Sep 16, 2022
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A somber London Fashion Week opens with Edward Crutchley, Mark Fast and KNWLS

Sep 16, 2022

A somber London Fashion Week opened Friday in a UK capital of no raised voices with the Queen lying in state, and designers quietly presenting their latest ideas throughout the city.

Edward CrutchleySpring/Summer 2023 - DR

The British Fashion Council had to radically reorganise the whole LFW schedule. There are no shows on Monday 19, a day of national mourning, while major stars like Burberry and Raf Simons are missing from the calendar. 

“This season will fall during the National Mourning period, with all catwalks and presentations paused on Monday 19th September in respect of the Royal Funeral. All parties and events beyond collection presentations and catwalks will be be postponed or scaled back to focus on business. The creative and business fashion community is united to celebrate the Queen's legacy and dedication to creativity and design,” the BFC said in a statement.

Nonetheless, the new six-day show agenda does feature several scores of designer shows and presentations. And, on Friday, three stood out on a surprisingly busy opening day - Edward Crutchley and Mark Fast and KNWLS.

Edward Crutchley: Greek mythology meets aluminium gowns

Edward Crutchley Spring/Summer 2023 - DR

Frilly aluminium cloqué jacquard gowns worn by hairy-legged youths in a dark and dingy carpark in the latest collection by Edward Crutchley, one dedicated to the proposition that fashion must always be about permanent transformation.

In a collection entitled 'The Only Constant in Life is Change,' the collection referenced Heraclitus, and the Greek philosopher’s famous dictum that one does not step into the same river twice.

That’s doubly true of a show by Edward Crutchley, one of the most fertile imaginations in UK fashion, whose opening dress was cut up to the crotch, and finished with bouffant sleeves. Edward later cutting the cloqué into stiff yet wacky drindl skirts; or judo jackets finished with elaborately tied belts in the same fabric.

Crutchley is a deft tailor - seen in the ideally cut cargo pants in elasticated recycled polyester, made in an A.I. inspired abalone print.

Moreover, few designers anywhere today know as much about materials as Crutchley, like his choice of water-effect nylons or super cool meshes with aurora borealis-sequined waves - the latter made into a head-turning dressing-gown-meets-wrap-coat. Many fabrics were fully traceable and conformed to the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) voluntary benchmark, certifying their production through the supply chain. And just as Crutchley breaks boundaries in his materials and silhouette, so he does in his gender-bending aesthetic. With hairy-chested beef cakes appearing in sequined bras.  

“For the last two seasons Crutchley has been gently expanding on a vocabulary of queer glamour. An unapologetic opulence reverberates in his clothes. Here he has taken extravagance - and maximised it. The dial was at seven and now it is at nine,” the brand noted in its program. 

His entire cast of men and women and non-binary youth marching in towering silver and gold holographic platforms cut like getas and paired with white socks, finished with Crutchley’s busy wheel logo. All presented with drama inside the slanted parking garage of Cavendish Square.

Thought-provoking, boundary-demolishing fashion that makes Edward Crutchley an absolute must-see show in London Fashion Week.

Mark Fast:  Bodycon streetwear

Mark Fast Spring/ Summer 2023 - Photo: FashionNetwork.com - DR

Leave it to Mark Fast to deliver a great example of a rich UK tradition; streetwear with a saucy difference. 

Body-con dressing at its boldest, where much of the collection was made up of taut knit mini cocktails. Cut with side-lacing to reveal acres of flesh. Finished with strings and ties, with mitts attached in the same fabrics. Made in vibrant Day-Glo hues of lime, bitter orange and deep violet.

Fast likes to play around with classic street ideas - from Jean Paul Gaultier’s underwear as outerwear to Marc Jacobs' Renaissance-style denim. But each time he gives it his own twist. 

All told, first-rate party gear for your sister, if she is the sort of gal who enjoys late night rave parties starring electronic Belgian DJs like Tour-Maubourg, and basement after-hours clubs where they spin experimental French dance rocker Danny Casseau.

A charming juxtaposition to play Francophile tunes in London this weekend, and ideal music for this show, which also included menswear - from graffiti tops to scrawled-logo shirtings. Plus, Mark made some mean footwear - logo booties, with sport laces; ergonomic wedge sneakers and pumps finished with knit straps.

A very specific vista from a very specific designer on a very specific weekend in London.

KNWLS: Deja-vu damsels

KNWLS - Spring-Summer2023 - Womenswear - Londres - © PixelFormula

The design duo of Charlotte Knowles and partner Alexandre Arsenault, known as KNWLS, chose a concrete shell to present their latest ideas, and the location felt right for this dash of edgy femininity.

Knowles and Arsenault enjoy a jumbled-up aesthetic, throwing paisley, stained chiffon and worn leather into multiple outfits. Body-con and very proud of it, the models looked practically poured into some outfits - so tight the flared jeans, so snug the shirts. The pair favour lots of front- and side-lacing, the better to reveal plenty of skin, and especially tummy. Scrawny Victorian goth-rock fashion at its boldest.

Based in south London, Knowles and Arsenault have also achieved acclaim in Paris, reaching the final of this year’s LVMH Prize.

However, far too often one got the impression of having seen these clothes before. Matter of fact in the collection they presented to the LVMH jury of industry experts.

KNWLS has a strong fashion vision, and a instantly recognisable look, which bodes well for the brand. But as Heraclitus reminds us, change is inevitable in life, and essential in fashion.

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