A panoply of design at London Fashion Week
The world of fashion reacts to the best of the SS18 shows, which brought cleaning-inspired chic, streetwear and plenty of pink plastic
Unlike New York's struggle to rustle up enough hot looks to quicken pulses, London's roster was packed to the rafters with inspo-laden, design-led collections from British brands, with an icing of international glamour by visitors Emporio Armani, Tommy Hilfiger and Versus Versace.
Headline London designer Christopher Kane – who switches focus dramatically each season – conjured the image of the perfect, cleaning-obsessed housewife with a core of kink and madness for spring/summer 2018. "He sent out a collection that co-opted the makings of supermarket cleaning paraphernalia – naughty underwear, frilly ornaments and gentlemen's tailoring to his inimitably subtext-laden brand of chic," said Sarah Mower of vogue.com. And despite the show's heavy-going embrace of the theme – with hoovering and flushing on the soundtrack – Mower was convinced it would 'scrub up as a huge variety of Kane-brand trophies' when it hit shops too.
At established-but-still-young brand Mary Katrantzou, veteran fashion scribe Suzy Menkes of vogue.co.uk praised the panoply of pink plastic, friendship bracelet-derived patterns and bubble-wrap fabric – Katrantzou's nostalgic delve into her 1980s childhood: "The mix of childhood and adult references was ingenious and mostly effective," but she noted a sense of "creeping pattern fatigue" by the end of the show. Katrantzou contemporaries, Christopher de Vos and Peter Pilotto, in contrast, took a muted turn compared with previous seasons, Menkes said. Their 1970s Japanese-inspired collection presented as "gentle mixes of turquoise and lilac, or orange and lemon with only some floral prints blended in – all very low-key." For Menkes, the references didn't quite translate.
Rising star Molly Goddard successfully turned the volume down on her penchant for froth and frill that made her name, while maintaining her brand's essential levity with mini dresses, puffed-out silhouettes and the use of sequins. Indeed, for Chioma Nnadi at vogue.com, "Goddard proved that there's more to her work than girlish charm, presenting an impressive collection that went far beyond the parameters of a tutu".
For Matthew Schneier at The New York Times, it was the designers who resisted the (short-lived) sugar rush of social media-appealing looks who won out – Hussein Chalayan, in particular. "His grey suits resist the simple smashing into an Instagram frame: their elegance is in the way they float around the body, the way they may look entirely different from the back than they do from the front," Schneier gushed. Margaret Howell also came in for praise for her useful, desirable collection with exaggerated shirt collars and wide-legged trousers.
Visiting octogenarian Giorgio Armani looked to London's outer reaches in Wapping to give added oomph to his sportier, cheaper line, Emporio Armani, which has just opened a new store on Bond Street. For Mower at vogue.com, "he completely nailed the subject of chinos," and she felt the commercial appeal was strong, commenting that the new store "will be a woman-magnet on Bond Street – and all over the world".
In her overview of Christopher Bailey's helmsmanship of juggernaut-brand Burberry, Jess Cartner-Morley at the Guardian described his earlier "decontamination" of the brand of its "Danniella Westbrook" years, associated with football terraces and baseball caps. This season, however, Bailey backtracked, swayed by the lucrative new "cool" of football casual and working class streetwear-style. The show was held in an 18th-century former courthouse among an exhibition of British social portraiture photography Here We Are, spanning classes and eras beyond Burberry's usual Tatlerite muses, and instead featured Yorkshire workers during Thatcher, the traveller community in the 1970s and scruffy young lovers. The influence of Russian streetwear designer Gosha Rubchinskiy (sitting front row), who recently collaborated with Burberry and shot the collection on moody skater types, was evident in the styling. For Schneier at The New York Times, it worked: "That fresh look made Burberry look fresh. It even looked… cool?"