Representing the creative future

He said, she said, they said

Professional commentators, fashion students and members of the public reflect on six defining shows from London Fashion Week

There are moments when fashion feels perfectly in tune with the zeitgeist, seamlessly marrying designers’ visions with consumers’ desires. Other times, fashion feels entirely absurd. When the fashion press rave about hemlines and handbags, do the public care? Do they get it? We took to the streets over London Fashion Week to ask members of the public – people more au fait with drainpipes than piping (hi Chris the plumber!) – what they thought of six defining shows. With a little help from fashion students and the odd comment from professional reviewers, we’ve covered Richard Quinn‘s feathered flower girls and Christopher Kane‘s eco-sexuality to Tisci’s Burberry and Templers’ Ports 1961. We even threw in Simone Rocha and JW Anderson for good measure. Enjoy!

Richard Quinn
Curated by Zofia Zwieglinksa

What the press said…

“Lines snaked around the street outside East London’s York Hall, where the spring 2020 Richard Quinn show was set to take place, with guests waiting more than 40 minutes post the scheduled start time to be let in. ‘It better be worth it’ was the general consensus. It most definitely was.” – Natalie Theodosi, WWD

“Spectacles don’t come much bigger than that, and usually productions like this are staged by huge fashion houses. Quinn orchestrated his with a core team of ‘six or seven of us’ from the aforementioned railway arch and the Airbnb that he rented in town for fashion week, to save time commuting to and from Kent, where he still lives with his parents. He’s yet to embrace the starry lifestyle. A few days before the show, I asked him how he intended to celebrate. How do you follow up a show on this scale? ‘Usually we go out and get trashed. Or we’d go for a Five Guys.’” – Charlie Gowans-Eglinton, The Telegraph

He is competing with big names for headlines and retail space, but he seems to handle himself just fine. His fashion recalls the great era of haute couture. The extravagant sartorial style of the young designer truly goes against the current, but also against morose geopolitics and all things pedestrian.” – Pam Boy, LOVE Magazine

What the fashion students said…

“I can’t tell if he is being ironic with all of the referencing but there’s loads of Hedi Slimane, Balenciaga and Valentino Couture…even Rodarte too. Overall it feels like the worst 80s spin-off imaginable. The stuff at the beginning like the latex tights paired with the really beautiful florals were an interesting juxtaposition which felt really authentic. A more focused vision could have made fewer looks, more iconic.” – Reva

“Richard Quinn conjured up a maximalist dream of tulle, feathers and diamonds, reminding us once again with his whimsical prints and couture shapes the sense of joyful escapism that fashion can provide in times of anxieties and uncertainties. He knows how to incite the spectacular in his shows like how they were in the past. It’s also interesting to note that he chose to show in Bethnal Green – the start and centre of London’s textile/fashion industry.” – Kelly

“It was like he was celebrating his 30th anniversary. What will next season be? The lifetime contribution to the fashion industry award? I didn’t find his show relevant at all, unless you’re 15 years old and fantasising about what it’s like to be a fashion designer in the nineties.” – Annabelle

What the public said…

“They’re very nice, but they wouldn’t be my choice. It might be my daughter’s choice. I don’t know what it is made of or anything. I’m very old-fashioned. Too frilly for me – too fussy.” – Chris

“It is so inspiring to see what a small team can produce in such a short time that almost reflects couture craftsmanship and elegance. Seeing everything come together from the clothes, the styling (by Katie Grand) the set and the orchestra was quite mind blowing.” – Zaynab

The pink feathers, that would be quite me.” – Clary

Christopher Kane
Curated by Sophie Wilson

What the press said…

“A reminder that fashion is supposed to be fun.” – Harriet Hall, The Independent (via Instagram stories)

“The collection is classic Kane, subtly sensual with a definite streak of the irreverent.” – Agatha Krasuski, L’Officiel

“His spring 2020 collection was filled with directional, statement pieces, from minidresses with daring cutouts to see-through silicone embellishments and frothy tulle trims — nothing for the shy or faint-hearted here.” – Natalie Theodosi, WWD

What the fashion students said…

“I think the ‘eco-sexual’ theme is classic Christopher, very tongue-in-cheek and I enjoyed it. The collection needed an edit, some of the looks didn’t add much to the story he was going for. I really liked the use of gels – even though he uses them often, it’s always in a clever way. Overall though, I think it’s still very impressive how many ideas he puts into each collection and mixes his previous signatures in without it feeling stale.” – Martin 

