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Sep 19, 2022
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LFW Sunday: Simone Rocha, Erdem, Christopher Kane, David Koma and Rejina Pyo

Sep 19, 2022

Punctuated by calls for moments of reflection at many shows, with front rows of bowed heads, London Fashion Week, nonetheless, had a busy Sunday with over a dozen runway shows.

FashionNetwork.com caught up with this half-dozen: Simone Rocha, Erdem, Christopher Kane, David Koma, and Regina Pro.

Simone Rocha: Makes majestic menswear debut

Simone Rocha debuted her menswear collection on Sunday afternoon inside the Old Bailey, and the jury delivered its judgment immediately - it’s a sensational hit.

Simone Rocha - Spring-Summer2023 - Womenswear - Londres - © PixelFormula

In tears, Rocha took her bow underneath the frescos of Moses the Lawgiver, the applause and cheers echoing up to the soaring cupolas of the Central Criminal Court.

Winning the recognition for her courageous first signature menswear ideas, precisely because she was able to incorporate what is most distinctive about her female fashion aesthetic - romanticism, fantasy and femininity blended with a quirky chic.

Not many designers dress men in tulle veils and pearl key chains and floral earrings. Simone does. Her first men’s passage was a khaki green flight jacket and pants, gathered with flourish and finished with straps, worn by a model with black socks with embroidered petals. Immediately followed by a female in the same fabric cut as a Renaissance frock with giant leg-of-mutton sleeves.

She paired a black nylon track suit finished with vertical zips with a novitate’s soutane. And sent out a creamy jacquard great coat worn over white kilt, floral socks and rolling sole sneakers. Everything accessorised in sympathy with the female ensembles - from pearl trim man bags to sandals overlaid with stress.  

The Irish designer did actually create some men’s look in her capsule collection for H&M a few years back, but this was her first complete menswear collection. A brilliant beginning shown with another impressive women’s wear collection.

Led by floral print oversized flight jackets; mad duchess black parachute silk deconstructed gowns or layered liquid metallic ball dresses. 

Plus, her whole team performed brilliantly. Easily London’s best casting courtesy of Samuel Ellis Scheinman and Piergiorgio Moro; remarkable tarred tresses by hair stylist Cyndia Harvey; fairly scary yet nonetheless cool red glitter eyeliner - for men and women - from Thomas de Kluyver.  And above all Frédéric Sanchez’s magisterially dramatic soundtrack including 'Waste' by Einstürzende Neubauten.

All told, a touching fashion moment on a unique weekend in one of the world’s great capitals.

Erdem: Restored romanticism and conservator cool

​Erdem Moralıoğlu presented his latest show under the colonnades of the British Museum. He got his inspiration for the collection from the textile restoration department within.

Erdem Spring/Summer 2023 collection in London - Erdem

A rather divine display of ladylike finery, whose fabrics were reimagined swatches from the museum’s archives. In case one did not get the message, there was even a fabric copy of a conservation record pinned to one pinafore.

Few designers love a mood board more than Erdem, who papered his latest version with photos of 15th-century Chinese robes and a selection of Dutch old masters. 

Not that there was anything literal about these clothes after the concept had percolated through Erdem’s rich imagination, there emerged a modernist vision. Upcycling not just fabrics, but also the whole tenor of the clothes into a fresh vision of elegance.

That said, Vermeer and Francisco de Zurbarán would have both loved the hipster grandeur of Erdem’s Spring 2023 collection.

The Turkish-Canadian designer even made entire gowns, dresses and trains out of prints of 17th-century etchings. He also worked with conservators in the Tate and the V&A, so the veils that covered half the collection referred to dust covers of their antique garments.

But the Erdem gal is no blushing violet. He likes an assertive female who marches in mannish brogues and single-strap monks, worn under dresses mostly ending at the ankle. Playing with proportions also with diaphanous white crepe skirts worn with white denim bustiers or sending out beautiful floral prints from oil paintings used in puckered long skirts.

All backed up a great remix of orchestral music by Natalie Holt, the first woman to write a Star Wars soundtrack. 

“Obviously, it’s been a unique week here in London, and I tried to address that in my first look. That’s my firm nod to her majesty,” revealed Erdem, who bowed as he made that remark. And opened out a black bar jacket and long skirt finished with fabric roses, and worn under a veil.

