LFW: Simone Rocha, Roksanda, Paul & Joe and Osman
London Fashion Week’s final day of major shows on Monday was the latest tour around the capital, from outdoor Hyde Park art centre to East End church with stops in Mayfair, including a gentleman’s club to a trendy concept restaurant.
We caught up with four actual catwalk shows - Simone Rocha; Roksanda; Paul & Joe and Osman
Simone Rocha: Experimental romanticism
A tour de force display by Simone Rocha in a medieval church and the defining collection in the first proper post-lockdown season in London Fashion Week.
Simone fusing all her signature sleights of hand and technical flourishes into a beautiful display of experimental and voluminous romanticism.
Dresses almost grew out of jackets and trench-coats as Rocha added a fresh organically deconstructed element to her DNA. Most dramatically with dimpled satin dresses that emerged out of serge mannish coats.
Staged in St Bartholomew’s church, the scene of the final nuptials in 'Four Weddings and a Funeral', and an apt setting for the frequently religious references in the collection – ginormous reverend mother’s collars with scallop trim, or a nun’s habit morphed into something rather wonderfully new.
Rocha’s fondness for interlaced strips of satin, oversized pearls and embroidered coral seen in dramatic gothic dresses of voluminous quantities of tulle and chiffon.
“Sleep walking, mothering. Communion dress, embellished, distressed,” read the program notes from the young mum, Rocha, who decided to close her backstage, respecting sanitary measures.
After 18 months where everyone was forced to slow down and examine who they were and where they wanted to go, it was striking to witness Simone’s poetic proposition of life lived gracefully in broderie anglaise, bedding brocade and distressed leather.
The designer was also courageous enough to take plenty of risks – sending out an elephantine perfecto over a cotton poplin shirt with puritan collar and flared short dress trimmed in broderie anglaise. The same trim used on ankle socks tucked into mammoth modernist platforms, which, in turn, had embroidered patterns. Indeed, almost alone among indie London designers Rocha has built a great footwear business, and her array of embroidered ballet slippers finished with pearls will ensure that division is bound to accelerate.
All this together winning the designer a huge burst of applause at the finale; from an audience all of whom wore masks. Unlike, unfortunately, the majority of shows in London this season.
Roksanda: Performance art and Joan Didion quotes
Roksanda: Gravity defying fashion in Hyde Park, and balletic fashion from this season Roksanda, who returned to a favorite old haunt, the Serpentine Pavilion, to present her Spring/Summer 2022 collection.
All unveiled within this year’s architectural installation from Johannesburg-based practice Counterspace. Its director, Sumayya Vally, is the youngest architect to be commissioned by this annual program and the result was a light gray and ecru assemblage referencing current and demolished buildings in London – including elements of mosques, bookshops and dance clubs.
Though the end result was like the clothes – a series of abstractions melded, spliced and superimposed in swirling statement costumes. Gravity defying shapes made by bonding fabrics and stiffening hems and rims so dresses curved and arched upwards and collars extended out of shoulders.
Many of them worn by the dance troop in a work of performance art by her old buddy Holly Blakely. The very dance movements helping the clothes come alive – as a dozen models and as many performers rambled around the space, occasionally nudging aside a guest the better to pirouette.
Even if her most beautiful looks were slouchy raincoats in transparent material over-painted with wild daubs and even quotes from Joan Didion’s book of essays 'Slouching Towards Bethlehem'.
Paul & Joe: La Mode Parisienne in Mayfair
A triumphant entry into London Fashion Week by Paul & Joe, whose energetic designer Sophie Mechaly has always been a bona-Anglophile.
Presented amid Royal portraits and oils of upstanding gents inside Dartmouth House. Somewhat eccentrically for the setting of show by a French brand, Dartmouth House is a club of the English-Speaking Union in Mayfair.
A gaggle of local 'it' gals and guys – Lady Mary Charteris, Greta Bellamacina, Betty Bachz, Grace Chatto, Sam Rollinson, Dylan Weller, Juan Milan, Kyle De’Volle, Nell Tiger Free and Tigerlily Taylor – sat front row.
Mechaly referenced childlike imagery throughout – with the key item the baby-doll dress in prairie or alpine flowers. Every second model marching in knee socks with matching florals or Pinball Wizard platforms. Her carefree casting marching inside the cut-stone interior garden in flouncy pink frocks with cut-off bouffant sleeve or cool floral lattice stripe blazers.
At times it was Miss Havisham-meets-Tess of the d’Urbervilles with grand dresses in faded dried flower prints. Before the designer suddenly shifted gears with crochet lederhosen, cardigans and hot pants; or saucy bloomers and matching bras in crinkly little florals.
Backed up by a great soundtrack of French rock and pop hits, including France Gall and Jane Birkin, and also given a great twist by Japanese cosplay, one-eyed makeup.
“I was brought up to be a great admirer of London so to show here finally is a great personal joy. My father used to take us to shop annually as little kids in Harrods, so when I was a young gal my aesthetic was quite London professional family,” smiled Mechaly backstage, as a swarm of fans gathered around.
Osman: Biodegradable chic in wood pulp
Osman Yousefzada pulls no punches when it comes to the environment, basing his latest collection on Tencel, a filament formed from wood pulp that lead to a striking collection of proportions and punch.
Produced by the Lenzing Group, Tencel proved to be surprisingly supple, seen in paper-light silk jerseys or hand-woven organzas.
Osman entitled the collection, 'What happened to last season’s clothes', in a post-Covid reflection on over excess.
The result was diaphanous midnight blue cloaks; Tencel serge tunics with crystal bands; 'Game of Thrones' blousons worn with bicycle shorts and lace pants, paired with semi-sheer scarf shirts held together with a chunky medallion.
His most divine moment, a meeting of a lace bod-suit with an Emirates flight attendant. Worn on a cast that at on time would have been called crossdressers, but nowadays are referred to as non-binary.
All rather spicy, just like the cocktail served at the location, a giant swish restaurant called Amazonica on Berkeley Square.
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