Riccardo Tisci’s SS21 offering at Burberry is a love letter to the great British countryside. The creative director has spent the lockdown period with his 92-year-old mother in a house his father built near Lake Como, and he dedicated the collection to his period of reflection and experience in the outdoors. Tisci married his offline, natural catwalk landscape with a digital introduction featuring a number of famous faces on Twitch, which is where the runway livestream was also held. Soundtracked by musician Eliza Douglas and in collaboration with German performance artist Anne Imhof, Tisci described the show as “a radical meeting of fashion and art”.
The rootsy surroundings of his quarantine made him reconnect with his childhood and the innocent mindset with which he pursued his dreams. Perhaps this was why he mused in the show notes of a “love affair between a mermaid and a shark” – and the collection certainly reflected this vision. His opening looks were a wash of deep cobalt, cyan and indigo, emblazoned with patches reading “Swim with the great Burberry shark at your own risk!” Elsewhere in the collection, nautical references in the form of fisherman’s hats, fishtail illustrations and netting (bedazzled in crystals, obviously) harkened back to the launch of Thomas Burberry’s first technical gabardine.
With 59 looks this is also Tisci’s smallest collection to date at Burberry (his debut featured more than double), and yet by far this felt his most confident and succinct yet, blending the classic Burberry tailoring and contemporary streetwear silhouettes that he regularly features in a much more natural and effortless way. Iconic Burberry trenches were updated with denim panels and leather sleeves while maintaining the British heritage style, and were a standout in the collection.
This season, Halpern paid tribute to the heroines of the frontline. Captured in film and portraits, eight women from across the public service sectors reflect on their work during the lockdown period. Michael Halpern created two looks for each of his muses, inspired by their individuality, courage and joie de vivre. The looks – largely constructed in-house – draw on the silhouettes, technique and fabrication native to haute couture.
After spending the spring volunteering in a makeshift PPE factory in London, Halpern decided to devote his platform to the heroines “who put their lives on the line for us every day.” He cast eight frontline workers – including TLF train operators, hospital staff from a gynaecologist to a hospital cleaner and night bus station controller – and designed bespoke looks for them, capturing their stories in a short film released alongside a look book featuring the full collection.
Featuring references from the 1930s to the 1970s, the collection exudes defiant glamour. Sequin pyjama sets, plumes of ostrich features and leopard jacquard feature heavily in the collection. While the feminine frills may not initially conjure the themes or aesthetics of activism, Halpern was focused on celebrating these heroines in the way he knows best – in bespoke gowns.
With a year punctuated by social movements and global protests, it was surprising not to see a Vivienne Westwood lined with picketing models. In all honesty, after a year so defined by the Black Lives Matter protests I was concerned Westwood may veer past the line of what is acceptable to appropriate. I was, however, pleasantly surprised to see Westwood take a back seat this time and instead offer up her platform to a new generation of activists. Familiar faces Delilah and Ursula Holiday of Skinny Girl Diet, poet Kai Isaiah and activist Georgia Palmer featured among others in the fashion film and look book collection that Westwood premiered online today.
The punk-infused film, set to ‘Untitled’ by poet Brian Nasty, came with an announcement that the brand is choosing to reduce its production to only one collection a year, disrupting the fashion schedule in a way we have come to expect from the activist designer. “Buy less, dress up, swap clothes,” she says. “Wear your evening clothes to the office if you go back to work, mix seasons.”
The collection itself is a unisex mix of suits and sweats, featuring prints designed by Pretenders front-woman Chrissie Hynde, a long-standing friend of the brand. In lieu of a fee for her contribution, a donation was made to her non-profit Ahimsa Milk, an ethical and sustainable dairy farm that doesn’t kill its cows. This season, it feels like Westwood has almost got it all together – the messaging, the diverse faces of activism, the long-standing sustainability commitments. I think, perhaps, all that is missing is the clothes.
Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi’s SS21 collection takes its inspiration from a place many parents around the country have had to reluctantly adapt to – homeschooling. Whilst at home with their two children over the lockdown, the family of four began scrapbooking leaves, bits of lace and old photograph cut-outs into a patchwork journal of their life and home in Surrey.
The results culminated in an ethereal fashion film shot on a canal in Canterbury. The collection features many of the tropes we’ve come to expect from the design duo – pretty florals, large volumes of balloon sleeves and effortless frills – creating an idyllic and English-romantic glimpse into what we all hope for next summer. Some dresses featured the same patchworking that their children had suggested, and these were by far the most modern designs in the collection. Many featured the same exposed overlocked seam popularised by fellow London designer Asai in his Fashion East debut back in 2017 that has massively made its way into the mainstream thanks to the at-home designers of Depop over lockdown.
I think it’s fair to say that while this collection is another beautiful offering from the pair, that after a year with such power for transformation and innovation – florals for spring hardly feels groundbreaking.
This season, London designer Matty Bovan invited LFW viewers a glimpse into the designer’s abstract process in creating their new collection, filmed in a neo-classical church in York using a combination of multiple vintage tapes and new cameras. The designer said in their press release that they had “always had a fascination with British history” since they were a child, and this became the inspiration behind their latest collection, ‘Future.Olde.England’.
Working once again with Heritage icons Liberty Fabrics, Bovan used the florals on heavy denim, poplin and their classic Tana Lawn print to evoke a sense of childhood nostalgia, and used offcuts from his previous collections to create voluminous pleats in bright colours.
With visions of English school rugby kits, striped and checked sweatshirting is swathed around the body, into battle-ready shapes over foam bases, distorted in length and scale, forming elongated tie skirts. Elsewhere, heraldry shields were printed onto slashed motorbike leathers and transformed into long skirts. The resulting collection was a masterclass in messy, and a reminder that when it comes to luxury design, prim and proper may be profitable but it often leads to boring design. It is safe to say there’s nothing boring about Bovan.
There are few designers with a CV quite like Edward Crutchley. Since graduating Central Saint Martins in 2003, he has been a consultant to Kanye West and streetwear giant Supreme, and worked with Kim Jones from his time at Louis Vuitton to Dior. So, when Crutchley is on the schedule for London Fashion Week all eyes are on him.
For SS21, Edward Crutchley turned to on-going collaborator Stephen Jones, who crafted floating ribbon headdresses inspired by Chinese temple guardian statues. Always one to give a little history lesson with his continued modernisation of traditional dress, Crutchley’s latest collection was inspired by the avenging Yakuza bosses in Hideo Gosha’s 1986 film Gokudô.
His menswear included casual wear items inspired by the film’s silhouettes, including satin pyjama-style coords and tailoring. The standout piece was a floor-length kaftan with exaggerated shoulders and cinched waists, which helped add some drama to the otherwise conservative pieces. Meanwhile, his womenswear was much bolder with shape and pattern, but still managed to make way for a grey Thatcher-esque untailored skirt suit. While the Gokudô references were strong throughout, the collection lacked cohesion and the limited number of looks impaired the collection’s ability to tell a story. Maybe he should have left that to Gosha.
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