Francesco Lo Iacono
LONDON FASHION WEEK AW21
Updated: Aug 10, 2021
Roughly twelve months ago, I was sketching live at MM6 Margiela, Vivienne Westwood and JW Anderson during London Fashion Week. Something that now looks so far and almost like a previous life. Who would have thought that I'd be missing sliding between photographers and make-up artists in a much-crowded backstage with my drawing board and brushes?!
Fast forward to 2021, London Fashion Week is now fully digital and gender-neutral, with the British capital in the middle of a third lockdown. While browsing the new offerings showcased digitally at London Fashion Week, I keep wondering if Autumn/Winter 2021 is the season where we get rid of our sweatpants. Are we finally going back to dress up for something else than taking out the trash?
For now, everyone is adapting to the new normal, including myself as an illustrator. Most of the designers opted to present their new collections on the LFW platform, offering videos that explore new creative solutions or more classic pre-recorded runway shows.
Known for her social and environmental commitment, Bethany Williams introduced a gender-neutral capsule coat collection, available exclusively at Selfridges, based on carefully sourced blankets from the vintage market.
"A blanket is so much more than a piece of fabric, it is a feeling of comfort and shelter and I wanted that feeling to be at the heart of this capsule collection".
The new offering is part of an ongoing collaboration with the Magpie Project, a charity that supports women and children under five in temporary, unsuitable or no accommodation.
Bora Aksu, staged a dreamy runway show, at Tate Britain, creating a collection that feels as contemporary as ever, drawing inspiration from the life of mathematician and physicist Sophie Germain, who experienced first hand a feeling of isolation.
"Despite the 200 years between us, I felt an immediate kinship with Sophie. The isolation and uncertainty of the last year have caused me to search for new sources of hope and creativity. Sophie’s own isolation allowed her to find the ideas that would drive her for the rest of her life. In that way, she has shown me that even in the bleakest of times, there is always hope, if one chooses to seek it".
Edward Crutchley presented his new collection with a powerful video showing the models rocking the garments and moments of the process that led to their creation, highlighting the craftsmanship that lies behind it. Following his previous endeavours, this new collection is finely executed, showing up that kind of attention to details proper to experienced designers.
This season, Crutchley uses the North and its unique glamour as the main inspiration, while focusing on sustainability, the sourcing process and where and how fabrics are created.
In order to organically represent his vision, the designer worked along with many other creatives on different features including Johnstons of Elgin, Judith Leiber and Stephen Jones.
Molly Goddard found inspiration in the libraries and some iconic books she already had, mixing this with archive folders of research she's been compiling in the last 15 years.
"I loved the idea of making the ultimate dresses, based on classic prom or party dresses that are so recognisable, but a little twisted - the tulle dress becomes so loud and clashing that it is almost ugly, the taffeta bows are spiky sharp, as are the bows on the shoes. Colour and detail are key, layers of socks and tights and lace-up leather, building up colourful and intricate outfits from simple pieces".
Similarly to other designers, also Riccardo Tisci, at the helm of British luxury house Burberry, conceived his first menswear-focused collection upon the reflection of the kind of life that awaits us at the end of this pandemic.
"Enclosed indoors, I dreamt of the outdoors and its beauty, fuelled by the thought of the creativity that comes when we are together. I became fascinated by the widespread British craft and outdoor movements of the early 20th century when people escaped to explore the unknown countryside. They formed communities with a deep respect for nature and the outdoors and looked forward to a future full of possibility".
A personal highlight of the show is the hypnotic soundtrack: "Sequence (Four)". The track, originally composed by Bridget Samuels, was remixed by British multi-instrumentalist Peter Gregson exclusively for this presentation (and I have been listening to it on a loop since then!).