Our Top Ten Shows from London Fashion Week AW23
The fashion month(s) are behind us and the dust has settled. One thing I can tell you, London did not come to play. Here are our top ten London shows from this season.
- Standing Ground
Fashion East is a non profit incubator established in 2000 that aims to highlight and nurture upcoming designers. As fashion is always looking for the next big thing, their shows are always highly anticipated and as per usual they didn’t disappoint. Three very different designers showed as part of their show and Standing Ground by Michael Stewart stole the show.
At first, the pieces look overly simple. Upon closer inspection however, it is clear to see that they are very carefully crafted.There’s a certain level of self-assuredness that is necessary to produce such a collection but in truth these pieces are craftsmanship personified. From hidden hand moulded hip-pads to long slender column dresses, Stewart showed how you can make the most noise with a carefully curated whisper.
Fashion East is supposed to introduce the world to the designers that deserved to be heard, Stewart far qualifies for this level of amplification.
- Natasha Zinko
When you think of Marvel inspired clothing you don’t think of high fashion and somehow Zinko has done just that. Zinko cited the monster within as her inspiration, honing into She-Hulk for inspiration. This was seen with the styling and makeup from tilted reading glasses to a light brush of green on necks and hands being a consistent motif across looks.
While some elements, such as the green muscle belts, were perhaps a bit too on the nose, the ragged edges of dresses, distressed denim and pronounced shoulder outerwear was fun. Ultimately it felt very personal, in this era of everything blurring into one between seasons, designers and shows, it was nice to see a comic book loving designer puncture the norm with some fun comic book inspired clothing.
- Di Petsa
Highly anticipated is minimising the excitement felt about Dimitra Petsa’s newest offering. Ethereal, maternal, water creature-esque beautiful pieces are what her brand is known for and this season she dove deeper into her Greek heritage for inspiration. We were presented with more wet-look illusion pieces and innovative maternity styles which have become Di Petsa signatures, although this time there was a new technique of panelling leather and velvet.
Spirituality, being in touch with your inner goddess and rebirth were key themes of the show, a deliberate message from Petsa of growing through darkness into light. Calming, beautiful and strong.
Emotion is a key driver behind the best designers but even more so with 16Arlington’s creative director Marco Capaldo. This collection he explored the word “wake” both the literal meaning and feelings since the 2021 passing of his co-founder and life partner Kikka Cavenati and the multiple coffees he relied on to keep working on the brand during the hardest times.
Thus in this collection we were presented with coffee browns and funeral-appropriate blacks but also bright whites and even egg motifs. Exploring another interpretation of the word “wake”, this time meaning to wake up to a chance at a new beginning. This new beginning? Menswear. For the first time ever there were menswear looks, which were well thought out and intentional, complimenting the highly-popular womenswear looks.
Once again 16Arlington were a shining star of LFW, rising like a phoenix from the ashes, shining bright in the wake of such a devastating loss.
- David Koma
Balancing playfulness and conversation-provoking pieces with expert and somewhat serious tailoring can easily err on the side of costume. However, that’s not the case with David Koma. Best known for his party-style dresses with shimmery fabric and accents, Koma simultaneously dialled it back and dialled it up this season.
Sharp, seriously sexy and borderline dangerous was this season’s aesthetic. The David Koma woman is in a new era and red is her colour. While we also saw pinks, yellows and purples; red was by far the defining colour of this collection (and the season across all 4 major fashion weeks), from the set designs to the multiple monochromatic red looks.
Beyond the twists and turns from classic silhouettes that we know, love and to some extent are bored of, Koma gave us texture. We were presented with furs, mesh, frills, and three-dimensional flower motifs and sequins.
We know Koma does sexy well, but clearly he also does tailored suits as well. There were many suited looks complete with ties in different forms from classic silk to necklace style. This was not what we expected but instead what we needed. Koma is leading the pack, effortlessly.
- Richard Quinn
Last season Richard Quinn stole the show at LFW by creating 22 new looks in 10 days for his SS23 show in tribute to Queen Elizabeth II after she passed. As the first winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design and the only recipient to be presented the award by the Queen herself, he felt it was very important to immortalise his appreciation in the best way he knew how.
Now, months later a marked change can be felt in his AW23 collection. Known for his bright and colourful designs, featuring all-black looks for the first time in SS23, this season we saw some of that black still present.
He’s dialled it back from the loud prints and arguably showman-esque designs he became known for and focused on the seriousness that’s classically associated with artisans. Craftsmanship was at the forefront of every look, each piece perfected with meticulous attention.
