LFW SS23: more is more, menswear and so much denim
From barbiecore to biker chic, here are all the trends you need to know fresh off the London SS23 runway
words Sophie Lou Wilson
A week ago, the fate of London Fashion Week hung in the balance. With the passing of Queen Elizabeth II on 8 September, the question on the lips of London's fashion crowd was, well, what about fashion week? The city's chicest calendar event directly coincided with the national period of mourning and the day of her Majesty's funeral itself, but, for many young designers who have put their blood, sweat and tears (not to mention their bank accounts) into their latest collections, it was a case of the show must go on. The British Fashion Council announced that the week would go ahead with a reduced schedule "respecting the mood of the nation and paying tribute to Elizabeth II."
This translated as designers paying tribute to Queen Lizzie with one-minute silences, musical renditions and mournful attire while models at Nensi Dojaka and Harris Reed clutched bunches of lilies of the valley, her Majesty's favourite flower. But tributes aside, LFW SS23 was anything but a sombre affair as skin-baring dresses and club kid-wear took centre stage. It's what she would've wanted.
Chet Lo’s debut fashion show brought the reverence and emotion to his roots as a Chinese-American designer, melting Eastern and Western aesthetics, fun and colour, his Buddhist upbringing, and his trademark spike knit into one beautiful, serene scene. Elsewhere, Susan Fang's sensual, feminine energy was channeled into a vibrant runway show, with candy-hued colours and fantastical silhouettes. Sinead O'Dwyer produced a triumphant show despite the hasty rescheduling, and highlighted her affirming belief in body acceptance and diversity with two models using wheelchairs on her runway.
At Mark Fast '80s ravers marched to the beat in neon bodysuits, face glitter and tight minis. 16Arlington’s high-glam affair was served up with OTT faux fur coats and shimmering dresses. And at Halpern, eclectic evening wear brought together leopard print, sequins and velvet. With IRL late-night fashion week events cancelled, it was only fitting that the party took place on the runway instead.
With a slightly reduced schedule and the BFC referring to this fashion week as a "business-to-business event", the usual parade of celebs and influencers was less present, providing an opportunity to focus on what it's really all about: the clothes. So, without further ado, here are the top fashion moments from LFW SS23.
Traditionally, September is women's fashion month, but rules were made to be broken. As designers increasingly take a genderless approach to clothing to reflect a move away from rigidly defined gender roles, it's no longer surprising to see menswear and womenswear shown as part of the same collection, often with a fluidity woven throughout. This season Simone Rocha showed menswear for the first time, maintaining her signature ruched, frilly silhouettes, tulle and shirt dresses reworked for the male consumer, though the pieces will likely appeal to all genders. Meanwhile at Daniel W. Fletcher and S.S. Daley both showed collections that could be described as largely genderless with eclectic suiting taking the lead.
CLASHING IS THE NEW MATCHING
Forget any rules you learnt about never wearing pink with red or only wearing one pattern at a time. This season's penchant for maximalism means that more is always more. Take cues from Chopova Lowena who ripped up the rule book in the best way possible pairing tinsel knits with pleated kilts and child-like doodle prints with sophisticated satin. Or look to JW Anderson whose bold, uncanny designs saw upside down knits worn with ripped iridescent denim and quilted red leather shorts accessorised with chunky pink sandals. Susan Fang's detailed separates are the perfect inspo for a high-octane summer wardrobe dripping in sensual energy –organza ruffles paired with a blue beaded crop top, psychadelic prints on party dresses, and high-drama skirts with slits
GOING OUT OUT
This season was for the party animals, from the feral club rats to the high-glam material girls. 16Arlington's Swarovski crystal beading and lush faux fur gave lashings of party-ready glitz and is sure to be spotted on many a fashion editor come party season. Nensi Dojaka's SS23 show took place at 10am on Sunday morning, but you probably wouldn't get away with wearing her signature sheer body-hugging cut-out dresses to church. They're better suited for Saturday nights going out out. Finally, Mark Fast's fast-paced show went back to the 80s with neon jumpsuits and aerobics-wear as an ode to the era's ravers.
The cut-out trend continues to be an ubiquitous runway presence. Since it's trickled down, fast fashion copycat versions, designers are coming up with new ways to bare it all, from clear vinyl panels to showing the trend on more diverse body shapes. This season, Molly Goddard gave us a peak beneath her famous tulle dresses with midriff-baring crop tops and naked dresses baring, well, pretty much everything, as well as super-sheer thin neon tulle over sporty striped bikinis. Christopher Kane's runway return saw the designer using completely clear vinyl panels to connect cut-out dresses and Dilara Findikoglu showed corsets and barely there dresses that looked like they stepped out of a dark fairytale. At Fashion East, Karoline Vitto presented her own refreshing and inclusive vision of the cut-out trend, exclusively using curvy models in a celebration of bodies underrepresented in fashion.
Elle Woods once famously quipped that, “Whoever said orange is the new pink was seriously disturbed.” This season, designers seemed to agree with pink being a favourite shade at Knwls, Molly Goddard and Nensi Dojaka. The SS23 season will line-up with the release of Greta Gerwig's Barbie, due for release next July, which has contributed to the trend for all things pink, sparkly and Y2K, dubbed 'Barbiecore' by TikTok trend forecasters. Knwls strayed from their signature neutral colour scheme to show what cool girl Barbie would wear in 2022 with pink asymmetric dresses, handbags, a low-rise mini and pink leather jacket. Molly Goddard returned to her signature pink palette with frothy dresses as well as suits, sweatshirts and cardigans for men, proving that pink is for all genders. Love was in the air at Nensi Dojaka where pink bralettes were inserted with cut-out hearts and pink sequins embellished skirts and dresses.
SO MUCH DENIM
We've not seen this much denim in one place since Justin and Britney's 2001 red carpet moment. Pleated bleached denim maxis stood out at Stefan Cooke who also incorporated the fabric in shorts, jeans and bomber jackets. At Knwls, cropped bleached denim jackets were styled with matching low-rise midis. However, Masha Popova is the clear winner when it comes to high fashion denim. At her debut runway show, the Ukrainian designer showed detailed bleached denim, reworking the utilitarian material into evening dresses, swirl print jeans and tie-dye maxi skirts.
If you invest in one jacket this season, make it brown leather, the more distressed, the better. Not sure how to style it? Look no further than the LFW runway for inspiration. At Stefan Cooke, an embossed brown leather jacket was paired with simple black jeans while at 16Arlington and Knwls leather biker jackets came with matching mini skirts. Rejina Pyo's brown leather trench was also a standout piece. Time to hit the vintage stores to find your own.