London Fashion Week Spring/Summer 16
September is a pretty universal time for change; it marks the move from summer to autumn, it sees young people going back to school or uni, and most importantly of all (for those of us in the fashion industry, anyway), it’s also the time that the top designers showcase their Spring/Summer collections! This season, London Fashion Week ran from the 18th – 22nd September, and to say I attended a lot of shows, presentations and parties across these five jam-packed days would be an understatement! With that in mind, I’ve recapped my top London Fashion Week Womenswear SS16 highlights in the following blog, grouping them into the upcoming LFW SS16 top trends. Enjoy!
Ruffles, Romance and Flowers
You may not think that romantic influences and floral motifs are the most original trends for spring, but trust me when I say that the 2016 update on these themes is anything but standard! Girlish elegance was taken to new heights this season at LFW SS16, with sheer panels galore, an abundance of giant, frilly ruffles, and delicate floral patterns making appearances on many of the catwalks. Designers leading the pack in this feminine romanticism included Erdem (whose prairie and Victorian inspired creations of lace, ruffles and ribbons were no less beautiful for being designed to appear “unravelled”), Bora Aksu (whose ethereal, lace-dominated collection was as colourful and beautiful as it was flirty and playful), Yufash (where Kadri Klampe showcased a captivating collection of romantic floaty dresses and skirts, with sheer panel detail, feminine hues and signature embellishment). Kristian Aadnevik (whose delicate lace collection was inspired by the wild beauty of roses and Roman goddesses), Asli Polat (whose collection of loose flowing shapes, floral embroidery, transparent fabrics, lace ruffles and pastels was a sophisticated interpretation of Midwestern US summer chic), Simone Rocha (who played with texture in a collection that featured feathery tulle, elegant lace, floral prints and an overriding motif of ropes), and Three Floor (whose flirty collection of tulle, sheers, flowery lace and mini frills were beautifully balanced by elegant cut-outs and sportswear materials).
That’s not to say that all such offerings were dainty and delicate; plenty of designers added edge and points of difference to their romantic collections with surprising silhouettes, use of unexpectedly bright colours, and juxtaposing dark accents. My personal favourites include Marques Almeida’s denim ruffle looks with frayed edges; Mary Katrantzou’s contrast of dark, brooding floral patterns and frills with bright pops of colour; Holly Fulton’s surrealist-inspired collection of bold colours, crazy prints and unique yet feminine shapes; David Koma’s flirty collection of black, white and blush with embroidered flowers and transparent textures; Judy Wu’s soft and fluid yet powerful study of female strength; Christopher Bailey’s trans-seasonal dark and nude lace collection with military touches at Burberry; Gyo Yuni Kimchoe’s juxtaposition of frothy frills with vividly-coloured oriental-print silks; Joseph’s masculine take on romance; Toga’s sheer overlays and large ruffle appliques contrasted with bright satins and earthy tones; Peter Pilotto’s combination of blue pastels and ruffles with geometric shapes and black accents; JW Anderson’s mix of frills/femininity and an “intergalactic Olympics” aesthetic; and Preen by Thornton Bregazzi’s refined combination of ditsy florals, ruffled chiffon, stripes, black panels, asymmetry and cheeky cut-outs.
I also particularly enjoyed Hasan Hejazi’s more literal take on the romance theme, which saw sweetheart necklines, sheer tops, and heart motifs on skirts and dresses. Mary Benson showed a similarly literal representation of love with her SS16 collection – though her theme was in fact centred on love and heartbreak (as can be seen from the fact that the models’ faces were painted with tears). Highlights included the full length ruffle gown covered with scribbles, the 3D heart-strewn deep red jacket, the crying face dress, and the sunglasses with attached jewel tear-drops. Ryan Lo seemed to employ similar themes in a less literal sense, with a primarily pink-hued collection that featured ruffles and frill adornments of all sizes and even a heart-printed dress.
