What does one show on the runway when your country is a mess, politically speaking? Well, for the designers at London Fashion Week grappling with Brexit's possible aftermath, it means dressing your citizens for whatever role they chose to play in it. Moreover, for the Fall 2019 season, it meant wielding fashion as a tool of optimism, power and protection. "Keep calm and carry on" is as close to a national slogan as you can get, after all.
That's not to say that the runways in the British capital were quiet or boring — far from it, in fact. The trends that rose to the top following the just-wrapped, five-day schedule offered a complex mix of old-school heritage and contemporary narratives that will hopefully continue to evolve at the upcoming shows in Milan and Paris.
Before we turn our gaze to the mainland, let's dive into the key trends that we'll be wearing from the London collections come fall.
Orange was the new black at New York Fashion Week, but in London it was red. Symbolic of love, passion, fire, blood and, well, the devil, few other colors are as bold and uncompromising. It's a shorthand for making a statement, and designers across the board made good use of it. Some of our crimson-spiked favorites include Erdem, Preen by Thornton Bregazzi and J.W. Anderson.
Call it the Meghan Markle Effect if you will: Looks fit for a princess popped up on runways all over the city. For the off-duty royal there was Victoria Beckham and Margaret Howell. For society events, we'd love to see Markle in one of Christopher Kane's crystal-strewn coats or an elegantly nipped-in number by A.W.A.K.E. Mode.
Bookmark this trend as one to watch in Milan and Paris. Continuing on from the New York shows, frothy feathers remained a prevalent theme for Fall 2019 in London. Some designers opted for feathers gleaned from actual birds, while others imitated the look using taffeta and wool.
There's a very fine line between good and bad taste, and crafty patchwork is prone to err on the darker side of it. Done right, however, it has the power to conjure up "Grey Gardens"-esque eccentrics and California babes in the '70s. For better or for worse, it was a major trend at London Fashion Week this season, thanks to designers like Shrimps, Molly Goddard, Preen, Ashley Williams and Burberry.
British Heritage Plaid
The Brits love for plaid of all kinds runs deep — and it makes sense when you think about it, really. The earliest known tartan dates back to Scotland around the third or fourth century AD, when the woven textile served as a codified system to help differentiate between various geographical districts. Fast-forward to today, and designers in London continue to flood the runway with it. Naturally, heritage brands stand out the most here, think Burberry and Pringle of Scotland.
Another rollover from the New York shows, black leather was big on the runway in London. Whether you're looking a floor-length coat that screams "The Matrix" or a cleverly tailored cape-slash-blazer, you'll be sure to find it (plus a whole lot more) come next season.
Thanks to a slew of talented designers, London is fast becoming the top destination for dresses that pack a dramatic punch. Molly Goddard's fluorescent explosions in taffeta and tulle, Halpern's iridescent minis and Mary Katrantzou's intergalactic gowns top the category.