LFW: Roksanda, Erdem, Paul & Joe and Preen
A season of empowerment on Monday, with shows by distinctive non-British designers: active professional élan at Roksanda; modernist cabaret femme fatales at Erdem and suffragette revival chic from France’s Paul & Joe.
Roksanda: From Rothschild to Fila
A triumphant start to Monday by Roksanda, who combined graphic references to Irish artist Eva Rothschild with a brilliant collaboration with sportswear giant Fila into a great show.
Hard to recall a more exciting partnership of high fashion and active sports-style than Roksanda’s brilliant voluminous puffer coats and blankets; techy dresses and fantastic moon-boots. Definitely the must-have items for next winter’s après ski cocktails and soirées.
“Sports is so present today, all around us. So I wanted to combine that with elements of couture to reflect what I am about,” the designer explained post-show.
Presented inside the main hall of Tate Britain, which featured several large frame sculptures by Rothschild; their colors echoed in several looks within this fall/winter 2022/23 collection. In particular, one fabulous graphic patchwork, multi-hued gown that had a real wow factor.
Roksanda also extended her range with some classy overalls; multi-stripe at multi-angles jackets; magnificent gents’ coats with quilted in-lays; and black satin gowns with golden metallic bar inserts. Most everything was great in this performance, including the Dear Frances two-tone, patent leather boots.
One needs to be a tall lady to carry off Roksanda’s volume, but if you have the self-confidence then this style is tremendously empowering. Adding to the ethereal moment, the cast had graphic double line eyeliner, in some great work by make-up artist Miranda Joyce.
But, above all, this show will be remembered for taking the concept of a sporty collab’ to a new level.
Erdem: Expressionism in Sadler’s Wells
Divine entre deux guerres-decadence from Erdem, in the latest beautiful collection from Erdem Moralioglu inspired by the 1930s.
Referencing female photographers and artists, like Madame d’Ora, an Austrian fashion and portrait photographer, and recalling that German women were finally able to vote in 1919.
All set in a giant black box within Sadler’s Wells, where a lone pianist on a grand piano serenaded the cast, in a room so dark it was unfortunately quite difficult to actually see the clothes.
A cabaret style event, with the whiff of thirties Berlin, thanks to the revamped flapper dresses made with glistening sequins, a myriad of fringes and elongated waistlines. Finished with sequin scarves; pearl-crusted brogues and long silver studded gloves.
“I've loved the swoosh of a sequin on a cocktail dress, since childhood,” joked Erdem backstage, after a particularly brilliant display.
But there was nothing retro about these clothes, as Erdem placed pearl-beaded nylon brassieres over bugle-beaded dresses and great micro plissé cocktails; or topped cascading lace layer frocks with metallic mesh aviator helmets.
A collection also clearly influenced by Erdem’s recent launch of a menswear collection, as it included several great mohair men’s style double-breasted coats. Several looks were simply the menswear tailoring on female models.
“After doing menswear I was thinking about the extreme of femininity and masculinity placed together. And also looking at Fortuny, and the whole idea of hand embroidered dresses,” said Erdem, a patron of Sadler’s Wells.
Paul & Joe: Suffragette chic
Leave it to a French house to recall Emmeline Pankhurst and women’s fight for the right to vote. Seen in an emancipating series of clothes that retained a very at ease lady-like approach.
“Gentle woman farmer,” commented designer Sophie Mechaly of her smart marriage of French insouciance and sturdy English style.
Blouses finished with the high Victorian collars and necklines that Pankhurst favored; sensible top coats and sturdy tartan suits made of wide-pleated skirts under schoolmarm’s cloak/blouses.
Though, as Paul & Joe is a Paris label, both the boys and girls in this co-ed show wore knit berets. The ladies also fitted out in white tights and platform brogues – a huge trend here.
Though, the clothes were fundamentally optimistic, they also had a certain elegant gravitas given that their inspiration was the single most important individual in the electoral emancipation of 20th century women. And one who paid a high price, being arrested seven times, and spending six weeks in prison, which she famously described as “like a human being in the process of being turned into a wild beast.”
Even as she leavened in plenty of wit, like the joyfully naïve prints by artist Zoe Hawk, which looked great when seen before the aged brick red cloister of Charterhouse, a storied Harry Potter-worthy school first built in 1601.
A show that also included the return to menswear of Paul & Joe, designed by Mechaly’s son Adrien Albou. The scion playing with similar themes, from his sailor-neck cardigans and wide-leg corduroy pants to moss green velvet suits and dapper rockstar velvet tuxedo suit in a chain link pattern.
All told, a great second runway foray into London by a savvy French brand.
Preen: Dancehall sweethearts
No doubt about it, Preen staged a great modern ballet performance choreographed by Monique Jonas, so good it often overshadowed the clothes.
Presented inside the techno/house club Heaven, practically underneath Charing Cross station, whose speakers shook all the bench seats upon which sat the pampered editors and buyers.
The ballet dancers pirouetting, spasmodically jumping and gyrating as if in pain, as they danced around the small club with a mammoth system.
When it came to the actual clothes, the key element was lace; an idea telegraphed by the show program, an image of books, one of which was The Dead Girl in a Lace Dress by Jeanne Hyvrard. Lace seen in everything from black body-stockings and pink tutus to revealing lingerie femme fatales looks and flamenco dresses.
Despite the thundering soundtrack, there was even a moment of grace – when two offbeat debutantes, naughty versions of Pride and Prejudice, performed a romantic duet.
Preen’s designers Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi also sent out bold floral layered plissé gowns – a huge London trend – puffers with watercolor prints trimmed with mini ruffles and for guys, ruffled flamenco trousers.
The overriding memory of this show, however, will be the funky fox-trot and not the fashion.
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