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The Transformation and Rebirth of London Fashion Week

By: bianjibang Nov. 20,2021
LONDON - At first glance, it looked as if London Fashion Week was back on track. On Friday, a huge industrial-style showroom was packed, filled with headphone-wearing publicists and security guards, floor to ceiling - glowing screens playing social content (the venue was sponsored by TikTok) and a dense crowd of fashion celebrities.
They were so excited to congratulate Nisi Dodjaka, the Albanian-born, now London-based designer who earlier this month became the latest winner of the LVMH award for creating sophisticated little black dresses with minimal materials.

It was her solo runway debut, and after a long and difficult 18 months, most of the local audience was unmasked and the atmosphere was warm, reflecting a cautious but optimistic mood. After all, everyone is happy to see talented newcomers emerge, especially when the fashion world is still feeling dull and depressed.

As with New York Fashion Week, there was no real international audience involved. This is naturally a result of travel restrictions, but may also be due to the absence of big brands like Burberry, Christopher Kane and JW Anderson. That doesn't mean the participants didn't have a big show in mind - just to do it their own way.
In Hyde Park's Serpentine Gallery, Roxander Irincic presented "Leap Her Shadow," a dance performance in which the dancers, symbolizing coral, chrysanthemum, peridot and merlot grapes, were dressed with a decidedly feminine flair as they ran and twirled with their clothes flowing, capturing "the dynamic energy of change," according to the show notes. dynamic energy".
Twenty-four hours later, at the same venue, under a full moon, Harris Reid turned second-hand wedding and day dresses bought from an Oxfam charity store into a stunning small-scale London debut of a unisex collection of nine monochrome semi-high-cut and tailless gowns.
Ousmane Yousefzada, known for his sculptural tailoring and recent social activism, was also thinking about the life cycle of clothing: he showed a silk alternative fabric made from sustainably sourced wood pulp. And at the London Aquatics Centre on Sunday, the British diving Olympic team kicked off Regina Park's fashion show.
"I think what we're feeling at the moment is a desire for freedom, and I think the most freeing place to be is in the water," said Regina Park, who is eight months pregnant with her second child. Models walking around the pool wore thin, sheer blouses, swimsuit-inspired pieces and see-through mesh dresses with shadow-printed patterns designed by her in a refreshing use of colors like green, ochre and pink.
Motherhood, new life and new beginnings became somewhat of a theme. Molly Goddard, who is on maternity leave after the birth of her son, has come up with a more approachable take on her signature oversized brand style. She's added basic clothing categories like wide-legged jeans and neon-toned Aran-inspired knitwear, offered more menswear and, inspired by smaller children's clothing, introduced scaled-down versions of her layered, oversized smock dresses.
And then there's Simone Rocha, who gave birth to her daughter in May of this year, who offered musings on mother-daughter relationships in the shadowy cloisters of St. Bartholomew's Cathedral. It's a medieval church in a cul-de-sac in one of London's oldest neighborhoods. She recalled her signature designs, such as layered white communion gowns, pearl jewelry, faux leather biker jackets and thick-soled boots. There were also diamond-encrusted nursing bras, ribbon christening wraps, and coats and women's lace-up pajamas with patterns inspired by vintage colored sheets.
"I couldn't help but project myself into the pieces and be affected by the experience," Rocha said after her show - notably the only event of the London fashion season where masks were encouraged at the door - that brought some audience members to tears. "I've had a lot of sleepless nights. It was exhausting. But in the end, I'm honored to be back here, to show and share my latest inspiration in person."
Richard Quinn sat in the most star-studded front row of Fashion Week, surrounded by the likes of Boy George and Kate Moss (who came to see her model daughter, Lila Moss, walk the opening show) and trailed by photographers behind him. The ultimate showman, Quinn emphasized some of his signature brand trademarks - such as big prints all over, studded and spiked leather coats, and luxurious dresses layered over tapered pants. However, Quinn occasionally paid almost flirtatious homage to other designers, including to Balenciaga's Demna Gvasaria.
So how do you nurture and encourage the next generation of designers? Like Dorjaka, whose confident and sexy pieces subtly congeal the desire of many young women to show off their bodies after staying at home for months. Or Supriya Lailai, who made it to the final round of the LVMH Awards, playing with the concept of revealing and hiding through asymmetrical shapes and bare skin.
And then there was Charles Jeffrey, another LVMH finalist, who led guests, including London Mayor Sadiq Khan, into the cavernous industrial-style nightclub Electrowerkz, where he let his treasures - exaggerated silhouettes and flamboyant punk-esque splatter patterns - meet them in turn, with the runway models being a group of London's underground cool kids.
British accessories brand Mulberry celebrated the company's 50th anniversary by inviting up-and-coming designers to redesign some of its classic handbags, while giving them the freedom to take on new inspirations. Following in the footsteps of Priya Ahluwalia and Nicholas Daley, the brand recently collaborated with Richard Malone at the Victoria and Albert Museum, where he put his exploration of the jewel tones of Ireland's craft heritage on models to walk the runway in the Renaissance Collection display.
But perhaps another broader shift in industry attitudes is needed: a genuine acceptance of the combination of digital displays and physical runways as a way of viewing new fashion. For those accustomed to the drama and spectacle of the runway, or to seeing garments and fabrics up close, this can be a complicated transition. But for designers, walking the runway live can be financially and emotionally stressful, a fact that was widely acknowledged even before the epidemic. If the survival of brands is the industry's top priority, habits need to change.
For example: Emilia Wickstead and Victoria Beckham both opted for a digital-first format. Wickstead created a video that paid homage to French New Wave cinema, redesigning her dresses and pieces with fruity colors and floral patterns. And Beckham's business styling photos included clean-cut trench coats and jackets with one-piece corseted tops and pants that reflected her preference for men's silhouettes, as well as big backless silk halter dresses.
Digital creativity was indeed on full display. With a short vintage-inspired video from the 1970s plus styled photos in GIF form, Woolmark Award winner Marty Bowan's colorful, highly stylized crocheted shawls, knitted stockings and recycled fabric evening gowns also added more psychedelic effects than ever. And Michael Harpoon produced a video starring principal dancers from the Royal Ballet Academy in evening gowns, showing full energy in motion.
"I wanted to support the performing arts community in London and the dancers who have endured so many trials and tribulations with amazing self-discipline and determination," he said backstage at the shoot earlier this month, while standing next to colorful tops with neat fringe, balled-up ponchos encrusted with Swarovski crystals and silky evening gowns. "After all the uncertainty, I wanted to capture the joy of them returning to the stage, standing tall and letting everything move on."
Emotions similar to these created one of the most touching scenes of the week. On Sunday night, as guests gathered under the colonnade of the British Museum to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Eldam Morarioglu's debut, a storm fell from the sky. The designer is passionate about using maverick figures from British history as inspiration; this season it was the turn of poet Edith Sitwell and aristocratic philanthropist Ottlyn Morrell. Their influence gave birth to designs with embroidered flowers and bold prints, corseted silhouettes and hats from the time of Edward VII, romantic white lace gowns and quite scrappy men's tuxedos; an ode to survival and a love letter to the maverick soul of London.


"I feel very lucky to be made into an independent fashion label in London, thanks entirely to all the people who made this possible," Morariog wrote in his show notes.
As the final show progressed, a rare double rainbow broke through the clouds and hung proudly in the gloomy sky.


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