“I think the collection is intentionally disjointed to reflect the era of technology in a time of growing environmental awareness among society. I feel like he has taken the pastoral aesthetic and taken it into outer space.” – Micheál

“Kane makes florals seductive. The intergalactic romantic. And silicone sophisticated. He reminded us that kink can be found in nature and beyond.” – Sam

What the public said…

“I’m so confused. I don’t like it. The shoes look like those things you get if you break your ankle. Maybe I have an untrained eye, but it’s a bit extra for me.” – Emily

“Kinky Monet.” – Antonio

“I’m not a big fan of the really big shoulders and baggy arms – they feel quite masculine and I prefer a more delicate, feminine look.” – Verity

JW Anderson
Curated by Martin Onufrowicz

What the press said…

“Though more grounded in reality than previous seasons, the collection was as intriguing as ever, particularly the jewellery that was ornamented, cinched and wrapped around various blazers and dresses.  Simultaneously a marker of sensuality and armour, the crystal chains were wrapped around the bust but also became an embellishment on several skirts and blazers, their circular formation hinting at the cycle of fashion as a never-ending sequence.” – Mirabella Shahidullah, Glass Magazine

“She’s rich. She’s luxe. She’s in lamé and crystals. She’s doing the evening thing. People overuse the phrase “off-kilter elegance” but JW Anderson over the past two seasons seems to have found a sweet spot of moderating his kink to an elevated place.” – Susie Lau (@susiebubble)

“Once again Anderson delighted with the accessories, brown leather utilitarian vests were worn across the body with bottles attached which resembled dried gourds. Less successful, however, were the circular spangly crystal bras styled over dresses, which felt a little overdone, and extraneous to the clothes.” – Flora Macdonald Johnston, Financial Times

What the fashion students said…

“The collection feels rich and glamorous, yet wearable and easy at the same time. The styling is telling a story of pieces for the occasion, it’s almost as if these women are plucked from the restaurants and hotels lining the Côte d’Azur. At the same time, some of the individual pieces could be worn to the local Sunday Farmers’ Market (perhaps minus the chest and hip jewellery).” – Matthijs

“I love this JW show. As always, his girls were effortlessly elegant, but his intricate craftsmanship and emphasis on tradition was still present.” – Katie 

“I hate all the bust jewellery, but it’s easy enough to overlook. He must have gotten a new design director or just a clue in general because he’s cleaned up the collection and become a lot more focused over the last couple of seasons.” – Mutterlein

What the public said…

“I can’t help but like it overall. But it’s all kind of just Roman drapery and DIY boob-glasses which I’m not here for. It’s like a kinky toga party.” – Sopo

“The first one looks like a cow.” – Emma 

“I’m not vibing with the rope bras.” – Rudy 

Ports 1961
Curated by Zofia Zwieglinksa

What the press said…

“Where you’d normally expect a stylist to take a reductive approach, Templer pushed a distinctive maximalism from the first look. As the conversation around who creates fashion is expanding, an equally important one is happening around the depiction of who wears those clothes. With that in mind, it would have been nice to see a surprise beyond the straightforward model casting on the runway at Ports today.” – Chioma Nnadi, Vogue

“Templer undoubtedly assembled a collection signalling the brand’s new beginnings but, as always, the clothes were ready for the real world.” – Sarah Young and Harriet Hall, The Independent

“There was a Prada and Marni-ish mood here, what with all the bright, arty references and conceptual silhouettes. The looks got a little dizzying, with animal print mixes, stripes and layering sometimes reaching a fever pitch. But even the occasional stampede of zebra pattern, cowhide and black-and-white stripes couldn’t stop the brand’s new, high-energy vibes from radiating through the Tate.” – Samantha Conti, WWD

What the fashion students said…

“I think the red and pink is a bit overdone by now, but love how they combined the two materials/textures. So many stunning warm tones which I’m super happy about, but also a lot of beige which I am a massive fan of!” – Sabina

“I wasn’t the biggest fan of most prints. I thought the whole show was very Desigual meets Etro. That said, the Tate was an amazing venue, especially with the retro-like colour-blocked cubes. And I think the sort of inserted pleats were cool – reminded me of past seasons Sacai.” – Mona

