Another show season in London found designers taking up residence in an ever-diversifying range of venues across the capital. As well as ensuring the fashion pack were constantly on the move, the Spring/Summer 2017 collections represented a determination among London’s heritage brands to shake off the shackles of convention and present modern manifestos for change that were echoed in their locations and design.
With summer fading fast, it was a pleasure to find Paul Smith presenting the joys of spring in his King’s Cross presentation. Florist Flora Starkey dotted patches of pampas grass, violets and daisies around the sleek urban surrounds of Kings Place, which models brushed their hands through as they passed – elegant iterations of the blooms reproduced on their dresses and zippered jackets.
‘It started with the power of the circle,’ Anya Hindmarch said of her S/S 2017 presentation at the Royal Horticultural Halls in Victoria. And it proceeded with geometric drama as the plain white disc dominating the centre of the set lifted into the air to reveal a sunken amphitheatre, lit by the shifting saturations of the platform that had once been the floor. Models poured from a trapdoor in precise pastel shades, neoprene summer coats and laser cut bags – their space-age Alice bands echoing the futuristic aura of the set.
The magnificent backdrop of Southwark Cathedral added to the communion service feel of Simone Rocha’s collection that was steeped heavily in her Irish heritage. The first flurry of white dresses – a statement of otherworldly innocence – that proceeded solemnly down the aisle was leavened by the earthier additions of rubber gloves, patchwork and Perspex shoes. In Rocha’s words, the mood was ‘beautiful Victorian Catholic paintings, mixed with textiles from workers on the farm’.
While the definitive British brand held its A/W 2016 show in the sumptuous 14th-century surrounds of the Guildhall, this season Mulberry’s stage was set in a concrete-clad warehouse in London’s Docklands, where models walked down a paved runway lit by a bolt of uncompromising white light. The sparse drama of the set, the out-of-the-way location, and the hiring of Vetements and Balenciaga favourite Lotte Volkova as show stylist, suggest that creative director Johnny Coca is taking the brand in a dynamic new direction.
Starring billowing silk dresses and palazzo trousers, and walked to a composition titled Beyond Romance, Roksanda Ilincic’s S/S 2017 collection was a seductive moment. Set designer Gary Card’s long, powdery pink wall featured abstract shapes carved from uncoloured MDF that echoed the grown-up femininity of the clothes. This was offset by the concrete ceiling of the Brutalist location, 180 The Strand.
This season Burberry turned a new page. The house showcased its first ever ‘see now, buy now’ collection for both men and women, which was staged not in the customary Kensington Gardens tent but at Makers House in Soho. But while the radical new strategy was top of the commercial agenda, it was history that came to mind when entering the show space. The entrance garden was lined with classical statues, created in collaboration with The New Craftsmen; the bespoke carpet that lined the catwalk was inspired by a Nancy Lancaster ceiling tile design, while the clothes themselves channeled the rich florals, brocade and silks of Virginia Woolf’s Elizabethan hero/heroine Orlando. For those interested in a deeper glimpse into the creativity of the Burberry world, Makers House will be open to visitors until 27 September.
Showing in the official British Fashion Council space at Brewer Street Car Park, Mary Katrantzou and Bureau Betak’s set for SS17 was an elegant clump of mirrored Daniel Buren-inspired columns that took on new life as they reflected the kaleidoscopic collection.
This season Joseph edged south, taking over the Lambeth Fire Station. The cavernous ceilings and primary coloured paintwork provided a rough-edged, minimalist backdrop to a collection that morphed from pared-back utilitywear into discordant layers of knits, cottons and neoprene.
This season Peter Pilotto and co-designer Christopher de Vos stayed at home, inviting guests to view their collection at their Matheson Whiteley-designed atelier on the ‘Haggerston Riviera’ in east London. There was a real community spirit to the show, conceived in collaboration with Bureau Betak. Martino Gamper, a great friend of the designers’, provided a rainbow selection of his tree trunk stools, his wife Francis Upritchard created the embroidered patches that adorned the South American inspired collection, while the Towpath Café next door provided the catering.