London Fashion Week SS21 Highlights: The Good, The Bad, And The Apocalyptic
With the British government limiting gatherings to six people in public just days before London Fashion Week, most brands opted to go digital with fashion short films and panels with the exception of a few. Our correspondent Declan Chan found himself sequestered in a friend's home with some fellow influencers to review some shows for the British Fashion Council on some days and then headed off to a far flung show on another. Thankfully, the London Fashion Week website also aggregated all the digital shows, becoming a one-stop destination (complete with a countdown clock for upcoming presentations), making things a little more digestible for audiences.
It was certainly an odd start to the fashion season to say the least. What we've seen so far, including the few presentations in New York, is designers taking either a half is glass full or half empty approach—some opt for a profusion of colour and dainty prints, encouraging audiences to dream of brighter days ahead, others go dark with haunting spectacles reflecting the difficult times we live in.
Here we breakdown the highlights of the week.
A Hong Kong Star at Burberry
One of the biggest brands to show during London is of course Riccardo Tisci's Burberry. This time, it was set in an ominous forest sans audience as models weaved between the trees first in trenches spliced with denim, a flurry of surreal graphic prints, and then a series of crystal-lined leggings and tops. A performance created by artist Anne Imhof, while Eliza Douglas sang in the background completed the haunting tone of the show. We loved seeing Hong Kong's rising model Eliza Rutson (daughter of Sarah Rutson) make her debut for the British house. "It was amazing to be a part of such a creative performance and be included in [Tisci's] vision," she tells us exclusively.
Short Films We Loved: Halpern, Vivienne Westwood, Preen, Emilia Wickstead, Erdem
At Halpern, eight women from across the public service sectors who served on the frontlines during this pandemic vibrant donned bubble dresses and danced ebulliently in front of the camera, as interviews of their experiences punctuated the fashion.
Vivienne Westwood, which traditionally showed in Paris, came home to London and continued to showcase a youthful, punk-plaid aesthetic. Models in masks that said "True Punk" are also seen up in arms in protest.
Preen's ethereal film shows models draped over a longboat serenely drifting through a canal while the camera pans to the beautiful microfloral dresses that make up its SS21 collection.
Emilia Wickstead presented one of our favourite collections so far with a short film. "Real people" models (including renowned publisher and consultant Caroline Issa), wore cropped boleros as tops, exposing the underboob as well as dresses dotted with stunning prints of ships, red gowns with wide, tulip collars, and itsy bitsy bustiers—basically everything we want to wear to an elegant garden party come spring.
Like Burberry, Erdem also chose a forest as the setting for its short film, where models walked the grassy runway in floral, jacquard suits, wallpaper-print Victorian dresses paired with neckerchiefs and princess-shouldered gowns with lots of ribbon.
Shows We Loved: Victoria Beckham, David Koma, Paria Farzaneh
Victoria Beckham explains in the beginning of her filmed runway show—set in an art gallery, also sans audience—that this collection is all about ease of fit and realistic dressing. Cue elongated jackets, fluid, strappy lace dresses, and her signature bell-bottomed trousers, all in beautifully colour-blocked pastels. The highlight would have to be the chunky gold necklace of dreams, adorned with an XXL gold hoop in the center that we're sure will be all over street style snaps next season.
David Koma knitted polos seen everywhere this summer gets a sparkly update at David Koma's SS21 show set in a spectator-free tennis court. Models strutted in tennis-ball-green body-con mini dresses, netted gowns and blazers with bedazzled tennis rackets etched in the back, in line with Koma's sport-glam aesthetic beloved by the likes of Kylie Jenner.
Emerging London-based designer Paria Farzaneh invited a handful of editors and influencers to the countryside town of Amersham for what many described as an apocalyptic show, including Declan, who was sat on a grassy hill as fiery explosions went off in the distance, gunshots were heard and models stormed into the audience wearing camouflage, cargo trousers and parkas made using traditional textiles from Farzaneh's hometown of Iran. She had hoped to reflect the "troubles in America" which included violent protests and wildfires amongst others.