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Back with a Vengeance – LFW February 2023


After a succession of knock-backs; the UK’s exit from the EU, a global pandemic and the death of the country’s longest-reigning monarch, it felt like London Fashion Week had finally made a pivotal return for its AW23 instalment. 

Commencing from Friday 17th February, the official LFW schedule was packed full of design talent, old and new, but first, there was a moment of reflection for Dame Vivienne Westwood. The British Fashion Council stated that London Fashion Week February 2023 was dedicated to the memory and legacy of the late designer and activist. Her influence could be clearly seen on and off the catwalk, as tartan and corsets were combined with pearls and Westwood’s distinctive orb logo. Revered for straddling the past with the future, Westwood was proof that a designer can have a long standing career in a notoriously tough industry.

It seemed rather apt that another long-established designer, Paul Costelloe, proceeded to officially kick-off the schedule with his collection inspired by James Joyce’s Ulysses and his home city of Dublin. Step forward vibrant redheads in tailored tweeds, super sharp shoulders and voluminous winter floral gowns. 

Paul Costelloe AW23 images by Chris Daw

London, of course, has long been hailed as the place to spot fashion’s next big thing and that’s where another industry legend needs to be celebrated. Along with Westwood, we recently said farewell to the fashion journalist and director Hilary Alexander. Hilary lived and breathed fashion and was passionate about supporting the industry’s next generation and talent coming through at Graduate Fashion Week.

This nurturing of the new continues with Lee Lapthorne, founder of the On|Off talent support programme that’s been giving new designers a platform since 2002. The On|Off team aren’t afraid to go with unconventional choices bridging that fine line between art and wearability. This season was particularly exciting as three, unique designers – Taskin, Oscar Keene and Valaclava utilised new technology to present their designs.

Valaclava in the real and virtual world’s

A London Fashion Week first, On|Off hosted a ‘real time virtual fashion show’. Valaclava, a gaming-world-to-real-world apparel brand born from gaming and crypto culture, presented their functional designs on models against a green backdrop to appear on what looked like another planet on the accompanying flat screen TV. Valaclava use 3D digital product creation to make customisable designs that are only produced when sold.

Oscar Keene also takes this multidisciplinary approach by combining immersive digital content with physical collections. Here the Melbourne based designer presented Harlequin print deigns overlayed with florals that merges the hand-drawn with 3D animation. Oscar additionally combines glossy latex details such as pie-crust collars, leg of mutton sleeves and a smattering of horns for an overall dramatic effect.

Designing special items for the metaverse Taskin Goec said: “We are already the product of a mixed reality: online and offline identities are inseparable (but the fashion industry has not made great efforts to create radical new concepts that reflect this). Therefore, the revolutionary quality of this show is that it makes a truly contemporary proposition: fashion that reflects how we simultaneously live in digital and physical reality.” 

Elsewhere on the schedule rave and cowgirl styling were at the fore as Sinead Gorey showed us a good time in a plethora of stretch nylon jersey with body-shaping cord cut-outs. Throw in some digital prints, beaded fringing and some faux fur and Sinead’s models were ready to party all night long.

Sinead Gorey images by Chris Daw

Digital prints seemed to appear across the board this season along with bold checks and pops of bright pink and orange. It is always tremendously exciting for our team at the Fashion Studio in Haringey to see the designs they have helped bring to life, with their high quality pattern cutting and stitching skills, being worn on the catwalk. This season Fashion Studio Manager, Agnes Szepligeti, worked with the Australian artist Tahlia Stanton on her designs for GENT London. 

GENT London rework high end, vintage classics by collaborating with renowned artists to create hand painted one-off wearable art. This season this included Tahlia, with over 2 million social media followers, Tahlia’s work celebrates beauty, freedom and self-expression, and is promoted almost exclusively through TikTok, Instagram and YouTube.

Fashion Studio’s Agnes with artist Tahlia Stanton
Agnes with models wearing Tahlia’s tapestry designs

Instead of painting on existing garments Tahlia created distinctive tapestries that incorporate her fashion illustrative style. It was with these tapestries and design ideas that Agnes and the Fashion Studio team got to work on the patterns and samples. Tahlia’s three GENT London collaborative designs were presented on the catwalk at Soho House during London Fashion Week and the feedback was fantastic.

Agnes commented: “GENT London created this live event to promote CATCH 22 and as an umbrella for new artists to showcase their work. The main part of the show was about fashion and artist collaborations and creating contemporary art from upcycled luxury garments and bags.

We met with Tahlia Stanton at the fitting before the event and we were greeted with a special welcome upon arrival to the show. Her humble and beautiful personality shines through her work, and captivates everyone. The highlight of the event was of course our 3 garments, which we made from Tahlia’s printed tapestry. The three looks included her hand painted luxury bags which matched our dresses and perfectly reflected her style.

“Tahlia’s tapestry type of fabric requires a great skillset to work with and modify. We needed Singh, our expert sample machinist, to be able to create the finish, which resembled the Chanel and Dior resort collections with all the applied fringes and small details on the cuffs, pockets and zips. Our master cutter Boyko made the pattern pieces with placement print cutting, to emphasise Tahlia artwork. It was challenging but I believe the result was worth the effort and the guests were amazed and stood up and clapped when our garments arrived on the catwalk.

“I was very proud to be there and represent us, and it will surely be the start of a great collaboration with more artists in the future.”

Here is a visual round-up of from some of the shows and presentations the FashionCapital team attended this season.

ApuJan presented their collection online
Vin + Omi’s digital prints were inspired by space, image by Chris Daw
MARRKNULL explored humanity and nature
Edeline Lee presented her collection in a series of set up street scenes, image by Leah Martin
Tata Naka presented their collection on dancers from the Masters of Ballet Academy, images by Chris Daw
Oversized was a key theme at Helen Anthony, image by Chris Daw
New talent on show at Fashion Scout China, image by Chris Daw
Fashion Scout China – Shuxuan G, image by Chris Daw

Big thanks to the designers and their PR’s, photographer Chris Daw and the FashionCapital team.

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