This year’s London Fashion Week has offered every fashion lover and haute couture enthusiast a fair load of new and exciting womenswear and menswear collections — from up-and-coming designers to the big luxury brands. Whether you were looking for extravagant gowns, bold textile combinations or colourful patterns, the expectations were kept high. The Autumn/Winter 2023 season, which went on from the 16th to the 21st of February, was dedicated to the late British fashion designer, activist and punk icon Dame Vivienne Westwood, celebrating her unconventional and reckless style.
After a thrilling London Fashion Week, Schön! Magazine breaks down the highlights from some of the New-Gen presentations, catwalks and performative shows.
Paolo Carzana – Queer Symphony
With ‘I want to be hope for you’ as a premise to his statement, Paolo Carzana sought to empower those who like him had to go through difficult times in their lives to discover themselves. ‘Queer Symphony’ is more than a figurative performance, a bold statement to support all the queer lives who didn’t have the opportunity to express themselves freely before today.
The Cardiff, Wales-based designer’s AW collection features 15 looks in a majestic combination of decadent fabric and natural colours — mostly pale, earthy tints — that symbolises the heavenly fall from grace of religious values. The garments fold and wrap and mix in a colourful embrace, whether through textures or patterns, accompanied by the weightlessness and purity of their composition — everything was organically crafted and hand-dyed. Through the mostly gender-defying silhouettes, two could easily be associated to angelic forms with a wired organza structure and a ‘halo’ hovering behind the models’ heads. However, part of Carzana’s Welsh heritage was also embedded in the many bandanas, suits and coats, with a clear reference to traditional woollen tapestry.
Buerlangma – Do It Like A Villain
The world could always use some… villains? Buerlangma took an unexpected turn when they decided to dedicate their latest AW collection to the captivating but dangerous bad guys from every film, TV series and myths. Even more unexpected was the opening piece, which saw Thai actress and singer Wonderframe in a dramatic long red PU leather dress coming out of the audience screaming to start the catwalk show. Debuting for the first time at London Fashion Week, the Chinese brand — founded by Qiqi Yuan — is fully committed to representing the rising youth culture in China with its out-of-the-ordinary garments. Emerging from the dense white smoke on the runway, a parade of graphic and outlandish dresses, masks and impactful accessories fully enclosed the message of the collection: to push the boundaries of traditional fashion.
Buerlangma successfully showcases their mastery of satin, silk, taffeta and PU leather, with structured pieces embellished with ruffles, fabric spikes and embroidered designs. One of the focal points was the inclusion of extravagant masks which were each associated to the roles and personalities of the modern youth. Featured on some looks, there were also resin-printed 3D wearable devices — large golden wings which further emphasised the purpose of the collection to embrace innovation.
Sól Hansdóttir – Series of Studies On The Nature Of Being: The Egg
In a clever figurative metaphor, Sól Hansdóttir manages to transform the ‘fabric shells’ of the egg in a creative collection that unifies the folkloristic accents of her garments to a modern and bold construction. The Icelandic designer is not new to complex collections as this is her distinctive trait which also secured her a L’Oréal creative award in 2021. Her presentation, held in St. Giles church with melodic birdsongs resonating within, had as a centrepiece an oval sculpture made solely of recycled materials from which her looks were constructed and sewn together. Lit floor
lamps serve as incubators for the looks displayed on white canvases. Draped fabrics — which mostly include wool, organzas and taffetas — are cut from the installation, layered and hand stitched with untraditional materials like sofa covers or mattress foam. Hansdóttir challenges the fashion norms with a variety of colours and tones — which she says were not of her liking at first — like lilac, bright red and cream, accompanied by egg-shaped ear cuffs and shoes 3D printed from biodegradable plastic. This bond between primordial style and her signature spiral cut brings a sense of futuristic expression to her looks.
Almost as if out of a Degas painting,Tata Naka’s AW collection is inspired by the world of ballet and everything that goes on behind the scenes. The presentation was displayed in a wonderful Victorian building in what appeared to be a rehearsal studio: dancers from the Masters of Ballet Academy swirled and danced around wearing a mixture of classical studio dance wear — from floaty chiffon skirts to leg warmers and leotards — and comfortable every day looks, which included mostly knitwear, tweed blazers and oversized coats. Soft pastel tints like lavender, pink, jade and turquoise were the main palette for the entire collection often matched with vintage-style florals.
At the same time, sportier knitwear featured brighter colours and showcased Tata Naka’s interpretation of famous ballet posters, such as Giselle, Romeo and Juliet and The Swan. The twin designers and founders of the brand may have already been on the stage for a while, but it’s their latest collections that better represent the modern era of fashion.
Lula Laora – Arcade
In a world where everything is slowly becoming more and more digital every day, Lula Laora’s Arcade collection makes you wonder what your virtual avatar could wear without worrying about norms or prejudices. Inspired by video games, the digital presentation showcased three different virtual worlds, each having a set of three unique characters.
The first — based on the elves of the Lothlórien from Lord Of The Rings and Princess Padme from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace — features predominantly red and black tones over a stylised bodysuit, a cutout gown and a modernised version of a traditional Japanese kimono. The second world reflects the fusion between flesh and digital, referencing The Matrix and the Swiss artist H.R. Giger. Magenta bodysuits are the protagonists paired with chain ball adorned long braids, recon vest and a large double-edged scythe.
However, the main piece remains the high, oversized magenta gown that engulfs the model like a fruit jelly. The third and final world takes its inspiration from popular fighting games like Mortal Kombat and Dead or Alive 3, as well as a clear reference to the designer’s favourite anime, Sailor Moon. The garments, all in dull, faint grey and white tones, assume a more serious nature even if their structure is far from the notions of order. From the extra long sleeves over a pleated maid-like dress to the dragon-like spiked puffer coat and matching boots, and the detached bias-cut white gown. The collection fully represents what the London-based brand is all about: exploring all of your darkest fantasies and desires.
For more information on London Fashion Week and to view other collections, visit their website.
words. Gennaro Costanzo