Open-toe leggings and tulle: 10 things we learned at London Fashion Week

Here are the style lessons for the autumn-winter season

 

“London is fearless, multicultural and diverse” was the proud boast of Caroline Rush, chief executive of the British Fashion Council at London Fashion Week. The city is of course known for its creativity and energy but also for an industry that contributes more than £32 billion (€37bn) to the country’s GDP and employs 890,000 people. 

But leaving all that aside what are the style lessons for the winter season from the week?

Longer lengths, looser shapes from British designer Alexa Chung. Photograph: Niklas Halle’n/AFP
Longer lengths, looser shapes from British designer Alexa Chung. Photograph: Niklas Halle’n/AFP

1. Longer lengths and looser shapes evident in New York Fashion Week also came through in London at many shows. Alexa Chung and Victoria Beckham, two high-profile trendsetting women who know how to dress and present themselves in the merciless public eye showed the way with failsafe collections. Chung and Beckham’s easygoing coats and laid-back separates were good examples. More exaggerated new proportions drove J W Anderson’s show down to the loosest floor-sweeping trousers in London. Readers prepare for wide leg trousers – they’re back.

Exaggerated new proportions from J W Anderson. Photograph: Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Exaggerated new proportions from J W Anderson. Photograph: Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

2. Tulle is having a moment – at its most dramatic at Molly Goddard but kicking out coquettishly under a kilt or pleated skirt in Preen. Simone Rocha’s overlays of tulle and net subtly conveyed ideas of privacy and intimacy while looking utterly feminine and romantic. Tulle can be tutu much for some, but it is also one of the most alluring fabrics to wear in long skirts particularly if grounded with bovver boots or leather jackets. Katie Ann McGuigan’s floaty tulle dresses were kept in check when layered with panels of jewelled print.

3. Open-toe leggings that match the colour of a skirt or dress will be one of the season’s key accessories – see Beckham’s hot red dress and leggings. The winter pedicure will become an imperative. Think royal blue tights instead of opaques for a new look.

A hint of tulle from Preen. Photograph: Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
A hint of tulle from Preen. Photograph: Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Colour and texture from Matty Bovan. Photograph: Dominika Zarzycka/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Colour and texture from Matty Bovan. Photograph: Dominika Zarzycka/NurPhoto via Getty Images

4. Technology is casting an envious predatory eye on fashion – the British Fashion Council announced another partnership with tech giant JD.com a major Chinese retailer which attracts 300 million customers a year. Everyone is trying to get on the Chinese bandwagon and the designer Bora Aksu already has more than 100 stores there.

Long and loose shapes from Victoria Beckham. Photograph: Gareth Cattermole/BFC/Getty Images
Long and loose shapes from Victoria Beckham. Photograph: Gareth Cattermole/BFC/Getty Images

5. We spent a few hours with Imelda May and her stylist Dee Moran at fashion week seeing what she would choose to wear on a new tour with a new album and a book of poetry looming. What struck her most? A stylish Turkish brand called Pelin Isildak – “where glamour meets grunge” – in the BFC Showroom. Long black coats, embellished velvets caught her eyeand she wanted to buy there and then.

A model walks the runway at the Victoria Beckham. Photograph: Getty Images
A model walks the runway at the Victoria Beckham. Photograph: Getty Images

6. There is always a bit of madness at London Fashion Week and the new bad boy on the block is Matty Bovan, a radical whose fans include Rita Ora and who is known for uncompromised eccentric self-expression and pushing the boundaries of craft. Often compared to Vivienne Westwood, his show was a study in what one commentator called “tattered elegance”. Gucci does this in a very commercially successful way.

Heart-stopping golden dress from Simone Rocha. Photograph: Luke Walker/BFC
Heart-stopping golden dress from Simone Rocha. Photograph: Luke Walker/BFC

7. Suiting is back, but not as you know it. New suits have wide shoulders, God help us, back to the 80s again but the trend was already evident in New York with Kate Spade’s masculine velvet suits and Tory Burch’s navy pinstripes. Alexa Chung scored here again with sharp suits in striped velvet and in denim. Margaret Howell’s brown velvet suits had the necessary slouch from a designer who has always managed androgyny with ease and assurance. Look out for Stacey Wall’s fine check trouser-suits in soft Italian wools and for those who can afford them, no one can beat Erdem’s jewelled trouser suits.

Dress with inside-bustier from Simone Rocha. Photograph: Luke Walker/BFC
Dress with inside-bustier from Simone Rocha. Photograph: Luke Walker/BFC

8. Gold and sequins are everywhere and the one woman with the Midas touch is undeniably Simone Rocha who embellished black transparent fabrics with black sequined flowers and even spangled sequins on bustiers and most dramatically on a heart-stopping golden dress. Her little gold bags, earrings and gold slippers were the stuff of fairytales. Even J W Anderson, not known for glitz, panelled some dresses with gold and black sequins.

A model walks the runway at the Simone Rocha show. Photograph: BFC
A model walks the runway at the Simone Rocha show. Photograph: BFC

9. Sustainability continues to be a fashion buzzword and Richard Malone is the star here. Some of the most spectacular presentations were from the 16 international fashion designers chosen for their talent, vision, wit and confidence. So many were concerned with waste and Rwandan Cedric Mizero’s installation called “Dreaming my Memory” drew attention to marginalised communities in his home country through the most extraordinary sculptures – one was a dress made of empty red and white pill capsules, another mannequin was adorned with traditional Rwandan woven baskets, all repurposed materials that told stories of small village life. “Nobody told us what the pills were for,” he said.

Burberry. Photograph: Mike Marsland/WireImage
Burberry. Photograph: Mike Marsland/WireImage

10. The inside-out bustier (read wearing a bra on the outside) featured in a few collections notably Simone Rocha and Richard Malone. Could this be a winter trend? At Burberry, however, where Riccardo Tisci is revving up the codes of the British heritage brand, Gigi Hadid walked for the show in a black and white bodycon affair with this type of bandeau top. “The young generation should scream more,” Tisci told the Financial Times. Schoolkids were doing just that last week in London, dumping their bags and protesting at Downing Street on climate change. Tisci’s collection was dedicated “to the youth of today” though whether they will want to wear – or indeed can afford – his new season’s offerings is anyone’s guess. Brown Thomas fashion director Shelly Corkery said it felt tougher than usual – she loved the tunic evening dresses and pale blue oversize shearlings along with the “obvious” trenches and pleated skirts. So there.

Harper Beckham, David Beckham and Anna Wintour at the Victoria Beckham show during London Fashion Week, February 2019 at Tate Britain. Photograph: David M. Benett/Getty Images
Harper Beckham, David Beckham and Anna Wintour at the Victoria Beckham show during London Fashion Week, February 2019 at Tate Britain. Photograph: David M. Benett/Getty Images
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