London Fashion Week S/S 2016

This season feels like it’s ‘all change.’ Not just because London Fashion Week has a new home in Brewer Street Carpark, but because every designer’s inspiration list was as disparate as the collections themselves

Feature by Emma Segal | 07 Oct 2015

This era of change isn’t necessarily a bad thing (in fact, it kept things extremely interesting), but it does mean that when trends emerged, they stood out more. Here are a few things we’re excited about for next season...

In terms of influences and cues, there is usually one decade or reference point that stands out across the collections. At presentations like Le Kilt (where the entire collection was a 90s ode to Shirley Manson) this remained the case. However, while the remnants of the 70s were found reinterpreted in Holly Fulton’s beautifully mature collection, it wasn’t as strong a feature as it was in the A/W shows.

In fact, several designers adopted a real multi-decade approach. Topshop was by far the best example, with Kate Phelan describing the collection as a playful mix of heirloom pieces from different eras. Think layering pieces you’ve stolen from your great grandmother's, grandmother's and mother’s wardrobes.

Asian Influences

The contrasting reference points continued when it came to taking inspiration from places. Although there were nods to countries all around the world, the fascination with Asia still dominated. This was most obvious in collections like that of Jonathan Saunders, who layered exquisite kimono jackets over Paisley and African prints. It was a beautiful offering and a sign of exciting new things to come for the Glaswegian designer.

Asian influences could also be found in Steven Tai, the subtle pleating of Georgia Hardinge and David Koma, to name a few. Even Zandra Rhodes took her inspiration from Malaysian horticulture!

In terms of structure, we ask you to prepare yourself for the... ‘off-centre mullet,’ in the form of subtle hem gathers and splits at Eudon Choi and J. JS Lee (NB the latter gets a special mention for making candy stripes enter the super-luxe territory). Striking panel shirts at PPQ and flowing dresses at Jean Pierre Braganza were given a modern edge using a combination of this technique, with the addition of sheer panels.

And before you gasp in horror, we too remember the awful mullet dress trend, but trust us when we say that this is a surprisingly modern way to wear layers and that you’ll be a convert come summer. Equally important for summer are the deconstructed and reconstructed looks found at Christopher Kane, Preen, Versus and MM6 – these looks are an outward ode to the garment construction process and feel really fresh.

Texturally, things got interesting this season. J.W. Anderson showcased voluminous, New Romantic/Hammertime sleeves with white overstitching. A subtle version of this could also be seen at Emilia Wickstead; accompanied by drop shoulders, her voluminous sleeves were infinitely wearable and architectural in feel.

Romantic macramé was also a key feature, showcased in two jaw-droppingly beautiful collections by Simone Rocha and Bora Aksu. Finally, fringing graduated from accessories and hemlines to the main event, as Phoebe English and Julien Macdonald demonstrated. Here, special note must be given to Christopher Kane’s collection for the masterful use of fringing. We’ve never been happier to see tassels swishing everywhere!

Nature and Floral Prints

One thing is for certain. Across the board, designers were feeling incredibly romantic and inspired by nature. Rising star Ryan Lo had us feeling all lovey-dovey, Molly Goddard’s chiffon-laden, sandwich-making models (yes, really) were the talk of the town, and Mother of Pearl brought the Victorian ruffle collar into the 21st century, pairing it with structured knits.

Elsewhere, ruffles and floral prints featured at Paul Costelloe and PPQ. The best floral look this season? A beautiful, De La Renta-worthy Emilia Wickstead dress, which we’ll no doubt be seeing on a red carpet very soon. These looks are equal parts girly and mature, so for a more urban nod to nature and romance, Henry Holland’s urban-safari looks come recommended (although we accept no liability if you choose to wear bold, clashing patterns on a real-life safari).

Finally (because this reporter has a soft spot for it), the most ‘London’ of all trends, humour, was definitely injected into the SS16 collections. The use of cartoons and playful prints couldn’t help but get us excited.

Fyodor Golan were the absolute master this season, mixing side-mullet skirts with printed flowers on Perspex with… and here comes the fun part… Transformers. Perfect for those wanting to have their romanticism with a side of Optimus Prime(!) Like the Coca Cola-Ashish link up or Moschino’s Barbie collection, it proves some brand-designer partnerships are meant to be (although we’re not as convinced by KFC and Katie Eary).

MM6 is seriously making us consider upcycling bin liners so we can go clubbing with the cool kids. Ashley Williams’ cartoon face jumpers showed you can inject a serious collection with humour and still be taken seriously. Markus Lupfer mixed Mexican luchador prints with sequins and star-shaped sunglasses, and the collection of one student at the Swedish School of Textiles was a sequined emoji-fest. Insert smiley face here.

All in all, a complete mash-up of influences and trends to keep us on our toes and get us excited for S/S16. But isn’t that why we always love London Fashion Week?