versace vision – understands how to tap into the kids of today.
18.45 PM – We Want To be part of the Simone Rocha Fantasy
Only majestic places can serve as venues to Simone Rocha's majestic shows. The Lancaster House, once part of the royal palace complex and today a Grade I listed building, was Rocha's pick for her autumn/winter 2017 show. And what a show it was.
There's always something very dual about Simone Rocha's designs - romantic but utilitarian, feminine but rough. No idea in her mind is singular, and that's exactly why the clothes she creates become emotionally engaging. See-through dresses next to oversized faux fur stoles and off-white lace frocks against stark black cross-body bags. Contrast is there, but never the focal point. Every Simone Rocha collection feels like a perfectly in-tune song made out of pleasant harmonies. And we could listen to it for days.
17:38 PM – Emilia Wickstead's Girl has Gone Rogue
Yes she's got a ribbon in her hair, but she's also showing her midriff. Emilia Wickstead's girl has become a rebel. High-waisted jeans and crop tops are her day uniform, but she's still doing romantic gowns for the night. With Alexa Chung, Olivia Palermo and the rest of the fashion A-listers in the front row, it's obvious who Wickstead is talking to through her clothes. And judging by the applause, they are all for the sexier look. Is it just a phase or Wickstead's new self? We'll have to wait until next season to find out.
16:45 PM – palmer // harding and the not-so-classic button-up
Texas sun comes to London via shirting duo extraordinaire palmer // harding. 1990s goth joined 1980s glamazons in a show that continued the brand's core: the not-so-classic classic shirt. The collection also brought a couple of style tricks - knitwear layered under crisp shirting and the comeback of a mid-waist belt. Shirts, dresses, skirts and coats - we want them all.
16:20 PM – Pick and Mix with J Dubs
The thing about J.W. Anderson is that it's a collection of pieces rather than looks. He doesn't intend for you to wear the whole thing head-to-toe. He has the eye of a stylist and a brilliant knack of mixing and mismatching references that come at you so fast and furious and close up that you can barely take them all in, let alone process them. So I'm not going to try. We will leave it to you to look at the pictures, study the video and pick and mix, drape, layer and belt as you will.
15:30 PM – Playful Moments with Ports 1961
It was great to see Ports 1961 showing in London, in many ways it's spiritual home ever since the creative director Natasa Cagalj moved the design studio to London and gathered a creative team around her. The studio is more like a laboratory of ideas, they try things out, cut into a tailored jacket, a slash here, a slash there, try out patches of hand woven textiles placed here or there, play with the cut of a pair of trousers, making two waistbands where ordinarily one would do. There are hand knits a loose way with a shirt, a playfulness that's refreshing to see.
14:39 PM – Molly Goddard's Dinner Dates
Does dressing for a special occasion still exist in 2017? Molly Goddard thinks so.
The queen of tulle took the idea of traditional dinner party clothes for women of all ages and put her own ruched spin on it. A toddler's tutu became a sophisticated item of clothing as Goddard saw it paired with an asymmetrical striped cardigan. There was even trousers, controversial both at a dinner party and as part of a Molly Goddard collection. But the star of the show was (and probably always will be) the tulle dress. Probably the most beautiful one from this collection was in a swamp green with floral embroidery, most probably taking inspiration from Goddard's current exhibition at the NOW gallery.
As the models sat around the table in the middle of the catwalk, sipping on the wine and nibbling some baguettes, it made total sense - when you're wearing Molly Goddard, every day is a special occasion.
13:45 PM – Markus Lupfer keeps it Fresh
Playful, wearable yet highly desirable. Markus Lupfer has been around for a while yet he still succeeds in creating fresh and exciting clothes. And just as with previous seasons, Lupfer's accessories give his femininity that perfect touch of humour. All in all - we want it all.
Markus introduces us to Bertie, his 11 week old pup
11:58 AM – Faustine Steinmetz' trip around the Globe with Denim
Faustine Steinmetz's AW17 collection is a real consolidation of lots of different techniques she has been trying out since starting her label in 2015. She looked at how denim has been worn around the world for the past 30 years - from Israel where bleached out tie dye denim is popular, to Canada where its all about not just double denim but triple denim. The way people wear their denim changes from place to place. She took samples of different denim items sourced from around the world as the inspiration for her own treatments. For the tie-dye look popular in Israel, she used Japanese shibori techniques using denim she has specially commissioned from the Spanish denim mill Royo who have also produced the 35 % recycled denim she is using for a line of more commercial pieces which are much less artisanal than her usual signature. For her Canadian triple denim look, she used a softer material hand woven specially for her by a women's co-operative from the United Nations Ethical Fashion Initiative weavers in Burkina Faso. She's also made it into her version of the puffa jacket - heavily padded with polyester.
