London Fashion Week AW23 – As it happened

As LFW got underway, we're here to update you on all of the shows, looks and trends from the runway.

LFW is back with a bang after last season’s watered-down, no parties allowed (there were some, shhh) rule following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Central Saint Martins alumnus Conner Ives returns to the capital for the season, alongside classmates Chet Lo and Harris Reed. There’s more from queen of tulle Molly Goddard, and no doubt more joyful surprises from JW Anderson – another funfair goldfish dress, perhaps? And there’ll no doubt be more bulbous latex shapes from Harri, fresh off the back of Sam Smith’s Michelin Man-goes-to-first-kink party get-up at this year’s BRIT Awards. But it’s all leading up to one of the most anticipated shows of the season: Burberry’s bounce back at the hands of Bottega Veneta departee Daniel Lee. Stay tuned for London Fashion Week, as it happens.

Bora Aksu joins ‘The Addams Family’

London Fashion Week’s resident time traveller Bora Aksu returned with a tale of two inspirations. In one of Good Enough College’s vast rooms — a space with grandeur always a staple of an Aksu show — looks merged contemporary emo influences with the designer’s penchant for ethereal period dress.

Following Aksu’s previous collection exploring wartime attire from the field, the air and back home, Aksu continued his commitment to looking at the past as a means to dress the present. This time around, the designer examined the attire of two famous outsiders from different points in time and what unites them.

“Aksu takes inspiration from two disparate outsiders separated by time and place but united in their ambitious nonconformity; the troubled artist Edvard Munch and the countercultural symbol that is Wednesday Addams,” the show’s press release said.

And the designer didn’t miss. Streams of models with plaits and plain expressions slunk down the runway to a plucky string rendition of Donovan’s ‘Season of the Witch’. There were monochrome pattern tights, unmissable black bows on heads and around necks, small cat ears, and white demi-couture dresses straight off of the porcelain doll laying (hopefully motionless) in your grandma’s attic.

When Wednesday started to fade away, the outlook inspired by Munch, and Aksu’s recent trip to Le Musée d’Orsay, shone through. “[The designer] was taken in by [Munch’s] self-discipline and steadfastness in the face of scepticism. Munch spent the early days of his creative career mired by constant criticism surrounding the unfinished and overworked look of his art; however, he continued to defend his work and its role in depicting the raw, unfettered reality of human emotion as it reflected his own traumatic upbringing.”

One thing is for certain, as Aksu’s latest body of work was laid bare in the room, the only outsiders were its audience.

Sinéad O’Dwyer’s exploration of romance and hedonism

The first of Friday’s shows started off with Sinéad O’Dwyer’s autobiographical dissection of the Irish term “dùil” — a concoction of desire, longing, fondness and lust.

“Tempering this spirit of teenage hedonism is an interpretation of an aspirational, urbane romance — love as seen on a silver screen, and the garments that are instrumental in conveying it,” the show’s press release stated.

The designer’s second season as a NEWGEN recipient saw further iterations of their debut: box pleated skirts, satin pyjama sets and the like. This time however bodies were encased with shibari-inspired bodysuits, sleeves and leggings contrasted with wool jumpers and biker jackets.

What shone through O’Dwyer’s collection was her further commitment to beautiful people wearing equally beautiful clothes that convey a universal message of lust and attraction. A message that transcends body types, abilities and beyond — all of which constructed a welcome opener to LFW Day one.

Harris Reed gives theatrical LFW opening

If you were ever starting to think that you know what you’re going to get when it comes to a Harris Reed runway show, all that was needed was a spectacle of drama, theatre and shimmering gold to wash away any preconceptions.

Sure, there were the usual suspects; the designer’s staple headpieces, giant halos that double up as portable solar eclipses if you angle it right. But when you take that signature design and whack it on none other than Florence Pugh to kick the show off, then nothing can ever feel same-y.

Back on home ground, the Midsommar, Don’t Worry Darling and Little Women star delivered a monologue all about the possibilities of fashion and the power it has as a mode of performance. “Whether for an actor or simply a performer on the stage of life, the art of dressing up allows us to express who we truly are, creating a safe space to inhabit in a sometimes judgemental world.

Our costumes can change who we want to be seen as and who we are destined to be. I invite you to embrace the lamé and sequins of life, because all the world’s a stage.”

What followed was nothing less than a full theatrical delivery, bursting with exaggerated silhouettes that linger between body curve accentuation and the sometimes eery shadows on the wall in any given 1940s Disney film. Think giant mushroom-shaped top hats and short golden trains following almost unwillingly behind. Merged with cropped tuxedos and cinched tailoring, and 108 metres of salvaged gold lamé curtains, the collection was an endeavour to merge, as Reed stated, ‘the anarchy of the punk movement with Britain’s aristocratic past’.

It was a display of semi-couture looks that continued Reed’s flamboyant unbuckling of binary fashion, and continued to chip away at the defunct rules keeping menswear and womenswear at arm’s length.

WriterRy Gavin