London Fashion Week closed on Monday with strong shows from two Irish designers of very different generations with very different approaches.
Fashion week veteran Paul Costelloe was back in form with his winter collection – made to order rather than ready to wear – which was shown in the Waldorf Hotel's Palm Court ballroom in Aldwych.
Team Costelloe was out in force to support him – his opera singer daughter Jessica and his second youngest son, William, a fine artist (who also sings) and who now works for the company, bringing to it fresh energy and skills.
William’s graphic prints on high-tech bodysuits and leggings were a counterpoint to his father’s tailoring, either in oversize Scottish tweed coats, shawl collared blousons or 1980s-style sharp-shouldered jackets. The printed leggings really stood out, worn with snakeskin stilettos or under chunky tweed dresses, particularly one in graphic panels of yellow, black, white and red topped with black jackets.
The versatility of the daywear’s shapes extended to evening wear’s luxurious silks worn with beaten metal accessories in silver and gold. Baby doll dresses with balloon sleeves, predictable Costelloe favourites, were joined this time by full-skirted black dresses and jumpsuits with plunging necklines in painterly florals or bold daisy prints.
Jumpsuits didn’t feature at JW Anderson’s show at Yeomanry House, where craftsmanship, daring shapes and textural richness marked his latest collection.
As the creative head of both his own brand and Loewe, the Northern Irish designer, now a trustee of the V&A and a respected curator, is considered fashion’s most prolific designer.
This was an enthralling show right from the start, with huge tented coats, their shape amplified with massive leather collars, and balloon-shaped dresses in textured knits making immediately strong statements.
Metallics shone through this collection, for the first time, one dress in particular looking as if composed of gold fish scales, with another full-length gown in shining silver metalwork, while others were fashioned in sparkling gold metallics or iridescent fabrics.
The emphasis was on sparkle and shade and craftmanship – the transformative power of light reflecting fabric was abundantly clear.
Balloon shapes in black and gold enveloped models in dense textures like the clothes of ancient eastern European shepherds, but elsewhere, little knit dresses with integrated shawl tops and sweeping oversize blankets over glittering skirts referenced and elevated domestic handwork, celebrating craftmanship in whatever form – in metal, knit, silk or leather.
This was a powerful, accessible collection, less perverse than usual, but one that made a dramatic impact and showed Anderson’s mettle in every sense.
London Fashion Week: key trends
As the second stop on the month-long fashion circuit, what were the key trends for winter 2020 at London Fashion Week?
1.Winter is looking bright: With few exceptions, saturated hues dominated the autumn/winter catwalks. Bold colours and standout shades were evident at Preen, Halpern, and Marques Almeida, with a series of looks in cobalt, fuschia and yellow.
2. Suit Up: Tailoring continues its firm hold for autumn/winter. Business suiting complete with check ties and oversize collars was a theme in many collections, including Peter Petrov with slice-cut collars and wrapped blazers.
3. Big Dress Energy: It was everywhere, voluminous dresses being a stand out trend on the catwalk, everywhere from Molly Goddard and Richard Quinn to Simone Rocha and Roksanda – Richard Malone played with oversized wired shapes with an architectural twist.
4. Rixo x Christian Lacroix: Lacroix, whose collaboration with Dries Van Noten, made for some remarkable pieces, joined forces this season with Rixo for a capsule collection. Unveiled at the Kimpson Fitzroy Hotel ballroom, the see-now-buy-now limited edition collection features Lacroix's dynamic prints on Rixo's signature silhouettes – an exuberant mix of polka dots, dogtooth prints and sunset hued patterns.
5. The Eighties Remix: From mini dresses with bubble hems at Richard Quinn to bright taffeta at 16 Arlington, eighties deb-style dresses may be the party hit this winter. Puff sleeves were everywhere.