The London Fashion Week shows have been a riot of creativity and hopeful defiance against the pervading gloom of the global political landscape. Rather than smouldering in dark hues and gray trends, the Fall 2017 collections have been laden with high-wattage sequins, bold silhouettes, and acute tailoring that rethinks garment anatomy. In a week that’s seen the rise and rise of Moroccan model Nora Attal (who walked for Burberry, Simone Rocha, and Versus Versace, to name but a few), an increase in hijab-wearing street style stars, and rising luxury brands such as Malone Souliers presenting ever-strong collections, the UK capital has elicited a consistent buzz. Reporting from the front row and amongst the street style throng, Vogue Arabia edits the key looks from the London runways.
Christopher Kane’s Fall 2017 offering was a notable moment for the fashion house, releasing itself from the shackles of having a restrictive seasonal theme. The show notes neatly placed on the seats referenced craftsmanship, factory workers, and lab technicians, while the soundtrack to the show repeated the word “process” to deafening effect. Subversive? No. More like a refocus on the work that goes into a new collection, and a confident repose that spontaneity and free falling design are credible, too.
This freedom manifested as so-wearable separates with understated premium sensibilities––a white shirt lined with monochrome stripes––and offbeat flapper dresses boldly lavished with paillettes, sitting on a bed of Gainsborough Silks (established in 1903, no less). It worked.
Burberry Spring 2017 was the highly-anticipated event of the London leg of fashion week, with live music, a screaming crowd that gathered outside the entrance, a meandering trail of seats for A-listers, and a newfound theme. Christopher Bailey’s exploration of the life works of Henry Moore truly bore excellent grounding for expressive forms––the heel of the black ankle boots were instantly recognisable as the form-shifting sculptures of Moore, a fellow Yorkshireman. The Instagrammable, break-the-internet moment came in the finale, when all models filed out in unique capes and creations that referenced Elizabethan England and a bygone era of Romanticism.
Erdem Moralioglu drew upon his Turkish and Anglo heritage to fuse together a collection that reflected the history of the Ottoman empire, with a 2017 sartorial spin. Dresses with matching coats, sheer layering, and lots of sequins tapped into Eastern folklore with modest, longline garments that will transition across multiple cultures with elegance.
Predictably edgy and urbane, the Marques ’ Almeida collection was inspired by Malick Sidibé’s photos of children in Mali, referencing monochrome checkerboard dashed across mannish tailoring. Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida’s exploration of cutting edge ways of creating photogenic but louche clothing is on-point for fall, once again.
Backstage after her show, Alice Temperley was elated to have wrapped yet another collection to rapturous applause. Upstairs in the Old Banking Hall in London’s financial district, the designer recommended “the super pretty sequin separates” for the Middle Eastern customer. The Fall 2017 offering was styled by Caroline Issa, who told Vogue Arabia to go for the “powder baby blue jumper and sequin skirts” for instant easy-glamour. While the show began on a peculiar homespun, Lederhosen look, it evolved into a sequence of elegant dresses that Temperley fans will want to copy/paste into their capsule wardrobes.
Confident, striking, and sophisticated in its application, the Mary Katrantzou show unravelled to the music of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, hidden from front row view. The threads were a sartorial reaction to Walt Disney’s 1940 surrealist cartoon, Fantasia, resulting in evocative floor-grazing hemlines, tonal montages of bugle beads that were etched into dresses with in-built swish, and the glitter-laden, chunky-heel shoes that had the audience spellbound.
London-based American designer Michael Halpern––freshly graduated from a Central Saint Martins MA course and with experience at Oscar de la Renta fixed on his CV––showcased a glamazon’s dream in the form of sequin-dosed separates primed for the bravest of red carpet turns. With his first collection already stocked on Matchesfashion.com, this trailblazer is one to watch.
London, over and out. Over to you, Milan.