Men’s – Lovers Rock. Wales Bonner AW20

For her autumn-winter 2020 show in London, Grace Wales Bonner had friends and audience members sitting at tables around a dance floor, joining her celebration of Lovers Rock, the specifically British Afro-Caribbean music scene sprung from underground London house parties in the ’70s. “Lovers Rock was created by second generation Jamaicans in this country, their own kind of sweet mix of reggae and soul,” the designer explained. “It’s a reflection of my family on my father’s side. My grandad came from Jamaica in the 1950s. My dad used to work on Lewisham Road, and I found these documentary photographs by John Goto of teenagers at Lewisham Youth Club in the ’70s.” What fascinated and touched Wales Bonner was how kids of her dad’s generation wore clothes which referenced Jamaican style and Rasta flag colors, woven into a “a fun mix-up” of standard English smartness, “irreverent, but always elegant.” There was a denim tailored coat lined with velvet; a women’s look featuring  a corduroy patchwork matching shirt and skirt color-blocked in red, yellow, green, and black; slim-fit ’70s track pants; and “the kind of Adidas trainers Bob Marley would have worn.” The full repertoire of Wales Bonner’s refined tailoring was on display as well: tweedy suits, separates and coats, worn over body-hugging sweaters and roll-necks, with a stronger representation of womenswear in combinations of blazers and full pleated skirts. The self-knowledge Wales Bonner has gained over the years means she knows who she is and what her brand stands for by now. “It’s coming up for five years,” she summed up to the press. “I’m looking back and consolidating. For me, my approach is elegant, designed, and crafty—about what’s the perfect suit? Now I want to build the business.”

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Ritual. Charles Jeffrey Loverboy AW20

While men’s London fashion week seems to get gradually less and less popular, there are still some labels that shine some hope for the once prospering event. “It was a modern-day Scottish sacrifice,” said Charles Jeffrey backstage of his Loverboy show for autumn-winter 2020 season. There was an installation of a hollowed-out tree hung with CDs and topped by a disco ball silhouetted against the dark on a platform at the end of his runway – a place for the ritual propitiation of the ancient, abused forces of nature. So it seemed, as his characters came and went, some dressed in costumes hung with horse brasses and sporting huge equine quiffs, others in Loverboy tartans, and still more in pannier dresses. Another sect looked like a cult of eco-paganists clinging together in their own dance of lament. But other than theatrics, this line-up was the most accomplished collection from the designer yet, clothes-wise. Jeffrey has traversed that stage of his career where he has presented symbolic statements and reached a point where his tailoring fits impressively (and sexily). His waisted, puff-shouldered jackets, flared asymmetric suits and tartan trousers beat with London’s old school spirit. Fantastic dresses (genderless!) and great coats. Even the “commercial” part of the collection – bold Loverboy merch – feels right.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Spectacle. Richard Quinn SS20

Richard Quinn‘s spring-summer 2020 collection was LFW’s theatrical finale that consisted of extremely dramatic gowns, Erin O’Connor’s appearance, and even more of signature floral prints the designer is so loved for. Quinn’s show also featured a gaggle of schoolgirls adorned in fantastical white feathers. The baby-birds walked the runway alongside a matching bridal look (Richard’s new venture) at the show’s close. The designer’s aim was for the show to be “a fashion sanctuary, where we can all come and celebrate”. While majority of the looks felt like a grand déjà vu of his previous collections, the entire spectacle was impressive. But then, do we need constant newness from designers like Quinn, who already have their well-established style and continue to thrive?

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Eco-Sexual. Christopher Kane SS20

Leave it to Christopher Kane to talk about sex in fashion. After his memorable The Joy of Sex collection, there are certainly no more tabu subjects for the designer. His spring-summer 2020 collection, entitled Eco-Sexual, was another chapter of his sex-in-fashion journey. “It’s about people who love nature,” Kane said backstage. “Making love in nature. Being in touch with the earth. Sleeping with the stars! We’ve had a lot of fun coming up with words for it in the studio.” The first looks were all about the print, which was actually a photograph he and his team took this summer in a local park. Florals for spring? Ground-breaking. But no, this wasn’t just about flowers. The next looks refered to Christopher’s past collections: 2011’s neon lace, neo-corsetry from his debut collection in 2007 and plastic, fluid-filled patches that appeared many times throughout his line-ups. All that adds up and creates a distinct Christopher Kane look. There were also outer-space prints on sweatshirts, statuesque gowns with galactic views all over them and lunar landscapes in infrared. This surely is one of the best collections from London fashion week. Just one think I would love the label to consider: it’s great we’re talking about sex, but if we also mention eco, it would be more than welcome to see some specific, sustainability-forward steps Kane’s brand can take. A good idea to consider for the next season.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Odd Elegance. JW Anderson SS20

For the second season now, Jonathan Anderson seems to be experimenting with odd elegance at his name-sake label. There’s something both ritualistic and futuristic about his draped tunics with jewelled bras tied on with rope straps, and chunky, crystal studded belts worn to one side of the hip. Who is this woman? Where is she heading to? There’s something unexplainably refined about her, and definitely elusive. Tailored jackets and coats with contrasting lapels where also embellished with rhinestones, in circular patterns, while the mainly earthy colour palette was contrasted with the least expected detail: silver and gold lamé. Non-chalance is the new norm for spring-summer 2020, that’s visible across countless of shows we’ve seen up to date. The fringed, knitted and highly crafted elements felt Loewe-ish, which is actually new to J.W. Anderson (the designer never mixes his codes between the two brands he designs at). Still, they work in this collection very well, even though they might not match at a first glance.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.