This is a tale as old as time; often designers simply don’t have the resources to hire the experts needed to make garments that do their designs justice. This refinement has been years in the making and it’s nice to see Quinn return to his Central Saint Martins route. Hopefully though he doesn’t veer too far away from what made him unique and beloved, but that’s what’s exciting about new designers, the unbounding unknown is the best part.
- JW Anderson
The forever fave, king of keeping fashion fun, the poster-boy of keeping that graduate show freshness did not disappoint. Following on from his successful, playful and whimsical men’s show during Milan Men’s week, Anderson continued that conversation but with a difference.
Playing with proportions and the line between couture and ready to wear was what Anderson presented us with this season. From oversized lapel jackets that are guaranteed to be highly converted to a tesco plastic bag mini that you can’t help but smile at, Anderson gave us it all.
Inspired by an equally iconic agent of injecting fun into art: Michale Clark; Anderson aimed to merge his work over the last 15 yeast with Clark’s archive of work. This resulted in a spectacular part tribute, part collab – all proof that the only one that can beat Anderson is a new version of himself.
The cost of fashion is rising, leading to commerciality being at the forefront of designer’s minds more than ever, and we’re seeing a lot of similarities between designers and fashion weeks, leading to a monotonous feel. Anderson has ignored all of this and dug deep into his own unique version of Britishness, and it works.
This season Erdem gave us something fresh but not unfamiliar. He had his signature tailoring featuring sharp lines, his dark florals and a clear, consistent theme. Nonetheless this collection wasn’t tired or old.
When remodelling his London home with his architect husband, they discovered snippets of the lives of more than 3000s women who lived there during the Victorian era. Erdem began to research these everyday working women and the lives they lived; inspiring a collection that explored this relationship with traditional Victorian society’s self-repression and the rebellious women during the period.
So, we were presented with a smart double breasted coat but in bright yellow floral and with an unfinished hem, structured plain black blazers paired with voluminous puffy sleeves. The nods to the Victorian era are clear with a few corset style dresses and a heavy featuring of lace.
While the Erdem woman isn’t living in Victorian times, he’s encouraging her to rebel in her own way. Whatever that looks like to her. In this era (and those before it), women are constantly pulled in every direction whilst consistently encouraged not to follow their own mind; the beauty in rebellion is an important message to send and share.
- Nensi Dojaka
The Nensi Dojaka woman likes her body just as it is, and more importantly loves showing it off. When you hear of a Dojaka design you immediately conjure images of cut out, barely there and sheer dresses that somehow toe the line between overt sexuality and soft femininity.
However, there is a fear with a designer that has a clear point of view that it can get old. Thankfully for the LVMH and BFC award winner that wasn’t the case. Eternally inspired by her customer, this season Dojaka dialled it back and showed her version of minimalism. This meant some of her fan favourites in slightly different ways but also new fabrics and more importantly more body types.
From velvet maxi dresses to outerwear, Dojaka expanded her horizons to designs for the party girl when she’s not at the party. She also moved away from her signature LBDs. While they still featured, we also were presented with an ethereal looking white tulle gown donned in Swarovski crystals and pearls. The aptly named “snowdrop” dress was designed to mimic snowdrops.
All in all the biggest achievement of this collection is growth. From the introduction of new shoes and silhouettes to expanding her design repertoire to include more body shapes, styles and occasions. Plus, all without compromising on the sensual, soft, feminine essence of the brand.
This collection was the first without Riccardo Tisci and the first with Daniel Lee, the man responsible for Bottega’s comeback. So, it comes as no surprise that this was one of the most sought after shows of LFW.
As a British designer at a quintessential British brand with a highly respected British designer as your mentor, it should come as no surprise that Lee chose to return Burberry to its roots. If this wasn’t clear, the creative direction and logo change in the SS23 campaign made that point certain.
As Thomas Burberry was most famous for inventing the trench coat in 1901 for the British army, Lee’s return to the brand’s roots meant the collection had a heavily utilitarian theme. From trenches in different fabrics (including fur) to plethora of plaids in different colours and wellington boots. This mix between quintessential britishness but with a punk element and ultimately fun is what Lee tried to communicate through the pieces.
Overall, it was interesting but not mind blowing. However, considering what he did in just 3 years at Bottega and the dramatic rumours following his exit; we can guarantee that Lee at Burberry will be far from boring.
What are the LFW AW23 shows you are still thinking about? Tweet us and let us know @guapmag.
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