“I like the surrealist look of this collection, but it needs an edit. The looks featuring clashing prints and colours command the most attention whereas some of the plainer looks fit awkwardly. Perhaps the bold prints just distract from that. It’s not a bad debut but I think that Karl Templer still needs to find his feet at the brand.” – Sophie

What the public said…

“The Ports1961 collection represents full equilibrium. Masculine yet feminine. Elegant yet practical. Traditional and unconventional. Bold and muted. My inner child and most sophisticated inner lady are both deeply satisfied.” – Yasmine

“I found the music quite hypnotic along with the consistent pace of the models, but I did end up zoning out half way through.” – Georgina 

“I like the mixture of the check and the print… it’s quite unusual! I like the way that they mix all of the prints together – it’s going to make you stand out!” – Chi Chi 

Simone Rocha
Curated by Ella Bardsley

What the press said…

“Nearly a decade after she started her brand, Rocha’s subversive vision of femininity could be wearing thin; after all, her clothes have been maintaining the same, distinct spirit for years now. Instead, the Simone Rocha cult is stronger than ever.” – Olivia Singer, Vogue 

“Inspired by Ireland’s wren boys, the exquisite pieces that made up the designer’s latest collection seem destined to become nothing less than heirlooms, worthy of new traditions to come.” – Dan Thawley, Business of Fashion

“You can always rely on Rocha to remain true to her creative vocabulary, irrespective of trends and this collection proved it.” – Sarah Young, The Independent 

What the fashion students said…

“I love the raffia macrame details on some of the looks and how it reappears in the hair of other models. The strong layering in the show also stood out to me.” – Cecily 

“I find it very impressive that, even though you can immediately tell it’s her collection, it never feels redundant. I especially like when she goes for the darker, moodier palette and contrasts it with the frills, rather than the soft pinks.” – Jacob

“Who wouldn’t want to stomp on those dusty floorboards in diamante thick-soled boots to the sounds of Riverdance? A reminder of the haunting beauty of Irish music. Sweet and yet rock and roll. Nature, craftsmanship and identity all in one!” – Zofia 

What the public said…

“I am so tired of ruffles.” – @NYC118 on Twitter

“From table cloths to funerals and bin bags, they really cover it all.” – Kyle 

“I never knew I needed Lesley Manville walking a runway but OMG!” – @taylorfanzel on Twitter

Curated by Mona Tehrani

What the press said…

“Here is a counterintuitive thought: Burberry becomes better when Riccardo Tisci lets himself put more of his own Italian self into it. His knowledge of the craft of cutting and draping, acquired in Paris at Givenchy, his European instinct for sophisticated sexiness and his affinity for modern fabrics are some of his natural strengths.” – Sarah Mower, Vogue Runway

“But these are not just ordinary bonnets – they’re Burberry bonnets. One part visor and one part baseball cap with a dash of The Handmaid’s Tale mixed in, the futuristic headpieces were worn with ruffled lace prairie dresses bearing Burberry patches and embroidery, heritage print silk shirts, oversized jersey tracksuits, and rugby-style tops alike. In fact, one even came with a crystal encrusted face mask, for those days when you just can’t face facing anyone. Mood, tbh.” – Emma Elizabeth Davidson, Dazed

“When Tisci took the reigns at Burberry in March 2018, he moved the brand away from the grown-up, bookish tendencies that had permeated under his predecessor Christopher Bailey, in favour of a more Instagram-friendly, streetwear-inflected vibe.” – Chloe Street, Evening Standard

What the fashion students said…

“Riccardo seems to be a little confused about Britishness, but then who can blame him? British people are confused too. Part Amelia Earhart, part Downton Abbey, and way too much beige. This collection just felt like it was trying to be everything at once, and as a result, it was nothing.” – Natalia

“I have to say that no collection needs to be 110 looks, especially when the first looks are so dull and conservative.” – Sophie

“It’s great that Tisci’s production this season is carbon neutral. And it’s great that he’s trying to reinterpret ‘Britishness’. But when you can’t see an ounce of Burberry’s classic heritage and Kendall Jenner’s hair is the main takeaway story – it doesn’t seem that great at all.” – Ella

What the public said…

“The boys’ belts look a bit like seatbelts.” – Charlotte

“Big compliment to the production team that supplied the event… the cross lighting for the catwalk seems phenomenally well planned and executed.” – Timothy

“Jisoo [from] Blackpink will be there can’t wait ” – @cimemoes on Instagram