London Fashion Week day one roundup: Ashley Williams, Ryan Lo and more

There’s no scene quite like the hubbub of fashion week: window-tinted Mercs plastered with magazine titles park like glossy beetles all over pavements, black cabs honk in frustration as roads are invaded by hordes of dressed-to-the-nines people paying no heed to the traffic; shouting paparazzi dressed all in black flash DSLRs to capture the perfect candid snap. 

While most people see September as a return to school, to normality, to structure, the fashion world sees a rebirth of a different kind. Yesterday marked the beginning of five days of catwalk shows by over 80 designers who will be showcasing their collections for spring/summer 2019 to press, buyers, photographers and influencers.

This season is set to be one for the history books. For the first time, the British Fashion Council has declared London Fashion Week fur-free. Not a single designer on the schedule will show fur, making London the first of the big four fashion cities (New York, Paris, Milan), to shun the controversial fabric. 

The city will also welcome Victoria Beckham’s eponymous label to the London catwalks for the first time (something which has always baffled the British press, for a brand whose entire output is London-based), to celebrate 10 years of success; Alexa Chung will hold her first ever catwalk show for her namesake brand and Burberry’s new creative director, Riccardo Tisci will be showing his new vision for a heritage fashion house. 

The week also promises several see-now-buy-now collections from designers, that will allow the ever-impatient Instagram generation to buy products straight from the runways (who said fashion week wasn’t relevant to us laypeople?) 

Behold the biggest and the best shows from the first day of LFW SS19.

Ryan Lo

Saturn returns! is the name of Ryan Lo’s SS19 ready-to-wear collection. It felt more like the Wizard of Oz had returned as models walked the runway dressed in supersized red and pink witches hats designed by legendary milliner, Stephen Jones, carrying gilded broomsticks. There was even a tin man upon the arm of one model. 

But behind the fairy tale accessories was a collection of wearable spring pieces, designed with the consumer in mind. 

A palette of pastel pinks, lilacs and creams saw button-front, Peter Pan-collared tea dresses, tulle skirts, embellished tops and floral trousers paired with pointed court shoes or calf-length boots. 

Patterns included florals (for spring? groundbreaking), little red polka dots and puff sleeves off-set by vixen-sharp scarlet manicures by Marian Newman. 

Models walked slowly to ethereal music at old publishing centre, Stationer’s Hall, down catwalks so thin they were close enough to touch. In fact, fashion journalist Hillary Alexander even did, at one point, give in to temptation and reach out to stroke a feathered pom-pom on the arm of an unsuspecting model. 

Clothes so good you can’t resist but grab at them? Now there’s something. 

Bora Aksu

Aksu delivers a whirlwind of colour, from soft pastels to stark white and deep navy (EPA)

A designer that’s developed a distinct signature over the years, Bora Aksu’s collections are habitually feminine but with a dark twist – and this season was no different.

For spring/summer 2019, Aksu mused on his fascination with Bronislawa Wajs, otherwise known as Papusza, a Romani poetess who formed a band during the second world war and has long been regarded a traitor by the Roma community,

Papusza’s colourful life served as serious outfit inspiration for the Turkish-born designer. 

A whirlwind of colour gradating, from soft pastels to stark white and deep navy, reflected the poets colourful life, while the mix of soft girlish fabrics – think layers upon layers of tulle – and structured shapes mimicked the perfect representation of her character. 

From capes made of organza to rolling ribbons and embroidered cut out lace patterns, much of the detailing, which was inspired by the nomadic gypsy lifestyle, created a real ethereal feel.

But, it was the hand embroidered needlework flowers which adorned the knitted head pieces created by Liria Pristine that really saturated the collection with drama.

Pam Hogg

This show was Hogg at her finest and her most fierce (Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

A prime contender for the wildest show of London Fashion Week, (Yes, even on day one) Pam Hogg embraced her illustrious, non-conformist attitude for another show stopping runway this season.

Before the show even started, the bewildering array of names that graced the front row was enough to set the tone. From Rose McGowan to Brooklyn Beckham, Ray Winstone and Melanie Blatt from 1990s girl band All Saints, the front row was a tribute to Hogg’s love of the avant-garde and the market she has carved out for herself.

And then there were the models. Kickstarting the catwalk, Brazilian-British model Alice Dellal appeared wearing little else than padded armbands and brown PVC tape followed by Ellie Rae Winstone (daughter of Ray) wearing gold lame hotpants and drag queen du jour Jodie Harsh, blonde beehive and all.

A designer that’s been at the forefront of bold and outrageous fashion since her heyday in the 1980s, the stand out looks here were a real mish-mash of texture, colour and print.

From bodysuits covered in kaleidoscopic prints to black binbag-esque garb, entire looks fashioned from layers of tulle and sky-high headpieces, this was Hogg at her finest and her most fierce. 

Ashley Williams

Williams reworked vintage shapes with her signature prints and slogans (Reuters)

One of Britain’s most talked about womenswear designers, Ashley Williams is a brand that’s built on London cool-girl vibes and the front row at her show this evening proved it because, yet again, the benches were flooded with Williams’ girl crew from Pixie Geldof to Daisy Lowe.

A brand that’s known for consistently treading the line between good and bad taste, the clothes were true to the designer’s tongue-in-cheek sense of humour.

Doing what she does best, Williams reworked vintage shapes with her signature prints and slogans. 

Everything from Sex and the City-inspired newspaper print dresses to knitted pullovers and halter neck tops came emblazoned with “Retired and loving it”, while her famous sparkly hair pins were given new life with words like witch, virgin, crazy and techno. The magpie effect she has embraced for some time was certainly in full swing, sunglasses and tassel earrings to boot. 

Print-wise, the designer sent out satin shirts which came punch holed with dolphin-shaped cut-outs, skirt suits fashioned from tiger print and tie-dye covering all manner of garb.

Ultimately, it was Williams’s instantly recognisable visual cues and light-hearted referencing that made the show a hit and cemented her place as one of London Fashion Week’s must-sees.  

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