richard quinn's unafraid british glamour flourishes in fierce creative opposition to brexit

The Queen-approved Emerging Womenswear Designer of the Year closed LFW with a couture-led creative resistance.

by Steve Salter
20 February 2019, 11:04am

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

As models stepped out of the darkness Richard Quinn’s unafraid British glamour lit up the season. Against the infinite scroll of negative news updates, we need drama, we need romance and we need unafraid glamour. Richard Quinn offers all of these and more.

“In these dystopian times, there is a search for the things that can light our way," Richard Quinn explained after last season’s show. He reminded us of the power of art by inviting students from his former schools to sit frow and inspired the next generation. Here, Quinn's answer was to turn his ever dazzling dial of couture-led craft, colour, print and hyper-glamorous forms to 11. Britain might be stuck in a existential winter because of Brexit but Quinn is in full bloom.


“We wanted to create a world," the designer explained post-show. "It's the first time we've gone off-site and it gave us an opportunity to craft our own atmosphere." That meant transforming the underground, inner-city show venue into an urban oasis that was a world away from the fast-paced, thumping-soundtrack show experiences that dominate fashion week. Banked with flowers and a huge chandelier, the show was soundtracked by a live performance from another British breakthrough success story of 2018, Freya Ridings. "We've been listening to Freya in the studio, more or less on repeat, and her team actually reached out just before we were going to approach her." Ridings sang of heartbreak, regret, hope and love as Quinn presented his own hymns to glamour and romance, leading many of us in attendance to fight back the emotions (no one wants to be that person who cries at a fashion show, right?). Few designers have the power to move you -- physically, mentally and emotionally -- as Richard Quinn.

The season’s crop of couture-led shapes elevated the florcore resistance of Richard Quinn to the next level of super-femme power-dressing. Voluminous trapezes and puffballs contrasted with intensely embroidered suits and bodysuits alternated between fragile tulle and fetish latex. As he looks to light up the darkness, a clashing of old and new worlds was the power source. "When I was interning at Dior, many of the archive pieces had a corset within the dress, as ours do now, as it enables us to create more extreme waists." In the few minutes i-D spent with him, Quinn repeated the words elevate, extreme and relevant multiple times. For the time poor, they provide the perfected show commentary. From Adwoa Aboah opening the show in a silhouette-shifting embellished tartan evening coat and teamed with latex tights and opera gloves through to the wedding dress feathered finale, this was elevated, this was extreme , this was relevant.


"We really wanted to elevate what we do, turning our prints into embroideries to show an evolution. There's a challenge when you do so many prints as we dp, it can easily become too much. There had to be a measured balance, that's one of the reasons we turned to embroidery, the other was to make couture-led craft relevant to us." For Quinn and his team that meant breathing new life on dusty old worlds. They lacing their ever-evolving floral kaleidoscope over tradition, delving deep and taking on the techniques that pushed their practice forward, challenging convention and injecting youthful energy to drag forgotten yesterdays into an exciting tomorrow.

"I believe creativity thrives in adversity and now, more than ever, we need to be heard to make positive change," he explained to i-D shortly after he graduated from the talent conveyor belt that is CSM MA's course. "It's always darkest before the dawn!" Two years on, Richard Quinn is showing us the dawn.


This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

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