lfw goes nightclubbing
As London's spring/ summer 17 shows got underway, the city's new generation of young designers put the fun back in fashion — and the establishment joined the party.
molly goddard spring/summer 17
If Marc Jacobs' nostalgic pan-decades club kids got the party started on the last day of the New York shows, it hasn't yet stopped in London. In her first full fashion show, tutu queen Molly Goddard had models raving at the root of her runway in what she said was a longing for the epic fashion productions that made her dream as a teenager. "The world's quite miserable most of the time, isn't it, so we just try to make fashion as fun as it can be. And I always look at the old shows when there was no limit to money and ridiculousness. I was trying to emulate that a little bit, on a mere school budget," she smiled backstage at the Spitalfields Market venue that's hosting the NewGen shows this season.
"The collection had a lot to do with me going out as a teenager. We dressed up different and didn't dress up to look like everyone else. We made things and customized things." It was a notion, which quite perfectly described the ease and attractive naivety to Goddard's inventions, for instance in the girlie greatness of a powder grey transparent debutante dress in tulle styled over a slouchy orange onesie with cut-outs, or a mad royal purple ruffle cascading down a half-naked body and a granny pant. You had to see it to believe it, and therein lay the kind of nostalgic fun to which Goddard was referring — not even necessarily a reference to the glamorous old productions of Mugler, Gaultier, or Galliano, but to a London Fashion Week just ten years ago where Gareth Pugh's shows in the tent at the Natural History Museum were like bonkers rock concerts and this city's fashion industry wasn't so neat and ladylike.
"I wanted to show that a show could be quite fun, I think, because I've seen some not so fun shows," Goddard said. "That's not a very good quote," she pondered, oh but it was! London's new generation of young, mainly female designers to which Goddard belongs are slowly but surely putting the madness back into British fashion, rolling their eyes at the gentrification that's hit this entire city, not just on the fashion front.
Ashley Williams, Mimi Wade, Paula Knorr, Marta Jakubowski, Sadie Williams, Shrimps, and boys Ryan Lo and Matty Bowan all brought their much-needed magic touch of madness to the party on the first two days of London Fashion Week — the latter, Bowan, in an electric My Little Pony-colored performance under Fashion East on Saturday morning, which had all the hand-crafted, irreverent pomp and circumstance of this city's fashion scene ten years ago, before club kids became extinct and underground scenes were put on public display on Instagram.
Even Gareth Pugh and Henry Holland, now part of the establishment, hinted at those clubby roots of theirs a decade ago when they ruled the London fashion scene as part of a small but powerful group of young designers. In commemoration of his tenth anniversary, Holland's finale debuted an updated parade of the esoteric designer slogan t-shirts that got him on the pages of a new weekly called Grazia a decade ago — now including punch-lines such as "You make me hard, Molly Goddard" — while Pugh, whose ode from Holland back then read "Uhu, Gareth Pugh," wore a Matthew Stone t-shirt for his finale with the words "Optimism as creative rebellion."
Simone Rocha had a swift entry into the establishment, but with her girlie and emotive design codes and values she's an influential representative for a new generation of London designers. This season she took out the Southwark Cathedral in a show dedicated to the farm girl photographs by Jackie Nickerson, which Rocha had seen juxtaposed with the old masters in an exhibition at the National Gallery of Ireland.
One of those masters was William John Leech, whose catholic school girls provided the final inspiration for her collection heavy on broderie anglaise, and fusing — here comes the London part — "synthetic and earthy fabrics" in a rather subversive mix that looked a little bit naughty in the hallowed hall of the cathedral. Rocha's girls could as easily have gone to the club as the could the alter, and if they did late on Saturday evening they might have run into Zayn Malik and Gigi Hadid, who watched courtside as Bella Hadid opened Donatella Versace's Versus show. That show had little to do with underground London, but in all its delectable clubbiness it was a welcome reminder that the über fashion establishment still sees London as a hub of youthful fun.
Text Anders Christian Madsen