London Fashion Week September 2023: Highlights, Trends, and Heartfelt Tributes

London Fashion Week 2023 - Simone Rocha

London Fashion Week 2023 - Simone Rocha runway

London Fashion Week (LFW) September 2023 was a spectacular showcase of talent, creativity and innovation, as the event returned to a digital-physical hybrid format. From Friday 15th to Tuesday 19th September, LFW featured both menswear and womenswear designers, with a diverse and exciting line-up of established and emerging names. Here are some of the highlights of the five-day fashion extravaganza.

Burberry's Bold Revamp: Among the week's most eagerly awaited showcases was Burberry's debut under the new creative stewardship of Daniel Lee, formerly of Bottega Veneta. Lee unveiled a collection that paid homage to Burberry's British heritage, imbued with a punky spirit and an inviting coziness. The runway displayed oversized outerwear, quilted jackets, chunky knits, and whimsical accessories in earthy hues and vibrant splashes of color. Playful touches, including a crocheted duck trapper hat and a logo-adorned miniskirt, added to the charm. The star-studded front row at Kennington Park featured luminaries like Naomi Campbell, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Jodie Comer.

Mowalola's Flag Fiasco: Nigerian-born designer Mowalola Ogunlesi ignited controversy with a collection featuring miniskirts adorned with various national flags, including Saudi Arabia's flag bearing the Islamic creed. This choice was deemed disrespectful and offensive, given the sacred nature of the flag. Initially dismissive, Ogunlesi later expressed remorse, acknowledging her ignorance and the hurt caused, and thanked those who held her accountable.<

Skepta's Stylish Return: Rapper Skepta re-entered the fashion scene with his second collection for Mains, marking the end of a four-year hiatus. The collection seamlessly blended elevated sportswear and refined tailoring, featuring tracksuits, hoodies, shirts, trousers, coats, and hats in understated tones and subtle patterns. The Royal Albert Hall served as the venue, drawing an illustrious guest list, including Naomi Campbell, Stormzy, Louis Theroux, and Lil Simz. The highlight was a live performance by Alicia Keys, who enchanted the audience with her hits and a mesmerizing rendition of the Beatles' "Come Together."

Balmain's Stolen Show: In a shocking turn of events, over 50 pieces from Balmain's Paris Fashion Week collection were stolen while en route from Italy to France. Creative director Olivier Rousteing expressed devastation but remained determined to deliver a remarkable show. He extended gratitude to his team and supporters for their unwavering solidarity and love.

Simone Rocha's Couture Collaboration: Irish designer Simone Rocha was revealed as the next guest designer for Jean Paul Gaultier's couture line, set to unveil her collection in January 2024 in Paris. Rocha expressed profound honor and excitement to collaborate with the iconic Gaultier, vowing to explore his archives and enduring legacy.

Swarovski's Innovation Showcase: Swarovski unveiled its captivating exhibition at the Design Museum in London, celebrating 125 years of crystal innovation and creativity. The exhibition showcases over 500 objects highlighting Swarovski's collaborations with luminaries from various fields and eras. Notable pieces include an Alexander McQueen crystal-encrusted dress, a Zaha Hadid chandelier, a Shaun Leane tiara, a Yayoi Kusama sculpture, and an Andy Warhol portrait.

RIMOWA and Tiffany & Co.'s Fusion: Luxury luggage brand RIMOWA joined forces with jewelry giant Tiffany & Co. for an exclusive collaboration, merging their signature aesthetics. The collaboration features RIMOWA's classic aluminum suitcases in Tiffany Blue® with silver accents, complete with matching leather luggage tags and stickers adorned with Tiffany & Co.'s motifs. These exclusive items are available at select RIMOWA and Tiffany & Co. stores worldwide.

The Reign of Blue: The week witnessed the prominence of blue as a dominant trend, manifesting in various shades and styles across multiple shows. Designers showcased azure to navy, denim to silk, and casual to formal wear, all in shades of blue. Standout examples include Roksanda's celestial gowns, Tolu Coker's striking shirts, Ahluwalia's hazy tracksuits, Labrum's woven waistcoats, Burberry's chiffon jackets, and Standing Ground's elegant dresses.