Statement Stripes and Graphic Prints
In complete contrast to the soft, romantic trend, many designers at LFW SS16 chose to showcase statement stripes or strong, graphic prints in their collections, paving the way for a bright and boldly patterned summer. LFW pioneers of the stripe trend included House of Holland, J.JS Lee, Vlada Savic, Gareth Pugh, BCollide, Faustine Steinmetz, Jasper Conran, Richard Malone (Fashion East), and C.J. Yao, all of whom created beautifully diverse collections with stripes as their main focus. In terms of graphic prints, on the other hand, no one paved the way for the trend quite like Jonathan Saunders, who used a whole rainbow of colours in the collection that incorporated checks, punchy paisley prints, abstract florals and diagonal lines. Indeed, quirky graphic prints seemed to be popular for spring and summer, with several designers choosing to incorporate slightly more off-the-wall aspects into their collections. For example, Alexander Lewis brought science and maths into his latest collection with motifs of rainbows of light exiting a prism, stars, clouds and cuboid shapes, all of which that contrasted nicely with his use of stripes and more traditional, almost geographic wiggly lines. Yii also went with a youthfully-influenced theme in his largely pastel-coloured collection, which featured a mixture of cartoon prints (of human body parts, fish, other sea creatures, and ghosts), 3D knitted accoutrements (dead fish, baubles), impressionist shapes, and a print that looked suspiciously like geometric fried eggs! Ivana Pilja took the shape theme one step further, by sending models down the catwalk in avant-garde “monochromatic body origami” that had to be seen to be believed!
Thomas Tait went with a more grown-up version of quirky with his galactic-inspired collection, which featured DIY-like metal trappings, multi-coloured Swarovski crystal embellishment, and round metallic cut-outs. Miuniku also played with shapes in an impactful yet clean primary-coloured collection filled with circles, asymmetric panels, and juxtaposition, as did Leaf Xia (one of Fashion Scout’s Ones to Watch) in her collection of bold, primary coloured collage pieces, and Peter Jensen, in his collection of brightly coloured mod looks inspired by his friend and muse Shirley Kurata. Omer Asim took juxtaposition one step further with his beautiful SS16 collection, which offered a modern study on black and white, with clean lines and materials such as metal and wood creating “colour through texture”. Similarly, Budislava Kekovic showed a mainly black and white collection (with touches of grey) of geometric architecture and simple lines, which was predominantly inspired by Japanese culture. Issa’s offering, notably consisting also of mainly black and white, with only a few pieces featuring bright blue or yellow. The overriding theme throughout the collection was of graphic yet delicate prints featuring bold shapes and lush texture.
Edeline Lee, Min Wu, and Hunter Original all proved that graphic patterns look just as good in pastels, though. Lee’s use of softer colours contrasted nicely with her use of colour blocking and strong geometric shapes/lines, resulting in a feminine yet powerful collection of strikingly artistic looks. Wu’s was similarly creative, with loose but structured outfits in pale hues that featured airbrushed paint patterns, strong geometric lines, and sporty straps, to name a few highlights. Hunter Original created a festival-ready, pastel-toned collection of waterproof outfits which mixed patterns of geometric block shapes, ombre tones, and graphic, jungle camouflage prints.
Impressively, several designers actually managed to combine the stripes and/or graphic print trends with other themes. For example, Roksanda managed to merge bold stripes and romanticism with her SS16 collection inspired by modern ballet, expertly offsetting floaty layers, ruffles, bell-shaped sleeves and dusky pinks with boldly coloured stripes, sharp tailoring and masculine details. JS Chin (another of Fashion Scout’s Ones To Watch) achieved a similar effect with his romantic “modernised oriental” collection featuring silk, stripes and floral prints. Anya Hindmarch also achieved a combination of trends, bridging the gap between stripes and graphic prints with her visually dynamic “kaleidoscope” collection of bold, geometric designs, which also featured the logos of familiar UK high street brands. Sabinna took a similar direction (minus the logos) with her collection packed with a combination of crisp white and blue stripes, and vibrant red polka-dot prints and geometric shapes. Jamie Wei Huang employed strong shapes in her SS16 collection too, which featured triangles, round edged rectangles and geometric prints, as well as a quirky devil’s face motif.
