London Fashion Week: Paul Costelloe among Irish designers with divergent ideas

Richard Malone trailblazes in sustainability while JW Anderson champions craftsmanship

 

Three Irish designers, all male, of different generations, (20s, 30s and 70s) sent out three summer collections that illustrated their very divergent ideas of modern womenswear and womanhood at London Fashion Week today.

Veteran designer Paul Costelloe is fond of revisiting the past when it comes to the spirit and look of his collections, (all pieces only made to order in London), casting young, leggy models in baby doll, off the shoulder mini dresses and puffball skirts with bouffant hair and spindle heeled patent sandals in the ballroom of the Waldorf Hotel in Aldwych. Lolita came to mind.

Those in attendance included his wife Ann and family – daughter opera singer Jessica in standout floor length green linen has just announced her engagement while one of his sons, a graphic designer responsible for the backdrop for the show, now works closely with his father on prints.

Models present creations by Paul Costelloe during London Fashion Week. Photograph: Neill Hall/EPA
Models present creations by Paul Costelloe during London Fashion Week. Photograph: Neill Hall/EPA

The prints - swirling and bold abstract mixes of black, yellow and white (a good combination for spring), summery florals along with dark gold and black prints were pleasing to the eye and the fabrics luxurious –  bright tangerine orange and pink linens. But the shapes mostly belonged to the 60s and another era reinforced by the background music Sugar Sugar an Archies hit from that period. Elaborate balloon sleeves and cuffs, “schoolboy” micro shorts suits and playsuits described as “ultimate pool party attire” bore little relation to contemporary life.

Models on the catwalk at the Richard Malone Spring/Summer 2020 London Fashion Week. Photograph: Isabel Infantes/PA Wire
Models on the catwalk at the Richard Malone Spring/Summer 2020 London Fashion Week. Photograph: Isabel Infantes/PA Wire

Like Costelloe, Richard Malone only makes to measure, but the two designers are worlds apart. Malone is a trailblazer when it comes to issues of sustainability and recycling and announced that he will dispense with the idea of seasonality, collections being named simply after the date on which they are presented.

Elegant evening wear, vibrant colours and extended shapes marked this collection with bird prints, a homage to his late grandmother taken from scraps of paper on which the two used to draw. Hyper-constructed tailoring used recycled wadding with offcuts in abstract shapes given new life. Each piece was tailored and cut by Malone who also made the silver jewellery because “there was a shitload of things I wanted to make” he said afterwards. His work will be seen in the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)’s forthcoming exhibition called Desire opening later this week.

Models present creations from fashion designer JW Anderson during a catwalk show for the Spring/Summer 2020 collection. Photograph: Niklas Halle’n/AFP/Getty
Models present creations from fashion designer JW Anderson during a catwalk show for the Spring/Summer 2020 collection. Photograph: Niklas Halle’n/AFP/Getty

If Malone makes everything by hand, JW Anderson, who creates 14 collections a year, champions craftsmanship and now sits on the board of the V&A. A designer who fine-tunes the contemporary mood, his show in Yeomanry House (headquarters of the British Territorial Army) attracted front row guests Christina Aguilera, Billy Porter and Anna Wintour.

Anna Wintour (C) watches the JW Anderson catwalk show for the Spring/Summer 2020 collection on the fourth day of London Fashion Week. Photograph: Niklas Halle’n/EPA/Getty Images
Anna Wintour (C) watches the JW Anderson catwalk show for the Spring/Summer 2020 collection on the fourth day of London Fashion Week. Photograph: Niklas Halle’n/EPA/Getty Images

Suiting was relaxed, trousers caught or puddled at the ankle and topped with Indian style tunics and long fluttering veils. Recurring motifs were the circular silver ropes outlining bodices or slung across black dresses. Accessories were emphasised throughout and suit jackets often stiffened for effect. Standout pieces included a white print dress outlined in black, a two tone trenchcoat and a swirling dove grey knit dress not to speak of silver Game of Thrones style capes.

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