After a two season hiatus, Richard Quinn came back yesterday, and pulled off a mega-production collection, with a sort of badass Cruella energy. The autumn-winter 2021 line-up was released through a 25 minute long video fairy-tale, “an ode to Hollywood Technicolour”, full of haute fetish couture. “It’s bigger, a lot bigger than anything we’ve done before. I wanted to do something that was really creative, that was not a catwalk show, the usual“, the designer explained in the press notes. Latex gimp-suited cats and dogs, ballerinas and ballgowns, a story that spiralled from a red-light, nightlife London Soho-on-steroids scene through manic Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella-ish twists and turns – it had it all. All it took was a hundred people on a movie set – sets which were entirely printed by Quinn, including a blue-and-white flower-printed grand piano and three London black cabs printed with psychedelic ’70s daisies. The Lilies Cole and McMenamy and U.K. Drag Race’s favorite star Bimini Bon-Boulash made cameo appearances. “Because I wanted it to be a showcase of what we can do in London, even in a pandemic,” he said. The clothes? Well, the clothes appeared to be costumes, really, all the recognizable, blown-up Richard Quinn vintage haute couture pastiche shapes “with everything crafted to within an inch of its life,” as he put it. There were embroideries laden with pearls, bugle beads, sequins, and gemstones. A mini bride’s dress and matching groom’s bell-bottomed suit were sewn with gold crucifixes, padded love hearts, and tiny turtledoves. And on top of all that, he showed acres of printed pouf dresses, a whole wedding-turned-disco party packed with guys dancing in flowery suits among ball-gowned women. Quinn dreams big.
“I want it to be London-centric, but looking out towards the world,” Richard Quinn declared after his autumn-winter 2020 show. The set – a house facade with his name above the door – was right there. And then the doors opened and the inhabitants, smothered head to foot in crystal and pearl from gimp masks to shoes, began to walk out. The first two were a bedazzling haute-couture beaded sublimation of a London king and queen. GOD SAVE THE QUIN was embroidered amongst their insanely armored finery. Yes, Quinn debuted menswear. That was a surprise. “If we’re building a house, we need men and women in it,” said Quinn. “I’m imagining a house with rooms that have all these different people living in these interiors, whether they’re the harsh, dark and sexy S&M ones, or the more romantic ones.” The idea – and a very Yves-Saint-Laurent-meets-Christian-Lacroix execution – feels appealing. But I just can’t get why Quinn, whose label is so young, does nearly the same thing over and over again. I understand that he wants to establish the brand’s codes, but isn’t it too early to be so retrospective? The dresses come in identical silhouettes every season, while his prints – which are also his house-made signature! – always end on big florals. He’s a big talent, but I really want to see his creativity go elsewhere from time to time.
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?
Since the Queen herself took a seat front row at Richard Quinn’s show exactly a year ago, the designer’s show is a must-see show in London, that’s for sure. While the majority of the looks were all about Quinn’s signature, bold floral prints, the first looks were coats in tartan plaid and houndstooth – nothing more British than that. But then, when you go through the next looks, you might realise they don’t differ strongly from this what we’ve seen in the last seasons from Richard. What seemed to be a novelty was black latex, used for long gloves and tights that peaked from underneath the over-sized ball dresses and equally voluminous lady-like coats. I thought it looked restricting and uncomfortable on the models, through. Couture touches are Quinn’s specialty: black tulle went with gorgeously embroidered dresses and the feathered ‘hoods’ that closed the show were the ultimate highlights. Still, hope to see the designer slightly change his repertoire next season, as he gets repetitive.