London Fashion Week day one: the show goes on despite sombre mood

Four years after the late Queen Elizabeth II attended the event, the city's designers aim to honour her in style

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The first full day of London Fashion Week successfully navigated a seemingly impossible path; showcasing a crop of British talent as the nation mourns the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

London Fashion Week began with a string of tributes to the queen, from models holding pictures of her to others being dressed in all black. Some brands have pulled out while Monday's schedule has been altered — the UK marks a bank holiday on the day the monarch will be laid to rest following a state funeral.

However, for others, the show goes on; many welcomed it as a chance to showcase London's proud association with fashion, with the queen herself having been a surprise visitor at the event in 2018.

Bahrain's Noon by Noor opened Friday's schedule with a suitably elegant presentation. The label is from cousins Shaikha Noor Al Khalifa and Shaikha Haya Al Khalifa, who are known for their understated aesthetic and their outing reinforces that.

Showcased at a private house, Temperley's summer 2023 collection is filled with plenty of patterns and embroideries. Sarah Maisey / The National

Edward Crutchley followed, as he held his co-ed show three stories below street level, in a central London car park. Stripped of cars, the space felt a little bleak, but actually offered a perfect space for Crutchley to unveil a collection centred on the theme of a constantly changing sea.

Opening with a tiered dress made from metallic double faced jacquard, this same fabric appeared throughout the show. Clothes looked as if they floated, like ethereal jellyfish around the body, cinched with obi-style wraps, and balanced on precariously high, iridescent platform sandals.

There were multi-coloured knit dresses with cut-outs. And, as colours shifted from silvery to dark blue, it was strangely beautiful, with a quiet aura of romance.

A model walks in a gown made from metallic jacquard for the Edward Crutchley spring/summer 2023 show, which was held in an underground car park. AFP

One consequence — perhaps entirely intentional — of the venue, was that while providing a private space to show the collection, it also offered secrecy for the audience, who arrived in full regalia. One guest strolled past in Dr Martin boots and a Marie Antoinette wig, while another had pink glitter eyebrows and two long feathers, worn deely bopper style on a headband. Another wore sequin fishnet trousers, someone else a kilt, and everyone seemed to be carrying a fan.

Temperley London also chose to showcase its new wares in a hidden location.

In a private residence in West London, described as an "iceberg house" because most of it was underground, the new collection was split into two parts. The spring collection, set for a November launch, was filled with party season shimmer, courtesy of golden sequins, as the three-piece suit introduced last season was here again, now in a luscious raspberry velvet.

The second half was for summer 2023, filled with plenty of Temperely's eye-catching patterns and embroideries. A loose linen safari jacket arrived in a lovely mustard print, with matching paper bag shorts, while a dotted pattern across dresses turned out to be cowrie shells. Elsewhere, a slip dress and matching jacket arrived with heavy mustard embroidery as tea dresses in pinks and blues were lavished in signature embroidery.

A recent introduction is the Heritage range, made from bestsellers now with a permanent collection all of their own. Filled with the top pieces from the brand's 20-year history, it is a shift towards a more mindful approach, giving longevity to pieces that take hours to create.

Bora Aksu delivered a military-inspired show for spring/summer 2023. Photo: Gorunway

At Boru Aksu, there was a minute's silence to honour the queen, ahead of what turned out to be a lightly military themed collection. Opening with a drummer, it was followed by a look finished with a row of medals and a tailored, double-breasted trouser suit, before softening into something more feminine and frothy.

Dresses came adorned with polka dots, ruffles and asymmetric drapery, as full skirts spilled out from under tailored jackets, and scalloped hemlines.

Aksu created most of the collection from deadstock, some of which is decades old, neatly bringing the past into the present day.

With that in mind, it is a fitting way to mark a new era for Britain and its unwavering adoration for fashion. And, the queen.

Updated: September 17, 2022, 1:46 PM
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