The spirit of this ambition was felt through many of the collections. Diversity was the watchword at Marques’Almeida, Matty Bovan, Halpern, Fashion East and Chalayan as well — all of which were cast with new, more interesting faces. At Burberry, the outgoing chief creative officer and president Christopher Bailey dedicated his swansong show to three LGBTQ+ charities, and dressed the catwalk in a rainbow of clothes promoting diversity. Bailey spoke backstage of the responsibility he felt as the creative head of a “big organisation” to address broader social issues: “it’s important to show that we stand for something.”
His last collection, which featured hoodies, branded sweatshirts and rainbow puffa jackets, reflected the times in which we live. It also presented an interesting question: if the luxury world insists on looking to the street to define itself, what purpose does the catwalk now serve? Much of fashion is now about tone, or context. Rarely is it about dressmaking or the clothes themselves. Bailey didn’t have the answers. He described the industry as being in a state of “chaos”, where consumer habits, retail trends and cultural shifts are now impossible to predict. It was a bittersweet goodbye.
Meanwhile, at JW Anderson, designer Jonathan Anderson spoke of the need for a “clear-out”. He has just launched a competition that will award a photographer the chance to shoot his new campaign; he’s switched his schedule around to become more efficient, and his catwalk was full of ingenues. “I’ve been doing this for 10 years now and I want to re-look at the way we do fashion and make it work.”
Post #MeToo, post Time’s Up, post fur (the week was punctured by noisy demonstrations by protesters declaiming its continued use in fashion), designers must all decide what works for them — and what they stand for. Some simply make very pretty dresses, and good for them. Simone Rocha offered another meditation on crafty Victoriana, all dressed up in oversized tulle dresses, floral brocades, tartan skirts and Perspex heels. Roksanda Ilincic showed a customarily distinctive palette of muddy pastels — sand, damson, lemon, and forget-me-not blues — in a dance-inspired AW18 collection that gently swathed the body in soft quilting, blankets, camel-hair coats and ladylike silks.