Cool Britannia: Fashion Week comes to London – and it’s as edgy as ever

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Following hot on the heels of New York Fashion Week, London’s top designers have been presenting their collections for spring/summer 2024 in the famously avant garde city.

Known as the edgiest of the four style capitals, London is best known for its championing of avant garde design and up-and-coming talent.

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Despite not playing host to as many big name fashion houses as New York, Paris and Milan, looks from the runways nevertheless manage to influence trends for the coming season.

This September’s iteration, taking place until 19 September, is no exception.

Euronews Culture is here to give you the lowdown of some of the very best stand-out moments and shows so far, as the fashion world presents their looks for spring/summer 2024. 

You are now arriving at Burberry Street

Even before their upcoming show, Burberry was the talk of London.

The British fashion house has collaborated with Transport for London (TfL) to transform Bond Street tube station ‘Burberry Street’.

Extending to its entrance, signage, and TfL roundels, Burberry has fully taken over the central London station, even going so far as to adorn the branding with the ‘knight blue’ hue – a new colour introduced to the brand by Chief Creative Officer Daniel Lee.

While fashionistas have been taking to social media to share their love of the makeover, other internet users have taken a dimmer view. Some say the collaboration is confusing to commuters and tourists alike, and was a bad move on both Burberry and TfL’s parts.

A sporty turn on the runway at Paul Costelloe

Kicking off September’s Fashion Week on-schedule shows was mainstay Paul Costelloe.

Taking over the greenhouse-esque Royal Horticultural Halls in central London, the Irish designer’s models basked in the late summer sun as they strutted down the catwalk.

The looks gave hope for all of us who dread the autumn and winter, with Costelloe’s designs inspired by English country gardens and the British sporting tradition.

Models wore sleeveless shirts, lace dresses, and blue and white stripes while carrying tennis racquets or croquet mallets.

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Accompanied by a painted floral landscape backdrop, others wore hair bows and knitted jumpers knotted around their shoulders – giving a perfectly British heritage look to the proceedings.

Art meets fashion at JW Anderson

2023 is arguably the year of JW Anderson. The Northern Irish designer is the brains behind Loewe – named as the hottest brand of the year.

The much-praised creative director was one of the biggest names at LFW, putting on his eponymous label’s show at London’s impressive Roundhouse venue.

Using unconventional materials for his SS24 collection, he made sure his designs lived up to his reputation.

Using fabrics including clay and plastic, the collection blurred the lines between sculpture and garment, with models wearing moulded-clay cropped t-shirts, folded denim shorts and balloon-like padded plastic ensembles opening the show.

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Even shorts were made out of clay, although it’s unlikely these edgy pieces will be on sale when the looks drop next spring.

More wearable pieces included blazers and oversized biker jackets alongside low-waisted cargo trousers and crochet minidresses.

Playing with proportions and textures, too, the colour palette was a mix of subtle beige, blue and brown tones countered with acid brights making the show a fashion journey from start to finish.

An intersection between fashion and costume at Molly Goddard

Rihanna’s favourite designer Molly Goddard’s SS24 Ready-to-Wear runway took place at the Christie’s auction house, and the setting fit the vibe perfectly.

The collection featured nods to archival fashion, with looks incorporating bloomers, Georgian underskirts and undone dress clasps.

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Known for her signature tulle dresses, she took it even further this season. 

Goddard spent time at the National Theatre’s costume hire department, where she studied crinolines and historical underwear like bras from the 1950s, Victorian christening gowns, and the aforementioned Georgian underskirts.

Presenting deconstructed pieces throughout, she focused on elements of clothing we don’t usually see, making them beautiful as she did so.

Boning, strapping and zips were all on display as were elastic and zig zag stitching – all featured on garments as quirky decorative motifs.

Roses everywhere at Simone Rocha

Known for her whimsical and feminine approach to fashion, Irish designer Simone Rocha went fully into balletcore for her S/S 24 show.

Taking over the rehearsal room of the English National Ballet, Rocha incorporated her trademark bows all over dresses as well as adding roses to nearly every piece.

Roses were the theme of the day, as models carried single blooms fashioned with pearls and others had their legs adorned with temporary red rose tattoos while wearing garments stuffed with the delicate flower.

Models also wore a range of ballet pumps – a huge trend for this autumn – suggesting they’re going nowhere fast.

Adding a little edge to the show were pearl-embellished bags and, notably, pearl-studded Crocs – the ultimate in whimsy. Expect to see them on the feet of every fashionista from 1 March next year.

Beauty meets sadness at Richard Quinn

British designer Richard Quinn didn’t leave a dry eye in the house when he came out to embrace his mother at the end of his S/S 24 show.

The presentation was dedicated to his late father Patrick, who died in June. In the show notes, Richard Quinn had written: “In times of great sadness and loss comes a sense of reflection and calm” and, on the other side, “This one’s for you Dad”.

Held at the stunning grade II-listed ballroom at the Andaz hotel, Quinn’s hallmarks peppered the collection throughout.

Featuring embellishments aplenty, botanical prints and feminine silk and tulle prints, Quinn closed the show with ‘00s supermodel Jessica Stam – a nod to the current nostalgia towards top models of years past.

Even the makeup worn by the models reflected the contemplative mood of the show.

Make-up artist Terry Barber described the looks as: “Slightly sombre, slightly fragile, like a really beautiful Victorian portrait… It almost looks like they’ve just cried and their eyes are a little bit wet”.

Cool Britannia is back again – but did it ever really leave?

Unlike the chic designs of Paris’ top houses and the all-out glamour seen on the runways of Milan, London is known for its fresh and unusual approach to fashion.

‘Cool Britannia’ is a long-used phrase to describe the looks coming out of the British capital and this Fashion Week’s shows lived up to that idiom.

Among the standouts this time around were Chopova Lowena, a London-based label headed up by designers Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena-Irons.

Showing their ‘Girl’s Tear, Girls Tear’ in the perfect setting of a skate park, they fused their Bulgarian background with looks inspired by British skater boys and 1990s grunge.

Models wore bomber jackets with sweatshirts underneath – so far, so teenage dirtbag. But the outfits were glammed up with the label’s debut collection of handbags.

Carried two at a time down the runway, they were worn with short, spiked boots which were part of a collaboration with UGG.

The show closed out with multiple white and cream voluminous shirts and dresses – a continuation of their recent bridal collaboration for SSENSE.

It was a colour riot at Mark Fast. The Canadian designer showed audiences that Barbiecore is here to stay, putting out bright pink, soft lilac and baby blue pieces alongside punchy lime and orange garments.

Taking inspiration from the desert, raves and musical festivals, the collection meshed 1980s and ‘90s-esque cutout jumpsuits with retro scarf tops and fringed cowboy boots – all perfect for next summer’s outdoor events. 

The gothic backdrop of St Cyprian’s Church in Marylebone was a perfect vibe for Edward Crutchley’s latest collection. In the show notes, the looks were described as inspired by a “mediaeval playground fight” and were mostly monochrome in colour, but quirky in print.

Featuring block stripes, Harlequin diamonds and Crutchley’s wheel-shaped logo throughout, models wore pleated trousers and ruffled dresses emblazoned with the details.

Shown as a unisex collection, models also donned puffer jackets and sharply cut blazers.

With an overall ambience giving none other than Wednesday Addams, goth-chic accessories included velvet chokers, chunky black footwear and micro-sunglasses.

London Fashion Week 2023: Friday 15 – Tuesday 19 September 2023.

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