The Liquid Dress Sensation: Another trend that emerged was the liquid dress, a form-fitting garment that seemed to cascade effortlessly over the body. Crafted from sumptuous silks and jersey fabrics, these dresses exuded grace and fluidity. Designers like Roksanda, Tove, JW Anderson, and Di Petsa embraced this trend, offering a range of colors and lengths from metallics to pastels and minis to maxis

The Timeless White Shirt: The white shirt proved its timeless and versatile appeal, finding its place in various forms and occasions. From crisp and neatly pressed to crumpled and embellished versions, the white shirt was paired with skirts, trousers, shorts, or worn alone. Designers such as Arlington, Phoebe English, Richard Quinn, Chopova Lowena, and Eudon Choi reinvented this classic staple, reaffirming its enduring fashion relevance.

Tributes to the late Queen Elizabeth II

The passing of Queen Elizabeth II on August 31, 2023, shook the world and left a void in the hearts of many. Her influence and legacy were felt throughout the LFW. Many designers, models, and celebrities paid tribute to the Queen in various ways, honoring her memory and celebrating her life.

One of the most touching tributes came from Simone Rocha, who dedicated her spring/summer 2023 collection to the Queen. The Irish designer, who is known for her romantic and feminine aesthetic, said that she was inspired by the Queen’s wardrobe and personality. She said that she wanted to capture the “strength, dignity, grace, and humor” of the Queen, as well as her “love of flowers, horses, and dogs”. The collection featured floral prints, lace details, pearl embellishments, and tartan patterns, all of which were references to the Queen’s style. The models also wore brooches and tiaras that resembled the Queen’s jewelry. Rocha said that she hoped that the collection would “bring some joy and beauty” in these difficult times.

Another designer who paid homage to the Queen was Christopher Kane, who presented his collection at Westminster Abbey, where the Queen was crowned in 1953. The Scottish designer said that he wanted to celebrate the Queen’s “incredible life and achievements” and to show his respect and admiration for her. He said that he was influenced by the Queen’s “sense of duty, service, and elegance”. The collection featured sharp tailoring, vibrant colors, and metallic accents, all of which reflected the Queen’s modern and sophisticated image. The models also wore badges that read “God Save the Queen” and “Long Live the Queen”, expressing their loyalty and gratitude. Fashion East, the non-profit initiative that supports emerging designers, also honored the Queen in its show.

The show featured four designers: Nensi Dojaka, Jawara Alleyne, Goom Heo, and HRH. Each designer showcased their unique vision and creativity, while also incorporating elements that were inspired by the Queen. For instance, Nensi Dojaka used sheer fabrics and delicate draping to create sensual and feminine silhouettes that contrasted with the Queen’s modesty. Jawara Alleyne mixed traditional British fabrics such as tweed and wool with Caribbean influences such as ruffles and feathers to create a fusion of cultures that reflected the Queen’s role as the head of the Commonwealth. Goom Heo used oversized shapes and graphic prints to create a futuristic and edgy look that challenged the Queen’s conservatism. HRH, which stands for Her Royal Highness, used recycled materials and handcrafted techniques to create sustainable and ethical garments that honored the Queen’s environmentalism.

The tributes to the Queen were not limited to the runway shows. Many celebrities and royals who attended the London Fashion Week also showed their respect and admiration for the Queen in their outfits. For example, Kate Winslet wore a blue dress with white polka dots that resembled one of the Queen’s signature looks. Sienna Miller wore a red coat with a black hat that echoed the Queen’s outfit at her coronation. Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie wore floral dresses with pearl necklaces that matched the Queen’s style. The tributes to the Queen were heartfelt and sincere and creative, reflecting her impact and influence on fashion and culture. The Queen may be gone, but her spirit lives on in the hearts of many.