London party

London Fashion Week: Designers defend sensuality and Hollywood glamor in the eye of the storm

Jhe show must go on.

Never has the phrase been more accurate than during this season at London Fashion Week, which took place amid the high winds of Storm Eunice – considered one of the UK’s worst storms in 30 years.

And yet, despite the rare red warning issued by the Met Office, which urged the public to stay indoors, the proceedings appeared to continue on the podium as usual. Well, almost.

Gone are the gossip sessions and impromptu street style photo shoots that usually take place outside of the venues among the guests.

This time around, the LFW attendees wasted no time getting to safety, clinging to their coats and clips that had been strategically used to hold their hairstyles in place.

Of course, if there’s ever been a crowd better suited to such dire conditions, it’s the fashion pack.

Bora Aksu’s Autumn/Winter 2022 collection was presented at St James The Less Church in Pimlico

(Bora Aksu)

After all, this is an industry that has somehow maintained its biannual showcase throughout a pandemic, adjusting its schedule accordingly and, for one season, moving everything entirely online.

It’s the first season since the start of the coronavirus outbreak that the program has included so many real-life shows.

Fall/Winter 2022 lineup highlights include Molly Goddard, who returns to the runway for the first time since before the pandemic, Halpern, who also hasn’t held a runway show since pre-Covid times, and the Newgen talent Conner Ives, making his LFW debut.

The first, however, was Bora Aksu, the Turkish designer famous for his ruffled dresses and feminist influences.

Taking place at the lavish St James’s Church The Less, the show saw a windswept style ensemble migrate to Pimlico, where they lined pews outfitted with goody bags containing lipsticks from Uoma Beauty – the make-up brand used on the models in the show.

Like many creators, Aksu is inclined towards a muse, and this season drew inspiration from the life of 14th-century writer and historian Christine de Pizan.

Often hailed as Europe’s first feminist, Pizan spent most of her life at the court of King Charles VI of France and overcame countless obstacles to become the first woman to live solely from writing.

Championing the ambition and beauty of Pizan, Aksu’s collection is inspired by Renaissance clothing but reinvented it with a contemporary twist.

Blouses were lined in purple taffeta, for example, and paired with white lace tights and Peter Pan collars.

Peter Pan collars and berets figured prominently in the collection

(Bora Aksu)

Blue was also a key color, drawing inspiration from Pizan’s most famous portrait, in which she is shown at her writing table wearing a long dark blue dress.

For Aksu, the same shade found its way onto cropped jackets, taffeta dresses and tailored plaid coats. As is always the case for Aksu, the collection featured an abundance of tulle, with full skirts in vibrant hues of bubblegum, lilac and peach.

Tailoring was key too, with crisp shirts and structured two-pieces evoking Pizan’s literary flair. However, Aksu’s accessories make up for the feminine aesthetic: tough boots and berets.

An enduring pattern also undermines the entire collection, with Aksu purchasing old, damaged and unwanted fabrics to incorporate into her looks.

“Discoloration and blemishes come to life, displaying a beauty that can only be found in what is unwanted and lost, reflecting Aksu’s desire to show beauty in all its forms,” ​​the show’s notes explain. .

One of the key pieces from the Rixo Fall/Winter 2022 collection.

(Rixo)

Then it was Rixo, the British brand famous for its playful hand-painted prints and cult celebrities, with Holly Willoughby and Sandra Bullock among its fans.

This season Rixo founders Orlagh McCloskey and Henrietta Rix hosted their presentation at Goldsmith’s Hall in St Paul’s. Titled “The Golden Age”, Rixo’s Fall/Winter 2022 collection is inspired by the decadence of 1930s Hollywood.

Adorned with champagne towers and chandeliers, the setting was just as opulent as the clothes themselves. Red poppy prints found their way onto long-sleeved blouses and feather-trimmed dresses, while halter-neck dresses came in bright, mint and buttercup jacquard tones.

Standout pieces included a gold lamé strapless dress with a slow strap skirt and a midnight blue one-shoulder dress adorned with silver fireworks.

There was also plenty of fur trim, adding even more joy to this uplifting collection, with other rich textures found in the velvet and sequin pieces.

As has become a tradition for Rixo, which last season installed three cocktail bars at the Barbican Conservatory, for its LFW exhibition, the presentation itself was its own 1930s party, with models dancing on stage from each side of the crowd as a live band played classic jazz tunes.

Models get into the party spirit at Rixo presentation

(Rixo)

On one side, Campari cocktails were served to the guests and on the other, a glass of sparkling wine from Rixo’s own champagne tower.

Speaking about the theme, McCloskey explained how she and Rix were looking for ways to mark a “celebratory moment.”

“We just wanted to honor dressing up and having fun, and I think that’s been one of our favorite eras in terms of shapes and silhouettes,” she added.

“We still have our classic Rixo looks, but we added that 1930s aesthetic and mixed the sexy with the demure.”

Elevating the collection even further, however, is the fact that its sizes range from 6 to 24 – a first for the brand, and a rarity among its competitors. “This collection is our first extended size range, after years of perfecting the fit, it’s such a proud moment for us to be able to offer this,” adds Rix.

Finally, it was the turn of Nensi Dojaka, the acclaimed Albanian designer (and winner of last year’s prestigious LVMH award for young designers).

Dojaka founded her eponymous label in 2017 while studying at the London College of Fashion and became a cult favorite among Dua Lipa and Bella Hadid.

Renowned for her layered sheer fabrics and exposed seams, she draws inspiration from surrealism and lingerie industry traditions to create delicate one-shoulder dresses, tops, flares, and more.

Model on the runway at Nensi Dojaka

(Nensi Dojaka)

With proceedings beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, the Dojaka show was an early start for the fashion crowd, many of whom arrived at the BFC show space with caffeinated drinks, sunglasses in tow.

The collection stayed true to Dojaka’s signature aesthetic – clingy mesh bodysuits, barely there mini dresses held together by drapes and strings, and stockings with thigh cutouts – but there were high twists.

For example, said bodysuits were worn under tapered pants and sometimes matching blazers.

Meanwhile, her famous mesh panels were given a modest twist, ending up on knee-length cable-knit dresses that sometimes came with long sleeves.

Elsewhere, we’ve seen Dojaka’s flair come through via leather pencil skirts with hip cutouts and lots of exposed backs, waists and thighs across the collection.

One of the models on the runway at Nensi Dojaka was pregnant

(Nensi Dojaka)

Consisting of a neutral palette of taupe, raspberry and burnt orange, the line also saw the introduction of new textures, including velvet (panel dresses will be a staple this holiday season) and sequins.

The models paraded in several two-piece sequined looks, including a completely sheer cream suit worn by a pregnant model.

It was refreshing to see some of Dojaka’s trademark looks on models of different body shapes with plus size pioneer Paloma Elsesser walking the runway in one of her low back bodycon dresses.

Such a diverse cast is still fleetingly rare in London. But it is certainly a step in the right direction. Let’s hope it continues.