Courtesy of the designers; Crutchley: Eamonn McCormack / BFC; Maximilian: Chris Yates
Style Points is a weekly column on how fashion intersects with the rest of the world.
Based on appearances from recently concluded London Fashion Week, designers have spent their lockdown downtime either digging deeper into fashion history or craving the underground lights and EDM drops. As New York Fashion Week saw a new emphasis on understated, trend-proof dress style, London’s talent took it one step further. Some of the more notable shows fell into two camps: there were those who respected tradition, although viewed very well through a modern lens. And those who have pushed the limits of the body-con as a dump valve for all the locked up club kids.
The body-con agenda has been favored by brands like Maximilian, Supriya Lele, KNWLS and Nensi Dojaka. Presenting as part of Fashion East, the group exhibition dedicated to emerging talent, Maximilian Davis was inspired by memories of family trips to Trinidad and the risky style of the Bond Girls, especially in the Caribbean of 1962. Dr No, for its range with bright colors and heavy cutouts incorporating military and diving elements. Lele reinvented staples like a simple men’s tank top, which has been transformed into a sleeveless dress, and worked keyhole cutouts and ethereal mesh into her minimalist looks.
KNWLS’s Charlotte Knowles and Alexandre Arsenault, known for their approach to corsetting, showed off well-cut low-rise pants and leather designs with a western twist, along with their iconic underwear. And right after winning the LVMH award, Dojaka called it a “wardrobe for the new world” offering, featuring lingerie patterns, cool cutouts and inventive tights. All four have made their wheelhouse a skin-tight, flesh-revealing wheelhouse, but this season the looks have felt more fully realized, less like clubland fantasies and more adjacent to the real world. (Amidst all of this body awareness, however, it’s worth noting that it would have been nice to see a wider range of body shapes represented.)
Meanwhile, Emilia Wickstead, Erdem, Roksanda, and Edward Crutchley hit the books, returning to past chapters, channeling historic holding. Wickstead cited the frequent touchstone of the fashion world of 1961 Last year in Marienbad, but many of his creations seemed to be of an even older vintage; his performance notes cited “a mixture of ancient and modern proportions”. In the midst of the 1960s references, there was a touch of Bridgerton effect in some of her loose, voluminous skirts and romantic necklines, not to mention the location of her lookbook, a maze at the Badminton Estate in Gloucestershire. Roksanda Ilinčić’s pieces also played with volume, most winningly in a luxurious bright green gown that wouldn’t be out of place for Daphne Bridgerton herself.
One of fashion history’s biggest enthusiasts, Erdem Moralıoğlu, has adopted twin muses for spring 2022: Bloomsbury regulars Edith Sitwell and Ottoline Morrell. The two towering British icons (literally: both women stood around six feet tall), their eccentric and often anachronistic style led to a collection that skillfully zigzagged between periods with Bill and Ted’s giddiness. And Crutchley took inspiration from England’s LGBTQ history, citing a 1728 newspaper article about the “male women” who were jailed and tried for cross-dressing, but also celebrating the vibrant and too little-known queer cultural spaces of that time. He opened and closed his show with richly textured basket dresses that didn’t mind gender restrictions, creating the perfect fusion of Old World and New.
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