Fashion month may have gone all digital, but the memory of live shows lingers. As the London collections come to an end, our fashion critics have shared their thoughts on a changing landscape.
Vanessa Friedman Well you and I just spent four days at our kitchen tables immersed in ‘Genderless Fashion Week’, also known as London Fashion Week. Personally, I think gender neutral is a misnomer. It offers collections that focus on the extremely contemporary question of gender identity and how this is expressed through clothing – which is, after all, one of the historic battlegrounds of what is. masculine and feminine.
It would have been fascinating, if it were true, but as far as I know, only Harris Reed – him of Harry Styles-in-Vogue-in-a-ball-gown fame – actually answered these questions, splicing the tulle and suiting the genetic level and forcing viewers to confront their own preconceptions and prejudices. All other shows were predominantly male or female (or male and female). Since we are now fully digital and change should be a guiding principle, I was hoping for more.
Guy Trebay It’s easy to think of the binary genre purely in terms of pejorative clichés – it’s compelling, rigid, patriarchal applied, etc. furtive irony (Tom Ford). I know there are no women in this name chain, and maybe that’s one of the reasons fashion can seem stuck.
VF But London is full of interesting women at work! Even though what they give us are gendered clothes, they push those boundaries in a very elastic way.
Molly Goddard, for example, whose explosive ball gown tulles explode the whole idea of femininity in some sort of sparkling power play, turned them into a potent mixed cocktail by layering them over years of James Dean jeans. 1950s and Fair Isle sweater vests from the 1970s, plaids and striped scarves. There’s Victoria Beckham, sliding between domineering suits and flowing silk muslins. Even Emilia Wickstead, one of the royal family’s favorite seamstresses, whose clothes can get sickeningly “appropriate,” this time around got a little subversive by cutting the bellies of garden party dresses. Hello.
GT Somehow, we’ve misplaced – temporarily, I hope – the freedom for designers to explore a creative space between the exaggerated sexuality of, say, Victoria’s Secret and clothes so sterilized that people end up. by designing dresses for Saturnian cults.
VF Speaking of flirty dresses, Bethany Williams, who theoretically makes men’s clothing, has created a capsule collection of woolen coats, all patched together from recycled vintage blankets from UK markets. I think any woman would want to wear them – and could, very easily. There was nothing specifically “masculine” about them: it was really about upcycling and history, two concepts that resonate equally with men and women. (And by the way, outerwear in London has been stellar.)
GT The reality is, we all dressed pretty much the same, even before the lockdown. So, as you suggest, what’s funny is the people who are vamping the genre. Fashion is more than clothes. These ritualized spectacles are not only economically vital, but culturally compelling. Watch how quickly beauty standards suddenly widened once people started to seriously criticize the system. Digital broadcasts are doing well at the moment. But can they compete in the long run with TikTok? In fashion as in politics, the game is the capture of attention.
VF One thing that held me back in my seat was Roksanda’s minifilm, starring three generations of Redgraves: Vanessa, Joely Richardson and Joely’s daughter, Daisy Bevan. Plus their dogs. It was filmed on an iPhone at Ms Richardson’s country house, where the three women were playing cards, running around the garden – you know, locking stuff – while wearing Roksanda’s signature mark of silks saturated with color. and generous pants. If there ever was a compelling argument for dressing ageless, it was this.
GT Yoox Net-a-Porter founder Federico Marchetti recently noted on Instagram that “the beauty of the shows and the clothing is enhanced by the beauty of the places, which often offer a cultural glimpse of craftsmanship and inspiration. behind the product “. Would you accept? Maybe it’s my Jane Jacobs that’s in me, but I love the way fashion shows put old buildings into new uses.
VF In Paris, it often looked like a competition. Who could be the first to show up in X heritage building. Have you seen anything so compelling in London? For me, what stood out to me was the film Ahluwalia, which takes place in the Crossness Pumping Station, the extraordinary Victorian structure in Bexley that helped transform London’s sewage system and was nicknamed “the Cistern Chapel”. It’s a visual metaphor if I’ve seen one before, especially combined with Cktrl on the saxophone and the work of Priya Ahluwalia, which is indeed a melting pot of cultures, sustainability and streetwear elegance. She has just won the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design.
GT With the gradual closings in London, there were obviously fewer location shoots, although Grace Wales Bonner put together a lookbook with a distinctively original and understated collection, photographed on what appeared to be a college quadrangle. The shoot was inspired by black academics who traveled from parts of Africa and the Caribbean to attend Oxford and Cambridge in the 1980s. Ms Wales Bonner explained how “in certain spaces people create a language for themselves”. As a Brit of Jamaican descent, she has done a great job harnessing the resilience of immigrants by maintaining their culture of origin while adapting to an often hostile mainstream culture.
VF Sometimes the look book is more successful than the show / video. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what was going on with the sculptural inlays in the Matty Bovan movie because of all the strobes and bleeding colors. If the goal was disorientation, to mimic the disorientation we all experience – and her clothes flout dress rules in a pretty engaging way – it worked. It wasn’t until later, when I looked at the stills, that their skill was revealed, especially the graffiti condoms and the titanic cable-knit evening dresses and opera gloves. Or were they headlines?
GT Over a WhatsApp chat, Riccardo Tisci explained how he was inspired for his Burberry menswear show by the obvious cornerstones of classic British couture, but also eccentrics like Leigh Bowery and Michael Clark. He showed up in the massive Burberry store on Regent Street and then spoke about his craving for nature, the outdoors, escape (and spending time in quarantine with his 93-year-old mother).
A singularly daring spectacle, it unfurled signatures that Mr. Tisci carried with him from label to label – assertive shapes, powerful graphics, offset by ingot fringes that hinted at ecclesiastical banners – stylized here by Ib Kamara. If the codes were traditionally masculine, the attitude was not. Gender fluidity, as Mr. Tisci said, is more than a “lace dress on a male boy”.
VF Ib Kamara! He’s the man of the season. Dazed’s new editor-in-chief has also styled, via Zoom nothing less, Erdem Moralioglu’s formidable performance, which took place at the Bridge Theater and was inspired by the designer’s experience with the Royal Ballet ago. a few years. (Four of the “models” were actually dancers, including one in her 70s.) This one was not about the fluidity of genres, but rather a kind of temporal porosity between day and night, home and home. event, historicism and modernity. I think in particular of the gray ribbed knit shorts, cardigans and leggings that were interspersed with shimmering floral cocoon coats and white poplin housekeeper shirts speckled with gemstone prima ballerina tutu.
The Erdem collections can fall into the costume trap quite easily, but they didn’t this time around, just as Simone Rocha’s work became more powerful, I thought, thanks to the way she cut romanticism. fantasy of her nightie lace and flowers with acidity splash of leather and curly harness. Both collections made me think that some of the minimalism of forced lockdown may have had an unexpected effect. Have you seen any fashion fallout from what we’ve all been through?
GT It seems to me that the clothes generally felt looser, dirtier, and forgiving, and that the structure we saw often took on block, monastic, or Colorforms. Watching Stephen Jones Millinery’s “French Kiss” video, in which the designer explains his longtime fixation for “Frenchness,” you couldn’t help but think about how dull and puritanical fashion has become. It is as if we had forgotten the tools of seduction. I’m not sure a hat can be lustful, but some of those Jones designed objects – two interlocking tongues, say, a piercing of a pearl – were overtly sexualized objects.
Of course, he drew for women. (Or, at least I think so.) Mr. Jones is a cunning soul, however, and his London Fashion Week appearance seemed like a sharp reminder of Vivienne Westwood’s observation that fashion’s goal is ultimately to undress.