Steinmetz has really got inside the denim she is using this season. 'No matter the gender, age or origin, there is one piece of clothing that everybody has had in their wardrobe at some point in their life,' she says. That item is a pair of denim jeans, and Steinmetz is tapping into the universality of denim while also reworking it, innovating and really thinking about the weft, the warp and the whole jeans culture she has loved since she wore her first jeans as a teenager.
With this collection, it was like everything had clicked into place. Everything was there for a reason and everything made complete sense. 'I'm more relaxed as a designer now,' she said. She has taken on a sales agent for the first time this season. You really feel like she has stepped up a level. She is in this for the long haul. And we are looking forward to finally really being able to buy a piece of Faustine Steinmetz for AW17.
11:32 AM –Young Talent Runs Free at Fashion East
Supriya Lele's contemporary vision of Indian-English identity
Fashion East is about raw stories told with youthful excitement. But for autumn/winter 2017, the raw stories were more polished than before.
One of the two newcomers is Supriya Lele whose installation/presentation was a nod to the contrasting ideas of femininity based on the differences between Indian and English cultural identities. Regal and royal yet oh, so very modern.
Mimi Wade's sassy Hitchock blondes
Mimi Wade's Americana Victoriana opened the catwalk part of the show, putting "Dial M for Mimi" on t-shirts and creating a commercial collection that oozes with Californian cool. Lacy, romantic yet powerful - that's the Mimi Wade girl.
The second newcomer for autumn/winter 2017 was ASAI, whose Takeaway collection was all about textile and silhouette explorations told from a street perspective.
ASAI's takeaway clothes
This season's closing of the show belonged to the club kid nouveau Matty Bovan. Apocalyptic, dystopian, fantastical. All those words were jumping out of the deconstructed and purposefully misconstructed knits and crochets, finished off with his signature patches and broken-chandelier jewellery. For his second collection at Fashion East, Bovan didn't tone it down. He turned the volume up yet still succeeded in creating clothes we want to actually wear
Matty Bovan's dystopian knits
10:45 AM – ONEBYME: Rebel, Rebel
ONEBYME are officially the rebels of this's season's London Fashion Week. During their guerrilla dance-off in front of the Tate, just as the Fashion East show was about to start, they got moved from their spot by the police. Why? For making too much noise. And what a great noise they made. Reclaiming the word urban and putting activism on the fashion map, the RCA-funded brand is living its name to the fullest. Maybe not in front of the Tate, but now at 180 the Strand, they are dancing to the beat of their own drums.
09:30 AM – Chalayan’s Lesson in Restraint
Hussein Chalayan has a long standing relationship with Sadler’s Wells. He’s an associate of the theatre. Two of his most memorable shows were held there – his After Words collection for Fall/Winter 2000 with the table that turned into a skirt was a seminal moment and in 2015 he was commissioned to create his own dance piece by the theatre. Gravity Fatigue was critically acclaimed. Chalayan choreographed, directed as well as designing the set and costumes. This morning, the importance of the designer was not lost on the 300 excited fashion students from University of the Arts London who had been invited to the show. These days, students are rarely given access to shows. They started to queue for seats at 6am.
They might have been expecting remote control dresses, moving parts, transformer feats of engineering but instead they were treated to a lesson in restraint and quiet beauty. The collection is called Act to Form and was Chalayan’s comment on how our sense of ‘universal personhood’ is in a state of flux. The collection was inspired by a look at what Chalayan sees as the new ‘isolated individuals that the current world order is generating’. He’s talking about social media, our selfie-fixation, our addiction to our own personal social space. It’s something he’s talked about before describing the self-obsession of a generation as a bit of a syndrome.
How did this manifest itself in the clothes? Well, you’d be hard pressed to make the connection but the series of dresses with panels which were matter of factly ripped off to reveal a small explosion of tinsel and glitter where perhaps symbolic of the empty gestures and what he describes as ‘fake celebrations’ shared on social media. As for the rest, there was plenty to be excited about wearing, timeless tailoring, jackets with shoulders cocooning the body, built in Balkan era, Greek folk costume inspired waistcoats, wrap belts, loose carrot-shaped trousers. What was lost in the theatre setting was the subtlety of the hand drawn Greek costumes, the spontaneous scribbles, the hand embroideries, and the raw edges. But that’s ok, we just need to take a second look, closer this time at some clean, quiet luxury, a very welcome return to London.