TThe down jacket is everywhere but also the dreams of summer vacations. There is fear for science and scientists and gratitude for the comforts of home. London’s first fully-locked fashion week, which kicked off on Friday, reveals a pandemic fashion industry transformed from a world of escape into one that tentatively sketches what our new normal might look like.
Ninety-five designers, including Alice Temperley, Simone Rocha, Molly Goddard and Erdem will present their collections digitally, as fashion faces its first season with digital-only catwalks. Fashion week last September coincided with a period of more relaxed restrictions and hosted catwalks and in-person dates. With the event coinciding with Monday’s long-awaited reveal of a roadmap out of the lockout, designers hope their new collections will resonate with consumers keen to anticipate future freedoms.
I had a feeling that when we get out of it, it’ll all go a little bit banana, said Temperley, whose latest Glastonbury-inspired collection is called Rock Swagger. Recently we mainly sell day wear, obviously knitwear, outerwear, denim and blouses for Zoom. Our new collection is a mix of clothes we need now and clothes we want when we go out and star in our very own rocknroll movie.
It’s been nice to imagine that life will hopefully be a bit more normal by the time these clothes hit stores, designer Roksanda Ilini said during a Zoom call from her London studio. To bring some glamor to a no-runway fashion week, she enlisted three generations of well-known women to star in a video of her collection filmed on an iPhone at their home during the lockdown. Their identities are under wraps until the Monday premiere online.
The past year has put a whole different perspective on fashion for me, she says. I felt this season should be all about family and home and how precious the little things in life are. She softened her cut, with soft dressing gown-style sashes over oversized jackets. It’s a dressy version of what we wear at home, but still comfortable. We might want to sound a little smarter, but we’ll still want to be comfortable.
The fashion world has been brought back to earth. I think we’ve come to understand how to live better at home, says Emilia Wickstead, whose clothes are the Duchess of Cambridge’s favorite. To cook a good meal rather than coming home late from work and being in a rush all the time. I think we will get the idea to dress at home more than before.
For Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi of Preen, this season is out of our lockdown experience. Easy and comfortable knits and coats you can wrap yourself in. A burnt log fire in the background Zoom in of former Vogue fashion editor Lucinda Chambers, co-designer with Colville’s Molly Molloy, as she was excited about the cut-colored patchwork quilted coats -wind and used tracksuits.
I don’t think anyone is looking for a new black handbag right now, Chambers said. Clothing should improve the lives of everyone involved. The colorful Colvilles handbags, made by a women’s cooperative in Colombia’s Guajira Peninsula, brought income to these women during a year when they had no income from tourism. It is about them as well as us.
The limits and distractions of confined life are reflected everywhere. Milliner Stephen Jones, who has spent his career commuting between London and Paris, pays homage to his love of France in a collection that includes a crescent-shaped velvet hat. Designer Edeline Lee has taken on the lockdown podcast trend and will use her time slot to broadcast an audio-only podcast on clothing and memory, instead of photographs from her latest collection.
Bora Aksu took advantage of an empty Tate Britain to film his collection, which made him appreciate how incredibly lucky we are to have these amazing museums. In search of positive stories from isolation, he found the story of Sophie Germain, renowned physicist and mathematician.
Growing up in revolutionary Paris, Germain was locked inside for security reasons where she turned to her father’s library, discovering a passion for mathematics and physics that would never have been kindled if she had attended girls’ schools at the time, Aksu said. Her collection includes a gold silk taffeta ball gown that symbolizes the awards Germain won for her work.
Aksu isn’t the only designer to honor a scholarly scientific muse this season. Gabriela Hearst, who will soon debut as Chloe’s Creative Director in Paris, also looked beyond the usual icons of the big screen, naming medieval naturalist Hildegarde de Bingen as the inspiration for her label’s latest collection. eponymous New Yorker.
Jane Shepherdson, the ex-Topshop chief who now runs the MyWardrobe rental platform, chaired a London Fashion Week roundtable with Belstaff to mark the expansion of luxury rental and resale models in male fashion. Shepherdson described his rental epiphany when realizing: It was about the only thing that still allowed me to enjoy fashion without feeling guilty.
Sustainability, which is no longer a marginal subject, is fundamentally changing the infrastructure of the industry. Temperley has recently moved its London headquarters to a large Victorian building in the center of Ilminster, Somerset. A shop sells Temperleys clothing, a bar serves cider from his parents’ farm nearby, and on-site manufacturing and storage is under development.
The double whammy of Covid and Brexit has forced Temperley to think outside the box by leaving the capital and producing more clothing in Britain. Leather and tulle are produced in factories in Somerset, while outerwear is made in Dorset. It was so nice to bring life to a building that had been empty for 15 years in the middle of a village. We employ locals and work with local businesses. Covid forced this to happen and to be honest it probably saved us.
London Fashion Week has been criticized by MPs over a new sponsor recruited to guarantee financial support for fashion companies struggling under current economic conditions. Clearpay is a market leader in the Buy It Now credit system, which has become popular with online shoppers during the pandemic.
Clearpay is partnering with established retailers including Marks & Spencer and Asos, but the Financial Conduct Authority has warned that credit checks should become mandatory in order to protect consumers from the debt crisis. Labor MP Stella Creasy wrote a letter, signed by 60 MPs, asking that Clearpay’s promotion during London Fashion Week be accompanied by financial warnings.
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