Cecil Beaton. Erdem AW20

Erdem’s autumn-winter 2020 collection brought old-school glamour fit for a modern-day dame. Learning that “Beaton, Bright Young Things” – a show of Cecil Beaton’s twenties and thirties portraits of dazzlingly glamorous socialites – is opening at the National Portrait Gallery (co-incidentally the label’s frequent show venue) in March meant that Erdem Moralioglu’s inspiration was right there. Some of his takings from Beaton were literal. Look one – a black slicker mackintosh – was directly in honor of a photo of the aesthete Stephen Tennant. And then there was a direct replication of the pearl-festooned flapper dress, look 30, “in which Beaton photographed himself,” said Moralioglu. Tissue lamé and silvery lace dresses ensued. There were also black and white checkerboard prints inspired by Beaton’s early backdrops; echoes of the celluloid frills and fancy-dress rose-strewn brocades; and a nod to the Pierrot pajama suit that was one of the photographer’s role-playing costumes. But if not knowing any of this, you can as well place this collection on the list of season’s best eveningwear. The lime-green, silk dress with subtle floral embroideries worn by Grace Bol is my ultimate favourite.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Gentle Rebellion. Victoria Beckham AW20

As Victoria Beckham put in her own words, “the collection is about staying true to ourselves and our woman, but still surprising her, and us. Twisting our codes. This what I call my gentle rebellion.” Beckham has developed a knack for putting her practical-chic advisory into action. For autumn-winter 2020, check the way that she paired English tweed crombie-style overcoats, worn open over tonally matching skirts or culottes. A new kind of suit this is – easy and confident. That’s the kind of thought-out problem-solving attitude women love to see on the runways. Beckham has reached the stage in her work where she doesn’t attempt to shift the design needle so much as point it in a useful, wearable direction. Her collection read as a checklist of the season’s trends: the return of black, dress silhouettes with skin-baring necklines, so-odd-it’s-cool colour contrasts. Beckham’s intention isn’t to be ground-breaking. But do great clothes for everyday life.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

What The Water Gave Me. Simone Rocha AW20

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There was something beautifully sacred and mystical about Simone Rocha’s autumn-winter 2020 collection. Ribbons and ties, fisherman’s nets, white lace and baptism-like cotton cloths, pearl details from head to toes… and of course the Aran knits. “Procession, baptism; birth, life, and loss,” began Simone Rocha. “It’s about the Aran Islands, the life there, and J.M. Synge’s play about it, ‘Riders to the Sea’.” The cream wool Aran pattern is the centerpiece of Rocha’s collection – the Irish stitch is world-famous, even though if originates from a tiny sprinkle of islands off Connemara on the country’s west coast. “It’s the color of the unbleached wool from the sheep there,” Rocha explained. An what about the slightly nautical feeling? In the past, people on the remote islands lived only on sheep and the proceeds of battling with the sea – Synge’s drama is about the tragedy and the resilience of a woman who has lost her husband and sons to drowning. Rocha is never afraid of the less optymistic themes for her shows. But somehow, they never appear heavy or dull. After the virgin-white looks, something darker began to flow in. Women in mourning, church rituals, priests, legends, and the Virgin Mary all became wound into this one. Rocha never had a religious upbringing from her parents at home in Dublin, “so I never made my first Communion, so I never got to dress up in the white frocks, though all the girls around me at school did. Maybe that’s why I’m obsessed, making up for it,” she said with a laugh. “Of course, you can’t look at Ireland and not be influenced a little bit by Catholicism.” As always with Rocha, I’m completely in love.