While a tense political undercurrent seemed omnipresent at New York Fashion Week this season — and saw many designers infusing their shows with activism — London Fashion Week was largely unconcerned with such matters. Instead, ageism moved to the forefront — and a host of young designers (which we’ve come to expect from Britain) laid the foundations for promising careers. Here are our takeaways from London Fashion Week.
Ageism took center stage…
Simone Rocha leaned into the industry’s growing efforts to subvert ageism by sending out models of all ages at her show on Saturday. Famed British models like 70-year-old Jan de Villeneuve and 50-year-old Cecilia Chancellor walked alongside current ingenues like Adwoa Aboah and Mica Argañaraz. She had help from the beloved casting director Piergiorgio Del Moro, who worked with Alexander Wang and Victoria Beckham in New York.
The casting was particularly well-timed, as London Fashion Week kicked off last week with a protest by a handful of older models angry at the industry’s lack of inclusion. Led by Jilly Johnson, models over the age of 45 gathered outside the week’s main venue with signs that read “Stop ageism at London Fashion Week” and “Fashion has no age limit.” “Why don’t they have the imagination to embrace us, rather than pretending we don’t exist?” Johnson asked of today’s designers in an op-ed for The Daily Mail. Well, Rocha, at least, seems willing.
Older models walk the runway at Simone Rocha FW ’17.
…but Britain’s youthquake is strong as ever.
Nevertheless, London Fashion Week is still known for its celebration of youth culture, and this season was no exception. Fashion East, the non-profit initiative launched by Lulu Kennedy to nurture young designers, had four upstarts showing at the Tate Modern this season. Critics were particularly smitten with Matty Bovan and Supriya Yele, which is no small thing given the success of prior standout Fashion East designers (including the aforementioned Rocha and also J.W. Anderson).
Donatella Versace also brought her younger, edgier brand, Versus, back to London this season. The unisex show featured an endless stream of today’s “it” models like Lineisy Montero and Stella Maxwell, and the brand’s beloved Hadid sisters opening and closing the show. The audience followed suit — Kate Moss’s little sister Lottie (who’s 19 years old) and Madonna’s son, Rocco Ritchie (16) sat in the front row.
Burberry reigned supreme…
Burberry continued to be the hottest ticket in town, attracting a star-studded audience, including Naomi Campbell and Suki Waterhouse, to its show at Makers House on Monday. The distinctively British brand partnered with the Henry Moore Foundation this year to celebrate the organization’s 40th anniversary, as well as the artist himself: Chief creative officer and CEO Christopher Bailey took inspiration from Moore’s iconic drawings and sculptures, which lined the runway.
As has been the case for the last few seasons, the brand put on a unisex show that was immediately shoppable, continuing their case for see-now-buy-now, not to mention streamlining the endless show schedule. The collection will be on view through February 27 at Makers House alongside Moore works and various events geared toward the anniversary.
Models at the Halpern FW ’17 presentation.
…and Halpern established himself as the next big thing.
Michael Halpern caught the attention of veteran fashion critic Sarah Mower last season when he showed his graduate MA collection at Central Saint Martin’s. Impressed by his sequin-heavy, disco-inspired pieces, Mower helped him secure a gig as a consultant to Atelier Versace. Beyoncé has also embraced the designer, donning one of his signature sparkly getups to her birthday party this year.
Endorsements like that made his debut presentation on Saturday at LFW a hot ticket, with top editors like Suzy Menkes and Edward Enninful in attendance, as well as a slew of buyers who were quick to scoop up his looks. According to the New York Times, MatchesFashion, Bergdorf Goodman and Miami’s Webster boutique have already placed orders. That’s an impressive feat for anyone. We expect buzz around the 29-year-old New York native to grow in coming seasons.