Fashion / Style

London Fashion Week Proves It’s Still the Best Fashion Week With Edgy, Gender Neutral Looks

Standing Out With Creativity

BY // 02.25.21

Even with the continued COVID lockdown and the Brexit mess making fashion exports problematic from Great Britain, London Fashion Week managed to stand out as it went gender neutral for the first time and proved it once again outpaces the other major fashion cities in terms of creativity and experimentation.

Nearly 100 designers unveiled their collections in an all-digital format and many took the opportunity to push the fashion envelope, blurring the lines between menswear and womenswear and featuring unisex clothing that can be worn at home or out-and-about once the pandemic is under control.

On the first day of London Fashion Week, the most extreme example came from Harris Reed, a British-American designer who is “fighting for the beauty of fluidity,” according to his website. Reed, best known as the designer who put Harry Styles in a dress on the cover of Vogue, presented a small collection of menswear tuxedos mixed with flowing feminine tulle skirts that drew a lot of attention.

In his program notes, Harris writes that he is “looking to the horizon, facing the unknown with a rebel streak and allowing for space, growth and exploration in this current moment. Whatever comes next, comes next. For now, this is how it exists.”

Creative director Ricardo Tisci staged a stand-alone men’s show for the first time at Burberry and put a new spin on traditional menswear looks with pleated kilt-like “man-skirts” and shirt dresses layered under trench coats and letter jackets — some with the sleeves lopped off.

“I grew up with nine women around me, and I’ve always been obsessed with the idea of men playing with women’s wardrobes,” he tells Women’s Wear Daily.

River Oaks District

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Harris Reed at London Fashion Week
Harris Reed tuxedo with tulle inset. (Photo courtesy of Harris Reed)

Tisci also showcased blanket-like duffle coats, shirts trimmed in faux fur and wool caps with top knots like bunny ears, and offered a new take on the classic Burberry trench, with a collarless V-neck trench coat and another style with a fringe hem and a silk scarf belt cinched at the waist.

Vivienne Westwood, who has long combined gender neutral dressing in a punk/Victorian mashup, offered such looks as velvet cargo pants, menswear check overcoats, and floral shirts that men or women could wear. Ninety percent of the new collection was made “from materials that have a reduced impact on our environment,” Westwood said in a press release, including a printed denim made with an organic, undyed cotton base, recycled nylon and polyester, and organic silk.

Molly Goddard‘s fall collection featured her signature dresses in frothy tulle, including one strapless black and teal bubble dress worn over a pale blue underskirt that took a day and a half to make with more than 14 yards of tulle. But she also mixed in a number of menswear looks, including a red tartan kilt, unstructured suits, and unisex Fair Isle sweaters.

Clothes With Swagger

There’s a “Rock Swagger” to Temperley London‘s fall collection, with an array of pantsuits in velvet, corduroy and jersey, along with dresses in trippy psychedelic prints and statement leather jackets, including one with firework embellishment on the back. The label’s founder Alice Temperley also introduced  a hooded sweatshirt with the brand logo that can be worn by either sex.

An edgy attitude also permeated Simone Rocha‘s collection, which celebrates punk femininity by mixing embroidered pink taffeta with black leather and featuring oversized coats with 3-D satin flowers and pearl-laced combat boots. Rocha said her designs are meant for “fragile rebels,” but any young woman with spirit is likely to be drawn to the designer’s unique vision.

Simone Rocha at London Fashion Week
Simone Rocha black leather moto jacket with puff sleeves, tulle short skirt. (Photo courtesy of Simone Rocha)

For the new Erdem collection, designer Erdem Moralioglu’s veered between dressing up and dressing down based on the difference between the basics a ballerina wears to practice and the ornate costumes she appears in to perform onstage. The collection ranges from ornately jeweled blouses and voluminous feather skirts to simple gray cardigans, ribbed knit leggings and pleated dresses.

While Emilia Wickstead offered a number of classic, ladylike looks based on three of her favorite films (Teorema, I Am Love, and the Alfred Hitchcock classic Rear Window), she introduced a modern interpretation of evening wear made from traditional lightweight wool fabric usually used by tailors to construct suits. She was no doubt inspired by pandemic life as the fabric is soft and designed to be comfortable.

In several designs, Wickstead incorporated a wrap that can be thrown over the shoulder like a blanket or draped over the head. It’s an elegant but pared-down look that can be used to make a dramatic entrance when a person enters a room — or appears virtually on Zoom, which seems just right for the times, doesn’t it?

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