LFW AW24: The best bits

From Aaron Esh's sleek and sexy London to Dilara's new world order, here's what you missed from London Fashion Week AW/24

Natasha Zinko showed us our future

There’s only one thing to expect when approaching the doors of a Natasha Zinko show and that’s an army of Zinko-ists, or Zinkos, or whatever they’re called, forming an orderly line as far as the eye can see. All, of course, dressed head to toe from the London-based designer’s graphic, playful and nonconforming repertoire of work.  

For Zinko’s AW24 offering, the show began like most do, in some seemingly abandoned warehouse floor, guests slinking around pillars trying to find their seats in the low-lying light, wrapping your coat closely around your neck for warmth. In the middle of the Truman Brewery, the guests were greeted with a press release that made for rather bleak reading: 

“In the 1960s, humanity discovered the ultimate form of escapism—escaping the planet. Despite the evident political motivations, the ‘space race’ between the Soviets and the Americans brought enormous attention to our innate and very human desire to expand and explore. Not that long ago, the blackness of the night sky meant certain inaccessibility, now—exciting uncertainty, opportunity, an unimaginably huge expanse to yearn for with great vigour. Here we are, though, sixty years later, still on Earth, brought back here seemingly by an abundance of crises, whether it be our deteriorating environment or evident social issues.”

This season, Zinko took a turn away from focussing primarily on the silhouette and instead allowed the directional theme of the collection to play out in the detail. A stream of tired, dishevelled astronauts – or space cadets might be more fitting – stomped down the runway in long john undergarments usually worn beneath space suits. Zippy, futuristic tracksuits that look like they make you go faster followed sturdy one-piece, roomy overalls that combined space practicality with very earthly utility trends. Long, white zipped overcoat dresses conjured images of nurses working overtime in the year 2126 (what’s new?). And, in a bid to suggest the future can still be chic despite the odds, Zinko offered Star Trek-esque jackets that closed sharply at the collar with a defined cut down the torso. 

It was a display in the dystopian but one that never lost the rumblings that ‘adventure is out there!’  Ry Gavin

A bowl of Marlboro Golds from Aaron Esh

On Sunday evening (February 18th), the fashion world turned its gaze toward Aaron Esh, a London-born designer making his debut at London Fashion Week. After graduating from Central Saint Martins and having been named a 2023 LVMH semi-finalist, Esh presented his latest collection titled ‘Chaos and Control.’ Greeted with champagne and a bowl of cigarettes, Esh’s collection mixed traditional streetwear elements with innovative twists on classic attire, featuring modernised dinner jackets and cummerbunds used in unconventional ways.

This season, Esh drew inspiration from the spontaneous, real-life combinations of attire seen on Londoners, from the cherished coat layered over a hoodie for a quick errand, to the protective clutch of a jacket against the city’s winds. The colour palette mirrors London’s environment, from the purple hues of winter sunsets to the greys of its urban architecture, crafting an ode to the city and its eclectic fashion sense.

Esh balanced the high and low, crafting outfits that resonate with London’s unique reality, blending contemporary and nostalgic elements. And beyond the visual appeal, the collection showcases exceptional craftsmanship, from Savile Row-grade tailoring to innovative uses of materials like shaved wools, presented in a new line of Aaron Esh bags. Chris Saunders

Edward Crutchley went full David Byrne

It was cramped in the Ironmongers Hall next to the Barbican for Edward Crutchley’s AW24 offering. In a wooden room lined with regalia medals and flags, crown mouldings on the ceilings, various crests lining the back walls, Bobby Brazier and Bimini Bon Boulash sitting in the glow of golden chandeliers (one wearing a jockstrap, the other, not) – the scene fell somewhere between roaring Oxbridge dining hall and the hull of a royal fleet. 

One of the first shows of London Fashion Week AW24, it began, as most of Edward Crutchley’s shows do, with the unexpected. Down the rows of attendees sat facing each other, less than a metre width walkway between them, models with dishevelled, raggedy hair stomped through the gangways. Cigarettes drooped from between their fingers, the excess material on their jackets and separates knocked against people’s hands and phones as they marched down the aisles as if storming out of the room. 

What prevailed first and foremost were the silhouettes. Although Crutchley is often known for key looks that keep the accentuation of the body in mind, be it through latex or no clothing at all, for AW24, the designer went on the offensive. Arm width shoulders framed coats, much like the Talking Heads frontman, and bomber jackets that were emblazoned by depictions of the Greek God Dionysus. Big cowboy hats broke through the stuffiness of the room, as did the corseted latex trousers and vests.

It was, like all of Crutchley’s shows are, fun in theme, but serious in shape. Ry Gavin

Robyn Lynch looked to family 

In one way or another, family is always at the heart of Lynch’s shows. Searching through her father’s wardrobe for Aran knit jumpers, ‘Dad shoes’, and outerwear has shaped Lynch’s work up to now. But for her AW24 offering, this time she turned her attention towards her younger sister, Adrianna, a professional Irish dancer.  

