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London Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2023 arrived amidst a somber national mourning period following the passing of Queen Elizabeth II and her funeral. The absence of major players like Burberry and Raf Simons raised questions about the event’s outcome. However, emerging London designers, including Molly Goddard, Erdem, Edward Crutchley, Rejina Pyo, and Bora Aksu, stepped up to the occasion, presenting their collections while paying homage to a monarch known for championing creativity and design. As Milan takes the fashion spotlight, the impact of these collections lingers.
Molly Goddard: A Celebration of Fun and Color
Molly Goddard’s SS23 collection drew inspiration from a pre-internet era when dressing up was all about celebrating and having fun. Referencing the work of couturier Charles James, Goddard embraced the idea of pushing materials to their limits and letting them dictate the design. The result was an explosion of color and volume, showcasing vibrant tulle dresses alongside intricately cut cotton evening gowns, jersey ball gowns, sleek tailoring, knitted hoodies, and kitschy printed tops. The show concluded with a magnificent bridal tulle gown, a fitting tribute to modern fashion brides.
Erdem: A Journey into Restoration and Obsession
Erdem’s Spring/Summer 2023 collection explored the restoration of art, inspired by time spent with restoration specialists at renowned institutions. The process of restoration, marked by passion and dedication, served as a metaphor for creativity. The collection featured elements of “undoing,” with frayed hems, faded textiles, and patchwork repairs. Erdem dedicated the show to Her Majesty the Queen, with black-veil-covered styles reflecting the mourning period.
Edward Crutchley: Embracing the Sea and Proteus
Edward Crutchley, the Woolmark Prize winner, drew inspiration from the Greek sea god Proteus for his SS23 collection. It showcased a range of garments, from elaborate gowns to body-con dresses and crystal-adorned thongs. Crutchley’s mastery of material manipulation shone through, with a new shimmering cloqué jacquard designed exclusively for the collection. The ocean served as a central theme, inspiring fluid silhouettes, holographic sequin waves, and deep-sea blue ensembles.
Rejina Pyo: Celebrating Love and Work
Rejina Pyo’s SS23 collection celebrated the essence of being human, focusing on the intersection of love and work. The collection featured feminine tailoring, sculptural shapes, sheer button-up tops, and denim pieces with hand-frayed detailing. Pyo also introduced sustainable elements, such as swimwear made from recycled nylon and new bag designs.
Bora Aksu: An Anachronistic Dreamscape
Bora Aksu, the London-based Turkish designer, presented an “anachronistic dreamscape” inspired by the works of Henry Darger and Marcel Dzama. The collection explored the balance between innocence and perversion while emphasizing femininity. Aksu’s signature ruffles, tulle, and pastel hues mingled with military-inspired elements, medallions, sashes, and painterly motifs. Sustainable design practices played a significant role, with many materials sourced from rejected designs and damaged rolls.
London Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2023 showcased the resilience and creativity of emerging designers who paid tribute to the late Queen while pushing the boundaries of fashion. From Molly Goddard’s vibrant celebration to Erdem’s exploration of restoration and Edward Crutchley’s ocean-inspired collection, these designers left an indelible mark. Rejina Pyo embraced the essence of human experience, and Bora Aksu created an “anachronistic dreamscape.” As fashion continues to evolve, these collections remind us of the power of creativity and innovation on the runway.