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This season, Alexa Chung was dressing for the “apocalypse”. Or at least a community of women who might be found “digging themselves out of a crisis”. Molly Goddard’s women were “stomping through a storm”.
We’ll leave the Theresa May analogies alone, but themes of human survival and endurance are becoming common at LFW, and it can’t be entirely coincidental.
Goddard’s collection of balaclavas, robust tailoring and workwear smocks was punctuated with shots of frivolity — a dress in neon tulle, or a pinafore in a sparkling jacquard — but the clothes all swaddled and protected.
Most people know Molly Goddard via the giant pink confection worn by Killing Eve’s Villanelle, and there were plenty of other looks for television’s favourite anti-heroine to wear here.
The models wore biker boots by Penelope Chilvers and carried “eiderdown clutches”, that looked like little pillows; Villanelle will now have something on which to rest her weary head.
A few years of managing her own label has left Chung no stranger to the odd crisis herself. Founded in 2016, she took investment from Pembroke VCT in 2017. The fund focuses on early stage consumer start-ups in 2017, and the pressure to report growth is on.
“It’s been intense,” said Chung of the twin pressures of running a business as well as steering the creative direction of her namesake brand. “I feel as though I’ve aged 1,000 years in the last six months.” Incidentally, Chung’s last pre-collection was inspired by Joan of Arc and featured chainmail and mesh. Here, the armour was less literal, but the collection’s mood was designed for the embattled. It was darker. More serious. Less playful. As Chung has matured, she’s got less time for “fun”.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Quite the opposite in fact. In the event of Armageddon, Chung sees us wearing a Laura-Ashley style prairie dress, sparkly, stack-heeled strappy Mary Janes, tailored blazers and corduroy knickerbockers. The cropped trouser has been a recurring feature at London Fashion Week.
As has layering — I’ve already lost count of the number of times I’ve seen trousers under skirts, or adding balance to slim, fitted dresses. The palette was sombre, the blacks and greys of mourning, according to Chung, with little interludes of forest green. The models wore triangular scarves on their heads. It was part Shaker, part Worker’s Revolution, part Big Sur drop out, but it had a pleasing uniformity in the end.
Another major London trend: heritage fabrics. With so much focus on British manufacture, and what it means to be British, it’s perhaps no wonder designers are feeling it as well. In the event of Armageddon (otherwise known as a no-deal Brexit) at least we’ll have our tweeds.
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