The 2010s / Simone Rocha AW19

Believe it or not – I can’t! – but we’re heading towards a new millenium. So, how do you choose the most important collections, designers and labels of the decade? The ones that made an actual impact in the 2010s? Well, it’s not an easy task. It all began in September 2009 with New York’s spring-summer 2010 shows and ended when the autumn-winter 2019 haute couture shows wrapped in Paris. Few thousands of shows, by the way. There will be 19 posts (that’s really the only possible minimum!) reminding about the best – and if not the best, then strongly influencing – moments in fashion.

Simone Rocha‘s woman-for-women AW19 collection.

Talented women with their distinct style rule in London. There’s Molly Goddard, Victoria Beckham, Mary Katrantzou, Roksanda Ilincic, Surpiya Lele. And there’s Simone Rocha, whose autumn-winter 2019 was one of the very best collections I’ve seen that season. Rocha designs for women – and women love her. Seeing her runway graced by women of different ages, colour and body types was a female power moment, yes, but also an ode to the brand’s clients who trust Simone every season. Chloë Sevigny, Tess McMillan, Kristen Owen, Lily Cole, Sara Grace Wallerstedt, Ugbad Abdi… whether models or not, runway veterans or bold newcomers, all those faces are amazing individuals and characters. And, also, it’s an ultimate proof that full-skirted dresses and coats aren’t only meant for 20-somethings, just like organza see-throughs, bras worn over trench coats and opulent headbands. The collection was a study of female eroticism, a debate between being the object of desire and owning it. As the designer put it in her own words, “it was a about intimacy and privacy, security and insecurity”. Rocha looked at Michael Powell’s disturbing films (like ‘Peeping Tom’, the voyeuristic horror), but also returned to her long-time inspiration – Louise Bourgeois. The artist investigates the subject of sex and tenderness in her works, which as well often takes a darker turn. “I found her series of weavings which she’d made with fabric from her own clothes particularly beautiful,” Simone said. The spiderweb embroideries and prints Rocha used for puffball coats and dresses were made in collaboration with the Louise Bourgeois Foundation – could you wish for a more heartwarming artist appreciation moment? Still, while the themes behind the collection might be not exactly joyous and lightweight, the models – we see you, Chloë – were all smiley and visibly proud to be walking that outstanding show. This line-up could not end up in my 2010s favourites!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki. Chloë Sevigny wearing Simone Rocha AW19, photographed by Harley Weir and styled by Robbie Spencer for Dazed & Confused.

Cool Folk. Chopova Lowena SS20

Chopova Lowena is currently one of the most fascinating, emerging labels from London. Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena‘s Central Saint Martins MA graduate collection began with them looking at Bulgaria’s mountain dwellers, particularly the women, and the way they dressed. There, they found all the contrasting elements they felt so intrigued with, like intricate handmade folk costumes worn with secondhand western sneakers and sunglasses. Chopova Lowena is beloved for its juxtapositions, subtly combining modernity and nostalgia, luxury and kitsch, craftsmanship and humour. The same spirit of new and old, rare and mainstream, is reflected in their spring-summer 2020 lookbook. Skin-tight layers of tartan-checks printed mesh are paired with their signature Bulgarian pleats in wool and nylon (they sell out super fast and you’ve surely seen them gracing street style slideshows this fashion month). Big, punk-ish belts double as mini-skirts underneath delicate harnesses made from metal hardware. The folky, peasant dresses and blouses with theatrical sleeves are another highlights. Chopova Lowena has an anthropological approach to design, observing traditional customs and revisiting them through a contemporary lens – often through collaborating with craftsmen in small Eastern European and English communities.

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.