Best of London Fashion Week part 1: From Molly Goddard to Matty Bovan
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Saturday closed with a lovely show from Rejina Pyo. Staged in a library, it was full of designs that were both ultra-wearable and interesting enough to covet. Pyo said backstage that she wants to design clothes that become an integral part of all types of women’s lives, rather than a fantasy. Easy tailoring, in this unisex collection, took the form of blouses with puff sleeves, sleek pencil dresses, oversized jackets and neat trousers. Highlights included an apple green, silk pencil dress with button front and puff sleeves, and a neutral-coloured shorts suit with mismatched, handcrafted buttons.
Structured handbags and strappy sandals lent an air of polish to rustic fabrics such as linen. Despite being a young brand, Regina Pyo has hit the ground running with her accessories which have an arty, sculptural quality. The show was inspired by the 94 year-old artist and writer Etel Adnan and her sense of Carpe Diem, and it had a joyful, positive spirit. We’ll all be wearing it next summer.
House of Holland
Holland chose a dramatic outdoor venue in King's Cross, with a circular catwalk around a space-age silver sphere. The clothes were equally out there, Holland was inspired by the 1970s disco movement, and rave culture of the 1990s and much of the collection combined technical sportswear with tailored blazers and matching silk shirts.
There was also a pretty acid colour and pattern palette, even by Holland’s statement standards: think lime green and bright purple, candy floss pink, and leopard print. Holland is a canny collaborator, and this season he had worked with Klarna, the patent system company, among others. If you want to know where his millennial fan base lies you only need to look at the front row where Daisy Lowe and Ru Paul Season 10 Drag Race winner Aquaria were perched.
Michael Halpern’s show offered a desirable dose of megawatt disco glamour: it would be hard to find a designer who likes shiny as much as this guy does. His 70s inflected evening wear ranged from sleek trouser suits and flares covered in crystals and sequins, to draped evening gowns, to giant puffed, draped and ruched dresses.
Barbra Streisand in ‘Funny Girl’ (Halpern’s favourite film) was the starting point for this SS20 collection. “It started with how Barbra looked in that film versus how she dressed in the 70s,” he explained. Halpern worked with prints and florals from the Ziegfeld Follies theatre in New York, which appeared on a shimmering floor-length dark pink gown and mini-dress. “I was also interested in operatic draping, so that’s where a lot of the shapes came from,” he added backstage.
Surprisingly, Halpern considered his show demure: “We love loud, and colour is important to me, but it was a nice time this season to take it back and play with silhouette without having to be so bustier focused, so huge-flare focused. It was nice to focus on fabrication.”
It was a case of go big or go home at the Molly Goddard show, where the British designer riffed once again on the idea of volume. A giant butter-yellow tulle dress delivered signature Molly party prettiness, as did a turquoise tulle skirt that resembled a supersized tutu.
However, there was also a more pared-down element to dresses in crisp cotton poplin, which suggested modern milkmaids. A particularly chic example was the black summer dress with spaghetti straps and a ruched, gathered skirt. Other dresses with ruching and miniature ruffles came in bright pink, lime green and a spriggy floral print which recalled country house wallpaper.
Goddard designed her first bags, boho leather studded holdalls and across-shoulder pouches. The footwear too had a folksy touch, flat peasant boots came in red and blue, while easy to wear open-toed sandals had ankle straps.
Overall there was a more grown-up, elegant dimension to this excellent collection, which still retained the designer’s flair for playful clothes. Anyone who doesn’t do giant ballet skirts would find the loose ecru cardigans with black ties worn over skirts an easy way to do the Molly look.
A new direction for Bovan? His first five looks felt incredibly commercial and a far cry from his usual folksy, weird and wonderful designs. There was a beige and yellow zip-up jacket combined with leather trousers and white-knee high boots, a fire-engine red bomber jacket and leggings with corset detailing down their front.
However, in classic Bovan style that was not to last and he gave his audience a surprise. Halfway through the hybrid garments emerged — floral prints inspired by William Morris appeared on dresses but had jutting pillow-like growths protruding from hips, placed upon the body or in one case encasing a model’s head. There were spliced up hospital gowns in minty greens and pastel pinks and Victoriana jackets with puffed sleeves.
Perhaps the biggest wow were the sci-fi visors designed by Stephen Jones, made to look like iPads worn across the face. “It’s funny because we never really think about what our face looks like through a screen,” said Bovan backstage after the show, “we are always looking at it, but I wanted to reverse this, what does the screen see of us?”
Grace Wales Bonner
“I wanted to remember and create a collection based entirely on memory, I’ve never done that before,” said Grace Wales Bonner of her Cuba-inspired collection. Having travelled there nearly five years ago, the designer was particularly inspired by the vibrant and joyous culture — and of course — the clothes.
“All the men looked so sharp in their 1940s style suits. I wanted to translate that but in my own way.” And there were plenty of offerings, which were all rather delicious. Sharp blazers with exaggerated lapels and slim waists were combined with long fitted trousers in shades of rich tobacco, sand and dazzling white. Playful and “naive floral prints” were translated onto Cuban silk shirts and hand painted onto a jacket and white-silk tie.
After her successful womenswear collaboration with Dior (a first for the British designer), Wales Bonner continued exploring this new territory. Cropped nautical jackets with nipped-in waists and red knitted tops looked cohesive against the menswear.
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