Vivid Colours and Excess
Spring/Summer 2016 definitely doesn’t seem to be the season for wallflowers, as evidenced by the trend for bright, punchy colours and more-is-more outfits. Christopher Kane provided a prime example of this with his car-crash themed collection, which saw models walking the runway in multi-coloured “acid” creations that featured jagged cut-outs, paint sprays, geometric patchworks, plastic wires, fringing, and chaotic stitch work, to name but a few features! Pam Hogg also proved why she is known as the queen of excess with her selection of amazingly vibrant outfits that incorporated everything from geometric colour blocking, to metallic details and studs, to feathery tassels. The collection for Vivienne Westwood Red Label also lived up to expectation, with each model wearing a crazy mixture of colours, patterns and layers, all topped off with an oversized paper crown. Rather than just a standard catwalk though, Westwood also staged a fash-mob, with models walking the streets with placards that spread her Climate Revolution campaign. Despite this, it was arguably Ashish that caused the biggest fashion splash this season, with an astoundingly excessive collection of puffed tulle, glitter/sequin encrusted everything, rainbow beads, gigantic ruffles, and oversized denim, which was showcased by skateboarding female models and beheeled male models who held hands down the runway and sent Twitter into a frenzy thanks to their twerking and fabulous mini-dress wearing!
Phiney Pet’s collection was equally impactful, but in a far sweeter (and less in your face!) way; featuring a mixture of bright and pastel colours, standout looks included the mint tulle dress adorned with bows, the hand-painted cartoon leather jackets, and the dresses printed with Jammy Dodgers, Cherry Bakewells, and an assortment of other cakes/biscuits. Similarly sweet was Camilla Elphick’s SS16 collection, which featured fantastic candy coloured pumps with cartoon faces on the back and PEZ dispensers for heels. Fyodor Golan’s offering was just as kitsch, thanks to a collaboration with Transformers, which was made clear through their use of shiny metallics, bold colours and geometric prints (including an amazing robotic houndstooth), and actual artwork from Transformers on certain pieces – as well as replication of the logo as a giant green necklace. While Angel Chen also employed the tactic of clashing fabrics/prints and adding unique details, her point of difference was colour-blocking, with most outfits featuring only one or two main colours from her overall colour palette of pink, yellow, orange, blue, red, white and black.
Many designers took the opportunity to show that, for them, anything goes for SS16. For instance, Ashley Williams’ looks were evocative of a little girl’s nightmare, with bug prints, ribbons, teddy bears, sleeping caps and fishnets; The Swedish School of Textiles’ emerging designers showcased everything from colour-blocking, sequins and emoji faces to billowing shapes, oversized camo and parachutes; Tata Naka’s South America inspired presentation was filled with earthy metallic colours, sun motifs and military medals; George Styler’s intricate knitwear featured heavy embellishment and portrayed images of wolves howling, roses, kittens and the Mona Lisa, all in shades of burnt orange, coral, red, neon pink and blue; Little Shilpa’s playful “Alice In Wonderland” themed collection featured a dizzying combination of giant themed headpieces, psychedelic patterns, denim and tartan knife pleats; Vin + Omi’s self-described “future eco-punk” style collection blurred the lines between art and fashion with the inclusion of sustainable wood veneer appliques, latex, Japanese flag motifs and sculpted wooden headdresses; Typical Freaks’ eccentric hand-painted pieces juxtaposed feather pastel prints with bold black shapes and sheer cut-outs; On/Off’s catwalk featured Perspex and twisted 3D padding adornments, romantic birds and delicate handwriting, and ombre colours and pleating; Ana Ljubinkovic’s multi-coloured naturalistic tapestry dresses and bodysuits featured embroidered swans, flowers, windmills, deer, and kittens; This Is The Uniform (Fashion East) combined themes of teenage fashion, the Wild West, and full-body fisnets; and Dilara Findikoglu’s rock chic looks incorporated a host of features, from shiny, blood red materials, corsets and graphic-printed t-shirts to embellishments of sewn-on patches, laces, and 3D beaded flowers/lobsters/hearts/shoes/eyes.
