Fashion has always been at play in Londoners’ life. No matter the social status, gender or beliefs, they would show the rest of the country that coming to this hectic city is worthwhile. Even if just to stare at its streets full of various silhouettes and shapes, inspired by the multicultural heritage of its citizens and clashing subcultures. In awe of the beauty and the grit of the ‘Big Smoke’, fashion designers continue to document and retell the history that’s constructed before their eyes.
SS23 was no exception. Taking place during the period of national mourning after the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the event proved that fashion is not the idle game it can sometimes seem. It provides sociopolitcal commentary, provokes us to ask ourselves questions about the systems we were born into, and finally creates utopias for us to exist and thrive in if the harsh reality won’t bow to our will.
Despite a few big shows being cancelled or rescheduled, the designers brought their A Game. From Daniel W. Fletcher championing the royal anarchist, Poster Girl indulging in their Y2K sexy fantasies to KWK by KAY KWOK rendering the digital realms, the choice of characters to embody in the coming season is vast. To make it a tad easier, we gathered all of our favourite ones in one place. Voilà!
Stand and Deliver, with a title inspired by the New Romanic icon Adam & The Ants, painted a homage to past and present wonderful outcasts scattered through the generations who made London their home. From the King’s Road punks, Soho’s late-night regulars and Savile Row tailors to absurd aristocracy, Fletcher presented a warped timeline of the city, reconstructing its forms to fit the modern day. Subversving corsets into schoolboy silhouettes and featuring the chocolate brown leather blazer the collection gives a nod the queer scene legacy through the history. Working with luxury deadstock materials, it’s Fletcher’s most sustainable collection up to date. Stand and Deliver is a love-letter to the city that has-been and a collective dream of what it still can be.
Once Y2K has entered the serious fashion stakes, it’s hard to get rid of. Why would we though? Especially when it comes in a form of killer cute nostalgia thanks to Poster Girl. The Sex Never Left show, led by an all-female creative team, elevates the notion of gentle femininity into a sensual spectacle presented through the non-male gaze. Rhinestoned for the gods, cut-out silhouettes and belted micro-skirts had our hearts racing to let them slowly melt a second later, wrapped in the silk chiffon dresses. This season, The Poster Girl is a sexy seductress, mature enough to know when to switch from laser engraved latexwear into flowy madness. The contrast of the styles, effortlessly clashing on the runway makes us excited to slay the new sexy.
A Chinese designer made their London comeback to give us a glimpse of digi-forward fashion. Picking up from the survival story of the last season, KWK rises from the ashes, dressed in the New-Gen warriors’ worthy attire. The designer’s abstract functionality is at its best in geometrical cropped blazers and matching mini-skirts, mega-exaggerated garments with well-rounded shoulders and super-cool-cut trousers. We stan the metal elements incorporated in the designs, the liquidy graphics and full-body steel-like construction featuring an alien skeleton. KAYKWOK has been to the future and came back to give us a heads-up. Much appreciated.
Charlotte Knowles and Alexandre Arsenault smoothed into the space of cool comfort as for SS23 they didn’t divert too far from their well-recognized staples. To the beats of stomping techno in Kings’ Cross emptied the bunker-like building, KNWLS showed acid washes trenches, cut-out denim and ring-studded leather assemble. The textural, occasionally glitter-covered, hairstyles added extra freaky chic to the classically deconstructed silhouettes. From earthy tones, bleached blue to a tad dirty lavender, KNWLS reintroduces their 2000s queen as a crafty savage serving peak-a-boo daydreams and odd-shaped bags.
The walls of the West Londons Victorian mansion stayed silent during Dilara’s Freedom is a Two Edged Sword show. Revisiting the quiet awkwardness of her upbringing, the designer invited guests into their personal spiritual journey of burying trauma and rebirth. Blending punk mentality with Victorian musings and various Anatolian techniques, the collection seduced us with its yearning for freedom, split into four stages: trapped child, chained good girl, the funeral of Dilara’s own past and her re-birth. The show took us to emotional places often overlooked in the everyday havoc, to a land in-between purgatory and heaven, where real beauty lives. The transparent, embroidered hair dress, Phoenix-like feathered gowns and torn-to-be-pieced-together, lingerie-inspired pieces embodied the pain and pleasure of transcending beyond familiar suffering and into something new. Perhaps ecstasy.