David Koma: Aquatic empowerment in Hackney

David Koma stuck to his home-turf for his show, staging his show in a small square beside his East London studio. But he voyaged far into the watery depths for his inspiration.

David Koma - Spring-Summer2023 - Womenswear - Londres - © PixelFormula

Koma will always create for strong women, and this season referenced biologist Sylvia Earle, “an incredible women in a male-dominated field.”

Earle took a team of biologists back in the 70s on deep discovery dives. The result was multiple references to marine mode in the collection: black sequin starfish to cover the breast; an octopus tentacle holding a bra; metallic seashell necklaces. Swirling wave patterns of sequins were sewn onto flesh colored tulle miniature cocktails.  Often he worked in oyster shell iridescent crystal colors. 

The square was the site of the first Shakespeare theatre, marked by a wooden panel inside the building.

“Accidental and natural. A gasoline stain from motor sports meeting an underwater world,” explained Koma, leading to daywear elements - motorbike jackets or denim - overdubbed with neoprene jersey and diving suits.

However, the key to Koma is always sexy fantasy, bodycon clothes with lots of exposed flesh from cut-outs and one-shoulder designs worn by fiercely sexy models marching in iridescent thigh boots.

Sizzle at Shakespeare’s first sighting.

Christopher Kane: Returns to the runway in the Roundhouse

Once considered the enfant terrible and next big thing in London fashion, Christopher Kane has appeared to have lost his way these past few years.

Christopher Kane Spring/Summer 2023 collection in London - Christopher Kane

So, it was a welcome sight to see him return to the runway after a long hiatus with a show in the Roundhouse, north London’s famed musical Mecca. Pre-show, his PR team bombarded editors, buyers and influencers that they should kindly be early for the show, to respect the national minute of silence for the late Queen at 8PM.

However, after several hundred guests duly arrived 20 minutes early, entrance to the event was essentially blocked until 8PM, meaning most people observed the minute standing on Chalk Farm Road.

Post-show, the house issued the following statement: “On behalf of Christopher and Tammy Kane, we send our sincere apologies to anyone who encountered issues entering the show space this evening. This was due to an unforeseen technical issue with the venue which delayed the opening of the doors. Our priority was showing respect for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll, and ensuring our guests were able to honour this special moment. We are deeply sorry if this affected your experience.”

Back on the catwalk, Kane continued his perennial obsession with sex, sending out a lingerie-driven collection. His big idea was pairing silk slips trimmed with lace with plastic bras and bodices, held together with metallic string. Not exactly an eco-statement.

Kane fared better when it came to night, showing some elegantly cut sequinned looks and a couple of really great cocktails in anthracite and silver. Again, however, he finished with contrasting exterior bra cups topped by slits.

Though his quirkiest idea was attaching strips of colourful anatomical and muscular sketches onto evening dresses and party frocks. One could certainly not fault Kane for taking a few risks and trying new ideas. Just perhaps for lacking a unifying aesthetic to his overall oeuvre. 

Rejina Pyo​: Commercial but bland

If you are looking for easy to understand commercial fashion in London, then a good place to start is Rejina Pyo.

Rejina Pyo Spring/Summer 2023 collection in London - Rejina Pyo

Her latest show was staged inside a brand new tower in Old Street, and the clothes were as understated as the modernist building, bland even.

Rejina cuts a clean and coherent pants suits or pearly blue cotton trenches. Plus, she can ruch a chiffon dress with skill. One could imagine quite a lot of women admiring these, to fit in a busy career gal’s wardrobe. 

The problem was the lack of any real news, or indeed direction. Which is not what one comes to London Fashion Week to witness.

Yuhan Wang

The Korean designer dedicated this collection to three famous female pilots, including Amelia Earhart and Lee Ya-Ching, the first woman to be granted a civil aviation license in China. Though it was somewhat hard to imagine any of them contemplating wearing these frilly and frothy clothes.

Yuhan Wang Spring/Summer 2023 collection in London - DR

The aviator reference was clear in the leather barnstormer caps. However, the whole shebang felt fundamentally silly - from the semi-sheer lace suits cut with oversized jodhpurs or belted jackets seen on ungainly lace-up boots. See-through lace mini skirts and white floral stockings looked very odd with bomber jackets printed with carnations.

All told, a bit of a plane crash of collection. 

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