London Fashion Week Goes Digital 

June 17, 2020


Fashion has been hurting and many of the usual fashion events cancelled for 2020. London Fashion Week Reset was an opportunity for us all to be involved in the very first gender neutral and digital version. Some of the big names like Victoria Beckham and Burberry were missing , but this enabled me to investigate brands that I was not familiar with. Creatives were invited to reset and present their collections in different ways. Coronavirus has caused Fashion to pause and rethink its practice. Going forward expect to see fewer and smaller collections, with sustainability a hot topic and brands who are more aware of their environmental and social impact.

Some of the great messages embraced for the London Spring/Summer 2021 Collections were diversity, conversations about race and access for all. Whilst nothing can actually replace viewing the collections in real time, it was a chance for me to revisit any shows I missed because of the time difference and for the creatives to present their work in new and interesting ways. Many designers presented small capsule collections or videos and short films of their designs or process. There were discussions between industry professionals, designers and influencers plus live podcasts and virtual reality exhibitions. 

One of my favourites was from Taiwanese born designer, Malan Breton. Malan’s mantra is “Wherever you go, Shine” and shine he did. His collection called Immortal was futuristic, bright and structural. It was full of sequins and shine. Cropped jackets, bucket hats, figure hugging dresses and pants were a delight. It was an exuberant showcase of glamour and creativity featuring CGI designed and developed models whose features and functionality were fully 3D. 

Colours on show were yellow, green and his signature colour Breton blue with black and metallics on display. There were catlike bodysuits in blue and black. Colourful Covid masks made an appearance. His prints were covetable and featured butterfly wings, artichoke flower, plumeria and ginger. All plants related to health, acension and immortality. 

Fabrics used were traditional chiffons, leather, brocade, organza and summer weight wools. I absolutely loved these looks with their nod to the 20’s and 30’s. Malan’s separates that showed clean lines could easily be incorporated into your existing wardrobe. I would wear many of them. 

Malan is a man of many talents including film and music video director and his show was exciting and beautiful. The use of the butterfly motif inspired hope and rebirth for me. The avatars were so realistic. His celebrity line up of CGI characters included Kiera Chaplin, the granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin, American singer and dancer, Frankie Grande and Marie Claire’s curve journalist and plus size model, Hayley Hasselhoff. It was a really beautiful and diverse presentation.

In contrast, but equally covetable was the work of Marques Almeida with his reM’ade label. Their philosophy is a new way of making fashion. Every one of their pieces is created based on a real demand for it. When there is no more fabric for a certain design, it is not produced anymore. This makes every piece a limited edition. It is responsible fashion which is totally transparent. 

The reM’ade collection is designed as a patchwork of in-house dead stock fabrics from previous collections and using recycled fabrics. It transforms waste into new fashion. The fabrics are beautiful and colourful and you know how I love a print clash, they have plenty in their collection. Their pieces are the ultimate in print clashing with touches of feather and faux fur used in new and original ways. 

I loved the olive green patchwork boyfriend trousers and blazer and could also see myself wearing the patchwork frill skirts. All of their shirts and knits were amazing. The more classic pieces in block and geometrics were so wearable but very cool. Colours were mustard, pink, red, black and plenty of pattern. I love the whole concept and Marques Almeida is working to transform fashion into a regenerative force.

Teatum Jones Relove 2020 took a zero waste approach to fashion. The presentation was so refreshing. They asked people to speak about what Relove means to them, to style a favourite Teatum Jones design with a favourite piece, describe what they think fashion could be in the future and discuss where they would wear their outfit coming out of lockdown. Teatum Jones is fashion made by human stories and the stories from such a diverse and eclectic group were fascinating. 

Many said Relove meant seeing, “Old friends just waiting to come out of the wardrobe to go on new adventures.” Relove means buying once and buying well. It encompasses being able to rediscover, rewrite, redefine, reuse and recycle. Your clothes should remind you of happy times and can be passed down through generations. 

Teatum Jones was one of the first brands to embrace inclusivity and is now working with dead stock fabrics and innovating textiles to create fabulous pieces. There were gowns with voluminous sleeves, printed bombers, fabulous coats and pant suits and lots of happy colours like pink, red and purple. There was fringing and lace and subtle print in cool blues. The pieces invoked a pure happiness within me and many pieces were gender neutral.  

London Fashion Week may have felt different this year, but for those who participated it was an exercise in creativity in a time like no other in any of our lives. The fashion innovation and conversations explored showed the limitless possibilities for fashion to be a part of the solution and not part of the problem, by being kinder, more expansive and inclusive.

Nobody needs eight collections a year anymore. Fashions do not need to be shown to a schedule. Now is a time for slow fashion, considering waste and sustainability. Fashion could affect lives across the globe in a more positive way by showing more empathy and ethical values but and there is always a but, I still worry about the clothing manufacturing industry in places like Taiwan and Bangladesh. People rely on these jobs. What will happen to them?

We all missed that quirky and eclectic London street style and seeing who won the golden ticket for the elusive front row. But for me, here in Australia, it was a breath of fresh air to still be able to be a part of the fashion conversation. In July I was supposed to be in Paris for my very favourite Haute Couture Shows. It will be interesting to see how these are approached. They have had more time to prepare and with restrictions easing they may have more access to real models, practising social distancing. Only time will tell. 

I believe that this digital London Fashion Week was a success because of the original ways in which each different designer responded. The London creatives showed their commitment to social issues and sustainability, even in a time when they are scrambling to survive. London Fashion Week Reset exceeded expectations and provided an inclusive, thought provoking and modern platform for the fashion industry and creatives and selfishly for me I could wake up all the way here in Australia and sit in my PJ’s, oops I mean my Dior gown, and catch up on what I’d missed overnight from this epicentre of fashion, no plane ride needed.

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