As is always the case when Britain's creative capital is concerned, London Fashion Week was a mixed bag of eccentricities. One minute Erdem was serving up dream girl looks in the National Portrait Gallery and, the next, CSM MA graduate Edward Mahoney was sending condom dresses and 'Trumpettos' down the catwalk. Only in London. Before we move on to our coverage of the Milan shows, here are some standout moments from the last few days.
Christopher Bailey went out with a bang at Burberry
After 17 years at Burberry, Christopher Bailey said his goodbyes this season with what ended up being London Fashion Week's most discussed (and Instagrammed) show. In the show notes, Bailey stated that his final collection was "dedicated to – and in support of- some of the best and brightest organisations supporting LGBTQ+ youth around the world." The result of these efforts was an uplifting collection full of rainbows, which made their way into the majority of the 100+ piece collection. Many of the designs were new-era iterations of Burberry classics, from its macs and puffer jackets to tracksuits and slogan T-shirts, House Check scarves and oversized shopper bags. To bring the show to a close, Cara Delevingne strode down the catwalk wearing a huge rainbow cape, walking beneath a dramatic prism of lasers in – you guessed it – rainbow hues.
Erdem took over the National Portrait Gallery
Erdem, the quiet, well-mannered designer who's rumoured to be designing Meghan Markle's wedding dress, is not usually the kind of designer to court controversy. But this week, for one day only, this changed. Erdem's AW18 collection made headlines, but for all the wrong reasons; he decided to put on his show in the National Portrait Gallery, which caused an outcry because, tragically, this meant that the gallery was closed off to the general public for the morning. Shock! But who wants to look at paintings, anyway, when dreamier clothes exist? Erdem drew inspiration from the 30s for his latest wares, showcasing drop-waisted slip dresses, exquisite floral-print satin coats, floaty chiffon frocks and tailored tweed jackets. Sumptuous black veils, high socks and long gloves completed the ladylike look.
Ashish celebrated London's diversity
You can always count on Ashish Gupta to bring a bit of colour and sparkle to the catwalk (top marks to Preen and Halpern for adopting similarly decadent aesthetics for AW18, too, by the way. It's soothing to know that we'll all be pulling out the sequins again this Christmas), and this season he did it again. Gupta took inspiration from different cultures – including patterns and silhouettes rooted in his Indian heritage – in celebration of London's diverse population and the quirks that come with it. Cue lots of larger-than-life colour and irreverent accessorising. It's not really an Ashish show if there isn't some statement-making slogan action going on, so fans of the label will have been pleased to find more tongue-in-cheek social commentary thrown into the mix. In the firing line this time? Fat cat financial institutions and American consumerism. Visa became Viva L'Amore, Mastercard Masterbate, and American Express got a look in, too, with American Excess.
Mary Katrantzou combined unlikely inspirations
Can you believe it's been ten years since Mary Katranztou first wowed the London fashion crowd with her psychadelic photographic floral prints and architectural silhouettes? Her AW18 collection was testament to how far she's come. Katrantzou brought together two very different styles, Bauhaus modernism and Victoriana-style flounce, and somehow made them work side-by-side. Lavish floral prints, which looked like they'd been pulled off the walls of stately homes, were given a modern twist with graphic colour-blocked stripes and curved 'BAUHAUS' slogans. The best pieces? Sculptural, rounded jackets, adorned with fringed trims and more wallpaper-esque prints, that nodded to the memorable collections that brought the designer to where she is today. Isn't it nice when things come full-circle?