London Fashion Week Straddles the Digital and the Physical
There has been a much awaited buzz surrounding this season’s London Fashion Week SS22, presented by Clearpay, the five day event (17 – 21 September) welcomed a full schedule of physical events; catwalk shows, presentations and drinks parties, alongside globally accessible digital films.
With over 100 participating designers showcases ranged from intimate and exclusive to city-wide celebrations open to all. While the pandemic and pressing questions around excessiveness and sustainability have come to the fore in recent years, key industry figures were clearly pleased to re-group and have a full physical schedule to attend.
On day 1 Paul Costelloe opened up his atelier for an exclusive insight into his design process. From his hand drawn fashion illustrations and his selected fabric swatches on the wall to the finished collection worn and professionally modelled right before your eyes. The designer himself was accessible and happy to chat and sign illustrations and the ambience was informal and relaxed.
For Spring/Summer 2022 Paul has been inspired by the Ancient Celtic Art and Illuminated Manuscript of The Book of Kells. His bespoke woven linen fabric is printed with his scroll-like patterns while his key shapes take on a couture-like opulence with exaggerated puff sleeves, bouffant dresses and square-shouldered jackets. The emphasis was on hand-production and this really shone through in a palette of pale blue, washed-out pink and faded sepia.
One noticeable difference at this season’s event was the lack of a central LFW HQ. TikTok hosted the NEWGEN show space at The Old Selfridges Hotel working with Henry Holland as Creative Producer, however there was no exhibition space or media lounge available. TikTok’s presence was also felt elsewhere as the host to a series of panel discussions, workshops and social events.
Back to the collections on show and for Osman Yousefzada fashion circularity and biodegradability was central to his thinking. Questioning what really happens to past season’s clothes he opted to use biodegradable fabrics such as Tencel Luxe along with environmentally-friendly dyes to ensure negative impact is kept to a minimum.
Known for his body-con knitwear Mark Fast delivered a 90’s inspired collection that combined bleached denim and neon with his fitted micro knits. Many of his designs featured cutaway sections finished in metallic crochet, which gave a hardware-like zipper or chain link appearance adding to the punky, urban finish.
London is known as the city to discover new talent and Ravensbourne University London were proudly billed as the only University invited to showcase at London Fashion Week. Ravensbourne combined both digital and physical with an online virtual dreamscape film and a presentation at the W Hotel in Soho.
Working on their collections during lockdown the graduates embraced digital technologies, such as Optitex, to manipulate and create patterns for their designs. By using 3D avatars the designs could accurately be tried and tested without the need of creating toiles and expensively experimenting with fabrics. Each designer presented their unique vision that ranged from 3D printed fantastical dresses to origami-pleated designs that enveloped the form. It felt new and innovative and a direction the industry needs to go in. Ravensbourne are completely switched on to this emerging discipline and are now offering a Digital Technology Pathway as part of their BA (Hons) Fashion course.
While invite-only shows took place in venues dotted around London from swimming pools to churches, there was another emphasis on the event being open to all. In collaboration with retailers, venues, hospitality partners and brands over 100 events were open to the public. One designer embracing the concept was Phoebe English, known for her considered, timeless designs she rejects mass-made or throwaway fashion, and quite possibly is the most democratic designer on the schedule.
Phoebe held her installation at the British Library, which she invited all to see. She explained that she liked the idea of showing in a format that has more longevity which enables the chance to explain about the garments; where the fabrics are sourced and why certain design choices are made. Phoebe’s SS22 collection for men and women centres on fuss-free silhouettes with unique detail tweaks that focus on wearable craftsmanship in fabrics and tones that will last beyond the season.
To catch up and view the London Fashion Week digital schedule tap here.
Catwalk / presentation images by Chris Daw.