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FashionMusicArtCulture

Standouts from London Fashion Week

19 September 2023
From Paolo Carzana to Simone Rocha and Burberry, here are our highlights from London Fashion Week.

Paolo Carzana

There is something soothing about Paolo Carzana’s work. Complete with draped organza, ruffled silhouettes, sculptural hats and sheer bodices, it plays with the contrasts between soft and hard, rigid and formless, revealed and concealed. Carzana’s Spring/Summer 2024 collection continued this exploration, featuring sixteen looks that delve into the duality of strength and sensitivity. Constructed with deadstock or recycled fabric and coloured with plant dyes and spices, each piece reflects the breadth of knowledge acquired by the Welsh designer at Central Saint Martins (MA) and his experience as a British Fashion Council New Gen.

What is striking about the collection is how it reveals Carzana’s self-referential design approach. It showcases his ability to revisit past collections, reflect upon them and incorporate intriguing alterations. In this collection, one can envision him drawing inspiration from Fall 2023, where he experimented with a muted palette of pink, yellow, beige, green, brown and blue. It’s also possible to see traces of Spring 2023, where he presented layered tailoring that elegantly wrapped around and across the models’ bodies. Across all these collections, one can discern a real delicacy, akin to a butterfly’s wing, never to be bent and always to be handled with tenderness and care.

Simone Rocha

A similar allegory can be used to describe Simone Rocha’s collections, which are so frilly and feminine in their formal construction and symbolism. For Spring/Summer 2024, she refined the excessive layering and colour clashing of previous seasons, opting for more structural boat-neck bodices and coordinating shorts, as well as voluminous V-neck dresses in mint and white, appliquéd with flowers and bows. Each look was accessorised with her signature pearls and beads, reinforcing her meticulous attention to detail.

When references or inspiration are not explicitly stated, we must fall back on our instincts and the garments themselves to discern our own narrative. As we decode the brilliance of her creations, it becomes evident that the collection is, in essence, a simulation of a wedding, featuring unwrappable gifts, floral bouquets, netted veils and flowing white organza and silk. The show’s title, The Dress Rehearsal, supports this assumption. Across the fifty looks, models were adorned in precious garments, poised to bask in a celebration of love. The looks exuded elegance and romance while also embracing a touch of gothic grandeur. It’s quite humbling to see how Rocha has steadfastly adhered to her design codes—the textures and hues that render her artistry appreciable and her British heritage perceptible.

Burberry

If Simone Rocha embodies one end of the British spectrum—cheeky countryside lovers—then Daniel Lee’s Burberry represents the other—a refined city dweller, composed in demeanour yet driven in ambition. It is safe to assert that Lee has undertaken a complete reimagining of this nearly fifty-five-year-old brand. Naturally, traces of its history remain—the crisp trench coats, impeccably tailored dress pants and iconic check fabrics. These elements have all, however, been subverted and reoriented. Where do we find ourselves facing? None other than the great outdoors: England's crisp forests, Scotland's whistling seas, Brighton’s pebbled beaches, and Wales’ undulating cliffs. And what attire befits these terrains? Prorsum Knight embellished loafers and strappy sandals, maroon leather bags, white linen pants and ruffled dresses in shades of purple, green and black. Amongst these are dresses with vibrant flowers: blooming daisies and daffodils, painted in lush hues of orange, white and blue. The models’ makeup contrasts with these whimsical floral looks. While their eyes and cheeks adopted a more understated aesthetic, nearly half of the models’ lips were stained with rich black ink. So cold and cool they looked—so ready for the great outdoors!

Mowalola

The trend of dark lips also found its way to Mowalola's runway, where models, styled by Isamaya Ffrench and Rose Letho, strutted down the LED-lit catwalk with an edgy, battered and daring appearance. In the diverse spectrum of London's fashion scene, one could argue that Mowalola Ogulesi, the British-Nigerian designer renowned for her penchant for slits, sportswear, and inventive use of leather, would claim the central flag.

For the Summer 2024 collection, Mowalola showcased a mix of traditional mini dresses and tailored pants alongside more avant-garde creations, such as conjoined jumpers, open-toe boots and thigh-cut cargo pants. While the show traversed various historical periods and cultural epochs, each ensemble maintained a consistent style that could be described as a fusion of biker, baseball and gas station chic.

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