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Following a turbulent New York Fashion Week, where some questioned its value, others accused of lacking diversity and which dozens of American designers decided to ditch in favour of other cities (for yet another season), eyes turned to its European peer – London. Was the Big Smoke going to get that same treatment this season?

Thankfully, the British capital delivered on every single front – from putting the spotlight on new designers, to championing the icons and creating lots of experiential activations, the five days during LFW didn’t disappoint. We’ve rounded the key highlights below.

Bailey takes a bow

Christopher Bailey Burberry

Burberry’s February show was the last one under the creative direction of Christopher Bailey, who chose to dedicate his final collection for the brand to organisations supporting LGBTQ around the world. While the show was a magnificent spectacle, ‘the final soundtrack – Jimmy Somerville singing ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’ – seemed more concerning about a future without Bailey at the helm than celebratory about the brand’s next steps,’ commented fashion historian Dr. Ben Wild. Now that we know Givenchy star Riccardo Tisci is replacing Bailey, it will be fascinating to watch the antidote-of-Bailey designer put his spin on the iconic British brand.

The Queen makes an appearance

No celeb or influencer entrance could even begin to compare with the excitement around The Queen’s appearance at London Fashion Week. Her Majesty was greeted upon arrival by Caroline Rush CBE, Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council (BFC), after which she toured the Designer Showrooms, viewed the collections and meet some of the designers, including a group of NEWGEN budding talents.

She then attended Richard Quinn’s runway show before presenting him with The Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design. The Award, initiated in recognition of the role the fashion industry plays in society and diplomacy, will be awarded annually to an emerging British fashion designer who shows exceptional talent and originality, whilst demonstrating value to the community and/or strong sustainable policies.

the queen richard quinn

London born designer Richard Quinn established his namesake label in 2016 upon graduating from the Fashion MA course at Central Saint Martins. Specialising in womenswear and textiles, his collections are bold and emotive creating a forward thinking unafraid vision. Quinn has been recognised for his exceptional prints and for his ability to combine unique handcrafted skill with a refined high fashion sensibility. Already supplying leading stores around the world, Richard’s ethos of collaboration goes beyond his design business to include the creation of a print studio which offers high quality, accessible services to students and his peer group of emerging designers.

House of Holland’s commercial mindset

The posterchild for a designer from the digital age, Henry Holland, dedicated his latest collection – Grow Up – not so much to a quick runway show but towards the commercial appeal of the looks. “Its more about who our customer is in her day-to-day. Less about putting her in situations that she isn’t always connected to, like she’s a pirate or a boarding school girl,” the designer told Vogue. “It’s still completely House of Holland though. It’s about the stuff she actually wants and needs from me”.

Commenting on the future of the brand, Holland said to Yahoo Style it’s important for each designer to find their way of doing things. “How do we approach things? Is it pre-order? Is it rent the runways? There’s so many different concepts being born out of the global online generation that we’re a part of that I think. The answer is you do it your own way. I think if the way you communicate to your consumer, sell to your consumer, and market to your consumer is unique to you and your brand then it’s just going to strengthen whatever it is that you have and you can just follow your path…essentially, who knows what the future holds.”

Fyodor Golan’s floating globes

Design duo Fyodor Golan created a runway inspired by flight and hot air balloons, with models strutting their stuff in rainbow-coloured garments around a giant inflatable globe. The collection featured a mix of the brand’s signature athleisure trousers and tracksuits. “We pretty much do everything together,’ Golan told Yahoo Style. “There is this constant conversation happening, which can also be not so much in words. I always know what things that he’s seen that inspire him and he knows the same about me. We discover things separately [and] we bring them to one another on an ongoing level. The process puts us in the same headspace; when it’s time to sit down to discuss what we’re doing, we’re already at the same point.”

Fyodor Golan

In terms of new trends and movements they’re into, the two designers agree, Golan details: “We’re both really recognising technology, what it gives us and what it CAN give us. We’re not technical, either of us, we don’t have a clue! But we’ve collaborated with people who do, just because we understand this is where we’re going and we recognise that there is so much good that can be done with it. Fyodor chips in: “It makes life easy, not physically but in terms of openness. You can be connected to almost anybody in any part of the world. It’s amazing..things have changed so much even in the [small time] since we’ve started.”

Emerging designers explore tasteful technology

Unlike putting drones or robots on the runway a la D&G and Philipp Plein, emerging designers at LFW used technology in subtle, more sophisticated ways. Whether that was part of the marketing around the collection, during their fashion presentation or embedded in the garments, the tasteful use of tech helped bring these designers’ vision to life.

We already reported on Sabinna’s digital see now, buy now catwalk as well as Steventai’s augmented fashion presentation. Elsewhere, emerging designer Claire Tagg launched her eponymous label showcasing a dramatic, oriental inspired fauna and flora collection. The AW18 season was inspired by a personal story of her travels as an Air Hostess, combining glamour and destructed textures to creative a dramatic yet opulent range. Tagg’s signature layered aesthetic included the use of digital printing to create rich textures of ripped paper alongside a cherry blossom placement print and elaborate embellishment.

Claire Tagg

Claire Tagg AW18

In the Designer Showrooms we stumbled upon another up-and-coming designer using technology in an incredibly interesting way. Song Wang’s jewellery collections are made with heat sensitive materials and acrylic that create surface patterns when touched by the wearer, to convey people’s interpersonal and outer body emotion within a visible context – a nod to Song’s collections being strongly linked to the connection between human activity and social issues.

Speaking of the Designer Showrooms, this year the space placed a specific importance of Positive Fashion and ways in which we can make the industry more sustainable. Nowhere this commitment was more present than at the Sustainable Angle’s stand, where visitors could question out-dated embedded practices and discovering sustainable innovative fibres and fabrics that are commercially viable and represent the future of fashion. In collaboration with Arizona Muse, the Sustainable Angle showcased pieces by Edeline Lee, Emilia Wickstead, Felder + Felder, Galvan, Georgie Macintyre x Arizona Muse, Roland Mouret
 and Temperley London.

Undeniably, another one for the books, London. See you next season!

Image credit: Images belong to their respective owners.

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