Last season was all about taking influences from previous decades and turning them into something fresh and new. While not quite as many designers continued with this theme for LFW SS16, there were still several who produced stand-out collections by taking previous eras as their inspiration. The Topshop Unique show managed to effortlessly combine aspects of different decades, simultaneously offering 1930s garden-party chic, 80s power dressing tailoring, and 90s touches such as coloured leather and fluffy shoes. Vielma also seemed to take some inspiration from the 90s (satin slip dress and shiny tracksuit), though the overriding theme was American motel chic, which had a decidedly seventies vibe. Emilia Wickstead was another trendsetter in what I like to call the “mishmash of decades” style, with her presentation of a feminine yet bold meeting of 50s floral prints tea party silhouettes, 70s boots and beaded embroidery, 30s volume, and 60s geometric prints and sexy cutouts.
However, several designers chose to take inspiration from a singular decade. DAKS was clearly influenced in both print and silhouette by the elegant Art Deco period of the 1920s, as was Rohmir, whose catwalk was full of structured, straight dresses, Gatsby-esque embellishment, and a hint of oriental edge. Meanwhile, the likes of Emilio de la Morena, Steven Tai, and Keiko Nishiyama all turned to aspects of 1950s style for their inspiration; de la Morena with romantic silk, lace and floral renditions of classic Grace Kelly shapes; Tai with a saccharine, candy-coloured take on 50s school-girl sock-hop style (with a liberal dash of geekiness thrown in); and Nishiyama with 50s tea room florals and voluminous skirts. Continuing our sartorial tour through the decades, Orla Kiely chose to revamp the 60s and 70s in her collection of fun, psychedelic prints, billowing volume and prim pinafore shapes. Vinti Andrews played off of the 70s’ strong prints too, though hers were implemented amongst a more bohemian-vibed collection of slouchy shapes and floral embroidery. In a total juxtaposition, several designers chose to focus on the harder, more defined 80s and 90s aesthetics, with Joanne Stoker offering a modern, graphic take on 80s power heels, Paul Smith showing a simple, bright variation of 80s shapes, KTZ showing a dark “80s modern” aesthetic, and Le Kilt combining structured 80s blazers with a modernised 90s grunge vibe.
With grey weather on the horizon for at least the next 6 months, several designers chose to give us something to really look forward to with holiday-inspired, beach-ready SS16 collections. Ong-Oaj Pairam was one of those designers, showcasing an amazing collection intended for a trip to the jungle. In tropical hues of white, yellow, green, pink and turquoise, floaty tops/dresses and wide-legged trousers conveyed a laid-back holiday vibe, while butterfly prints and appliqués brought certain pieces to life. Ashley Isham had everyone dreaming of a tropical holiday as well, with a collection packed full of florals, bold printed swimwear, and slinky dresses, all accessorised with jaunty Hawaiian lei. Felder Felder also took us to sunnier climes with their ode to Miami summer, which included multi-coloured foil, extreme miniskirts, thigh-high splits, and bright pink flamingo prints. Conversely, Danielle Romeril’s presentation had a more relaxed Californian vibe, with repeating palm-tree print, loose, floaty silhouettes, and a relaxed colour palette of white, grey, black, dusty pink and various shades of green.
