the nonpareil of london fashion week | aw24 roundup

photography. Dave Benett/Getty Images for Annie’s Ibiza

In the wake of five days chock full of runway shows, presentations, and parties, London Fashion Week’s (LFW) 40th birthday has come to an end in a symphony of clothes and chaos. Designers pulled out all the stops for their autumn/winter 2024 collections, with Marques’Almeida showing for the first time in four years, Sinead Gorey repurposing iPods as jewellery, and Annie’s Ibiza designing a dress made of flowers. If you’re still trying to catch up on all of the excitement, here’s a roundup of the nonpareil this season. 

The 1920s Tudor-style Ironmongers’ Hall, situated in the Barbican, only adds to the eclectic, worldly feel of Edward Crutchley’s latest collection. Various historical reference points – from a portrait of the Greek god Dionysus plucked from a fragment of a 3rd or 4th Century Egyptian textile to the shape of Byzantine tunics to 19th-century crochet lace scarves – were woven throughout contemporary latex and crochet elements. Super-wide shoulder pads reminded me only of Minecraft avatars with their boxy nature, jutting out so far from the models’ bodies that the audience had to lean back when they trudged down the runway. Equally amusing sky-high cowboy hats sat atop models’ heads. Evidently, what goes around comes around.

An enchanted garden took hold of St Mary Magdalene’s Church in Paddington for Annie’s Ibiza’s third collection, with bunches of wildflowers that appeared to be growing down the sides of the aisle and at the base of the pillars. Dripping in sequins, beads, and sparkles, models floated ethereally down the aisles, resembling nymphs or fairies. 17th-century references were manifested in hand-embroidered brocade, corsetry, and lace ruffles, whilst creative director Annie Doble embraced nature through a white sheer floor-length gown and matching veil with crystal-encrusted spider web detailing – mimicking a web covered in morning dew. Collaborating with McQueen’s Flowers, Doble designed a dress made entirely of gypsophila, mimosa, asparagus fern, and fountain grass, painting the look as the ultimate escapist dream.

Held on three double-decker buses sat in a loading zone in Russell Square, SRVC‘s latest runway show, titled Human Resource, encapsulated the London commute through reworked tailoring, inverted jackets, cinched waists, adjustable buckles, and snakeskin oversized bags. Stretchy black headbands were worn by each of the 33 models, pushed back scruffy, unkempt hair tied into ponytails and slipped through spliced collars at the nape of the neck. Bold red lips and lilac eyeshadow applied generously to the eyelids referenced 80s makeup looks while shiny silver oversized hoop earrings, thick wavy bangles, and chunky rings worked in tandem with macro shoulder bags, leather pointed-toe stilettos, and strappy sandals. Harriott’s insistence on designing for the female form results in this ability to create womenswear that acts as armour, empowering women.

The ancient Roman city of Pompeii served as the inspiration behind EUDON CHOI’s autumn/winter collection, Temporis Processum. The result? An elegant continuation of creative director Eudon Choi’s casual suiting within a new palette of muted pinks and blues reminiscent of tired frescoes. A pianist sat centre stage as velvet suiting (à la Tom Ford for Gucci), slinky silk numbers with crisscross detailing, and sheer polka-dotted pieces sauntered around The Hellenic Centre in Marylebone. The sublime tailoring spoke for itself, as it oozed with the feminine sensibility that is a constant within the brand. Exploring the beauty of decay, Choi left the luxurious fabrics with distressed and raw hems, which mirrored the destruction that Mount Vesuvius caused. 

Entering the Lancaster Ballroom in The Savoy with its sumptuous Edwardian décor and magnificent chandeliers, it was hard to imagine anything could pull focus. That was, until Conner Ives’ muses – or swans, as he likes to call them – emerged to dreamy melodies, parading around the space in bubble skirt mini gowns over trousers, shirred t-shirts with pleated skirts, and silk jersey maxi dresses adorned with shell fastened sashes. His autumn/winter collection, The Swans, recognised the women who have shaped him, with Alex Consani opening the show in a bias chiffon and vintage silk cowl-neck midi dress and Tish Weinstock closing the show in a demi-couture sheer silk organza sleeveless wedding dress embellished with wired headphone embroidery. Bothered by waste, Ives designed with reconstituted and deadstock textiles, breathing new life into the discarded.