Lynch’s staple Aran knit was on display once again, though this time combined with the endurance and practicality of C.P. Company jackets in the form of full or half vests. Hoodies constructed entirely from the material created rounded, padded silhouettes that conjured memories of sweaters, kept back for dog walking only, that stayed hung up by the back door for the colder nights. Though, Lynch’s real spark of camp came in the form of demi-tutus or dancing skirts which layered on top of nylon outdoor trousers and poked out underneath the C.P. jackets, created with John Carey Design, a designer known for their Irish dance costumes. Flashes of blue, sometimes emblazoned with sparkles that you can only catch if you squint, brought the collection to life, and reinforced Lynch’s contemporary take on more traditional items. 

For some designers, using family as an inspiration can often feel tired, overdone or regurgitated. But for Lynch, family goes deeper than seasonality or trend. Her ongoing ability to take childhood and combine it with delicate flamboyance and nouveau masculinity is what makes her an unflickering light on the LFW calendar. Ry Gavin

Yuhan Wang’s courtroom heroines

Yuhan Wang, the eponymous London-based womenswear brand created by Chinese designer Yuhan Wang in 2018, has been on the official London Fashion Week schedule since 2020. The Central Saint Martins graduate has become synonymous with her portrayal of feminine strength throughout her collections – and this year was her biggest statement yet. 

Entitled ‘The Trials’, Wang’s AW24 show “pays homage to the prominent female figures in the legal arena who have played pivotal roles in shaping history”. Models carried briefcases and books, and some garments had newspaper sheets affixed about the collars proclaiming “Every woman is her own lawyer”. Lace, ruffles and bows were worn with suit jackets, sensible skirts and houndstooth jackets. The influence of former US lawyer and jurist Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as stated in the show notes, could be seen in a black leather coat which closely resembled a judge’s robe. This was a show which combined femininity and power, hard and soft, whilst showcasing a beautifully wearable collection. Chris Saunders

Dilara’s new world order 

There are few designers who create such a buzz like Dilara does. And the run up to her AW24 show was no different. A queue outside the Mark Street Gardens church that curved down the road was a telling enough site. Expectedly, it was dark inside as guests searched for their seats. Spotlight torches blinded you momentarily as flashes of light lit up the faces of the likes of Yung Blud perching on the front row. Foreboding music entwined with Dilara’s brides and corpse brides rang out around the stone columns. 

After cancelling her show last season, Dilara’s AW24 brought her back with an anticipated, ghostly bang. “A world built by the hands of men is destined for destruction by those very hands. I don’t need to prove that to you. Turn on your television, scroll on your phone and see for yourself the consequences of a reality constructed to bring a cruel patriarchal agenda to life,” the show notes read. 

What prevailed was a limbo state of divine femininity caught in purgatory – a lively beauty straddling death as models walked, thrusted and jolted around the centre of the church. Led by Hari Nef, corsetage was combined with reconfigured shirts and blazers that hung around the waist rather than the torso. Transparent sheer veiled the models faces and bodies, contrasted with monochromatic separates that eclipsed the ethereal and whimsical looks that slunk into the shadows. Laced-up leather looks on both the upper and lower parts of the body combatted the dark bridal essences with desire and lust. Much like the last time Dilara presented a collection, the pièce de resistance came in the form of repurposed metal. Last time we saw the now eternally iconic knife dress, this time it was a headpiece that held the key (literally), with what seemed like hundreds of repurposed, glistening silver keys hanging off the head like individual strands of hair. Knocking any concerns about affordability or wearability out of the conversation, the British-Turkish designer also displayed a collection of sportswear inspired pieces, red and black Dilara-branded scarves and the like. Ry Gavin

Conner Ives’ swan lake 

There’s one designer out there right now who seems to be the cornerstone of what ‘It Girl’ really means. And that’s Conner Ives’. Not only did It Girl herself Alex Consani open for Ives AW24 show, but each and every look commanded the attention and status that a label like It Girl requires. 

In a grand ballroom of the Savoy Hotel on the Strand, Ives’ AW24 show was a delve into the beauty, delicacy but danger of Swans. This season, the designer moved away from the archetypes he had been exploring and instead focussed on the women who inspired him, both through family and friendship. A Truman Capote quote introduced the show notes: “Actually, I think friendship and love are exactly the same thing.” 

Ives’ latest collection was an elevation on the past. Stepping out of the NEWGEN space and into the soft blue of the Savoy, with golden mirrors and chandeliers adorning the walls and ceilings, the designer’s pieces matched the elegance suitable for London’s high society, whilst boasting a profoundly contemporary artery running throughout. His commitment to sustainability and repurposing materials rang true again, collecting materials and tools for designs from the floors of his studio and eBay purchases, as well as sculpting a silk bubble dress out of a wall tapestry from the Qing Dynasty. 

It seems, right now, that anything that Ives touches becomes the ‘It’ thing. More of the same, please, Conner!

WritersHUNGER Team