Meanwhile, the models at Sophia Webster’s Mermaid Laundrette show seemed ready for the beach in their fantastic pastel-hued retro swimming costumes with matching swim caps. As ever, the clothes served primarily to complement the real stars of the show though: the bags and shoes! These featured Webster’s signature cheeky slogans (“Beach Babe”, “Naughty Cool”, “Don’t be Jelly”), pastel glitter, cartoon waves, 3D coral, tribal prints/shapes, and big pearls, to name but a few stand-outs. And speaking of stand-outs, who wouldn’t want a pair of those thigh-high netting shoes?! The Temperley London girls were ready for a beach retreat too, in bold, tropical prints, floaty maxi dresses/skirts and embroidered sundresses, all of which were accessorised with lace up string sandals and Panama hats in what was a perfect tribute to the Mediterranean lifestyle. Belstaff’s collection took inspiration from the sea as well, though the knits, jackets, trenches and outerwear in shades of blue, grey and neutrals were perhaps more suited to a potentially rainy “staycation” than exotic trip abroad!
Often considered solely a winter trend, tailoring has broken out of its box for SS16 to become a key focus in many collections! Several designers used their catwalks and presentations to clearly show that strong tailoring can also be innately feminine. We saw prime examples of this from Zeynep Kartal (whose playful outfits ranged from structured, short playsuits and mini dresses to full length, flowing lace gowns, all in a unifying a colour palette of white, navy, coral red and navy), Amanda Wakeley (whose slinky yet tailored pieces were effortless in their simple colour palette and relaxed femininity), Eudon Choi (whose dreamy collection in pale hues of pink, blue, grey, beige and white – offset with navy satin – blurred the line between masculine and feminine tailoring), Youjia Jin (whose collection of prim, buttoned-up tailoring was given a delicate edge with floral prints and soft ruffles/pleats), and Ccuoco (whose collection of sexy tailored pieces included plenty of flowing sheer materials, fitted leather, and structured silk in luxurious shades of deep red, creamy white, dark blue, black and nude).
Others chose to make structure their main focal point. Both Jean-Pierre Braganza and Barbara Casasola presented their reinvented take on the traditionally masculine tailored suit jacket in their collections, though Braganza’s catwalk also featured leather detailing and striking paint effects/graphic prints in blue, yellow and red that juxtaposed nicely with its base of black and white, while Casasola’s featured thin knits, strategic slivers of bare skin, and earthy tones of green, red, brown and grey. Daniela Barros stood out from the crowd by presenting an amazing collection of structured/folded shapes, frayed denim, shaggy fringe, and linen suits, all in muted, minimalistic colours. Paul Costelloe veered in the other direction with his vividly bright collection of colour-blocked outfits in bright orange, grass green, mint, aqua, lavender, sugary pink, blue and purple. Structure was the real star of the show, though, with ruffled hems, stand-up collars, varying necklines and voluminous sleeves adding points of difference to each outfit. Conversely, 1205 went back to basics, with a modest, draped collection in simple hues, which seemed to focus on texture and the crossover of outfit elements.
Though they don’t necessarily fit into any of the above trends, other beautiful collections from London Fashion Week SS16 that I must mention include Apu Jan, Shao Yen, Phoebe English, Caitlin Price, Markus Lupfer, Charli Cohen, Julien Macdonald, Lulu Liu, TNBP, Versus Versace, Claire Barrow, Maya, PPQ, Marko Mitanovski, L’Amitie, Christopher Raeburn, Ethologie by Jasper Garvida, Osman, Giles, Manuel Facchini, Anita Hirlekar, Wilson PK, James Kelly, Pringle of Scotland, Rejina Pyo, Georgia Hardinge, Antonio Berardi, FAD, and Niro Wang.
That just about concludes my roundup of the top trends and highlights from LFW SS16. I hope you enjoyed hearing about the best of London Fashion Week Women’s SS16 as much as I enjoyed attending them… and I’ll see you all next season for AW16/17!