Schoolgirl is the new cool girl according to Sinead Gorey. Picking up where she left off last season, Gorey designed with British youth culture in mind, transforming London’s world-famous Heaven nightclub into an early 2000s-themed spectacle fitted out with a corner shop, telephone booth, and bus stop. Mismatched tartan checks were spliced together in contrasting ruffles, pinstripe ties were not only tied around necks, but waists and hips too, and mini skirts couldn’t be any more micro. The Sinead Gorey schoolgirl, of course, does not believe in a dress code, sporting laddered tights and barely there bra tops. iPod shuffles and minis were repurposed as bracelets, earrings, and hair clips with wired headphones dangling from them, encapsulating the 00s flawlessly.

Dilara Findikoglu wants to abolish the patriarchy (don’t we all?), and her autumn/winter collection, Femme Vortex, called forth divine feminine energy, deconstructing masculinity and turning it on its head. Models hauntingly crept down the aisle of the Church of Saint Michael in Shoreditch to ominous music that found its way into every vault, adorned in latex bondage, unconventional workwear, and football gear. White button-up shirts and pinstripe blazers tied by the sleeves became skirts; bras and corsets held pens, watches, and lighters; and football scarves fastened with belts became tops. It was like a ritual, of sorts, breaking down traditional gender norms and replacing them with an idealised version of what Findikoglu imagines for the future. 

It was a family affair at Marques’Almeida. The husband-and-wife designer duo Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida returned to LFW for the first time since the pandemic, with long-time friends and their two kids taking to the runway held inside The Truman Brewery in Shoreditch. Mouth-watering brocade, a Marques’Almeida staple, took on new life in the form of structured bustiers, bell bottoms with raw hems, and single-breasted blazers. Playing with volume, the couple worked with heavy satin that created exaggerated bell skirts and organza frills that draped asymmetrically across the body. Not even the denim was boring, with a gradient melting the light wash into the dark. As their friends and family grow, the brand continues to embrace all walks of life, challenging the industry’s umbrage towards ageing.

Dimitra Petsa’s DI PETSA has consistently emphasised the female form, moulding the body into a celestial being. As a continuation of last season, she drew upon mythology for her collection, The Body As Prayer, hosting a ceremonial presentation with live Guzheng music, Petsa reciting Greek poetry, and the ringing of bells echoing through the runway at the Old Selfridges Hotel. Models were draped in Petsa’s signature wet look garments with cut-outs at the stomach – one of which divinely framed a model’s pregnant belly – leather gowns with lace-up detailing, and sheer maxi dresses. Closing the show in a shimmery deep blue gown, kitted out with a floor-length netted veil engulfed in pearls, Cindy Kimberly looked like a siren that had just grown legs. 

Plucked from childhood memories of his time spent in Crimea, FROLOV’s Ivan Frolov reminisced on his time spent under sun-soaked pine trees by the salty water, translating it into an exquisite collection laced with 90s and 00s references. Floating from the speakers, a composition based on the waltz, ‘Night in the Alupka’, serenaded the audience gathered within the first floor of Orchard Place at The Broadway in Westminster, as disco-ready feather trims, sheer draping, lacey lingerie, and fitted leather adornments popped against the red tinted windows within the workplace-esque venue. A melange of green and burgundy found its way onto sheer long-sleeve maxis and knee-length corset dresses, whilst a black semi-sheer bra, leopard printed underbust corset with an asymmetrical hem, and matching voluminous mermaid skirt stole the show.

words. Amber Louise
photography. Courtesy of Chris Yates (Edward Crutchley + FROLOV), Annie’s Ibiza, Dave Benett (Annie’s Ibiza) Jason Lloyd Evans (SRVC, Eudon Choi + DI PETSA), Iker Aldama (Conner Ives), Sinead Gorey, Dilara Findikoglu + Lee Scullion (Marques’Almeida)

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