The Wylde Edit: London Fashion Week AW17
Words by Thea Lewis-Yates
Erdem’s unique skill for taking often obscure historical references - this season, an 18th century portrait of a society countess in Turkish costume, to name but one - and spinning them into instantly recognisable, utterly desirable dresses that women want to wear now, defines his unwavering appeal. This season was no exception. Expertly fusing elements of East and West, the collection could be interpreted as a metaphor for Erdem's Turkish heritage and London home. Burnished yellows, Egyptian blues and rich purples appeared decadent and exotic, and juxtaposed beautifully with the crisp ‘Englishness’ of the white poplin Governess dresses that have become synonymous with the brand. Precious brocades, hand-worked embroidery and molten metallic sequins made this one of the most special, and uniquely luxurious shows at LFW.
Christopher Kane’s genius knack for turning the naff into the ’NOW’ struck again for FW17. Taffeta - that clunky, awkward iridescent fabric reminiscent of clunky, awkward black tie dressing in the 80’s - got the full Kane treatment, rendering it suddenly right for now in slick, drop-waist shirt dresses and sharply-tailored coats. Kane’s myriad of often conflicting references prevent his shows feeling thematic or overly laboured. Historical floral damasks sat alongside a space age planetary print; foil-covered cashmere (an oil slick brought to life) was paired with precious lace chiffon. In less skilled hands, these countless ideas could feel dizzying, but with Kane’s light, youthful touch this collection shone as bright as the glittering metallic dresses that closed the show.
Simone Rocha’s signature girlishness - dreamy pastel tones, naively oversized dresses, peter-pan collars - has been refined for FW17, and we fell in love all over again. None of Rocha’s signature femininity had been lost, but it has matured, favouring a slicker silhouette, darker tones and less obvious dreaminess. Military precision tailoring and utilitarian straps gave a ‘don’t mess with me’ attitude, which juxtaposed beautifully with the collections softer looks. Brilliantly diverse casting underscored this idea of celebrating femininity in its myriad forms, not just that of fresh-face ingenues. As Rocha herself said. “I want to be very inclusive – it’s what I do. My collections are for all different types of women, and I really wanted to reflect that." Hear, hear.
Louise Trotter’s show for Joseph initially appeared like a roll call of current trends - masculine minimalism, granny florals, volume and swagger (particular at the shoulder) and high shine vinyls and PVC. Scratch the surface, and you’ll see her show was anything but derivative. Yes, she as talking in todays vernacular but her dialogue was entirely her own. Oversize mannish coats, utilitarian overalls and strict military cuts demonstrated the brands continuing fascination with mens tailoring, and ties in neatly to the current zeitgeist of gender-neutral dressing. Feminine flourishes came via slinky, silky dresses and floral tapestries added a subversive, historical charm. Post-show, Trotter explained her starting point: “the ideology of a very masculine uniform, on the one hand, and idealistic women’s wear on the other, and putting a mirror in between, so they actually reflect each other.”
Henri Moore’s surreal, and not alway flattering interpretation of the female form makes for an unlikely starting point for a RTW collection, but trust Christopher Bailey to reinterpret Moore’s genius through a wearable, intelligent viewpoint. "I liked the way of trying to take clothes and change the shape of the body by moving the seams and the lines and the pieces that wrap around the body in a more unconventional way," he explained. Cue asymmetric cable knits, decontructed to both conceal and reveal : a flash of delicate lace here, a white poplin shirt there. Jackets had curved shoulders and rounded sleeves, creating a whole new form around the body. A more literal take on Moore’s style were the signature crisp striped shirting and faded blue workwear pants, which grounded the more girlish dresses shown in broiderie anglaise and lace ruffles. Bailey eschewed his usual love of colour and print, and the show was all the better for it. The predominantly monochrome palette kept all eyes on his exemplary construction, textures and craftsmanship.