BURO International Editor Lidia Ageeva reports from London Fashion Week SS24 and decrypts the most exciting trends, exhibitions to visit this autumn and the emerging brands to put on your radar asap.
Must-see exhibitions in London
From Gabrielle Chanel’s takeover at the Victoria & Albert Museum and the ode to the rebellious London fashion scene at the Design Museum to the carefully curated ‘On Foot’ exhibition at Offer Waterman Gallery, here is a selection of three shows to see in London this autumn.
Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto
First shown in Paris at Palais Galliera back in 2020, the bestseller exhibition retracing the life and career of Gabrielle Chanel travels to London. Enhanced by more than 100 unique looks, carefully selected by curator Oriole Culleen, the V&A show in South Kensington is split into 10 thematic sections with a focus on fashion, beauty, jewellery and accessories, and spotlights the special links that Coco Chanel always had to the UK. Friends with numerous British aristocrats, the French designer was often invited to the parties in London and had fun enjoying typically British pastimes: some archive photos show her hunting in the company of Sir Winston Churchill at Duke of Westminster’s Scottish Estate (a keen amateur painter, the legendary politician even drew a portrait of her). Her famous little black jackets also come from the UK—fond of Scottish tweed, Gabrielle Chanel sourced the fabric at the local mills. Another anecdote in the beauty section of the exhibition is a hand-written thank you note from Queen Elizabeth II revealing that she was also wearing Mademoiselle’s favourite “invisible accessory”, Chanel No 5. The exhibition is fully booked until Christmas, but there are still some places available for January and February.
Runs until 25 February at Victoria & Albert Museum, Cromwell Rd, London
Rebel: 30 years of London Fashion
This year, the British Fashion Council is celebrating 30 years of its Newgen initiative, supporting young talents—think Jonathan W. Anderson, Erdem Moralioglu, Roksanda Ilinčić, Simone Rocha or Nensi Dojaka, all major headliners of London Fashion Week are alumni of the program. The showcase in the Design Museum in Kensington explores how London became the centre of cutting-edge design talent, retracing the most iconic moments of the local fashion scene and featuring nearly 100 looks from ground-breaking debuts and early collections. Highlights include rare photos from Lee Alexander McQueen’s very first presentation at the Ritz hotel, Bjork’s iconic swan dress by Marjan Pejoski and Harry Styles’ outfit from the Golden video by the LVMH Prize winner Steven Stokey-Daley. And don’t miss out on the backstage Snapchat experience, where you can try on various beauty looks from the shows.
Runs until 11 February at the Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High St, London
On Foot: Curated by JW Anderson at Offer Waterman
It’s not a secret that Jonathan W. Anderson loves art and is a passionate collector. So it seems only natural that Offer Waterman Gallery in Mayfair gave him an opportunity to curate his own art project, mixing his favourite pieces from British artists with some of the silhouettes from his collections for Loewe and his namesake brand. As a bonus, British visual artist Anthea Hamilton teamed up with Anderson to create a limited-edition checked version of the iconic pigeon clutch, which is available to buy at both Offer Waterman and the JW Anderson Soho store.
Runs until 29 October at Offer Waterman, 17 St George Street, London
The new guards of London’s fashion scene
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When Aaron Esh decided to stage his debut show, he knew that he needed to find a place that would feel special, so the sixth floor of the Tate Modern’s Blavatnik Tower was his choice. The Central Saint Martins graduate and this year’s LVMH Prize finalist added womenswear to his collection: the draped dresses, bubbled skirts, and slouchy blouses perfectly compliment his timeless and elegant menswear offering, based on the Savile Row techniques and the energy of the youth.
“I love designing performance wear that feels elegant yet dynamic,” says London-based designer Johanna Parv. A Fashion East program recruit (behind this initiative, industry veteran Lulu Kennedy, who meticulously chooses three emerging talents to present their collections during LFW), Parv is known for her multifunctional feminine dresses, fusing function and chic, that you can actually wear anywhere from dusk till dawn.
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Harri quickly became a London sensation when Sam Smith wore his inflatable latex suit to the Brit Awards earlier this year (the piece is currently on show at the Rebel exhibit at the Design Museum). The playful brand was founded by a 28-year-old Londoner from India, Harikrishnan Keezhathil Surendran Pillai, who showed his SS24 collection, inspired by sculpture and movement, as part of the Newgen program this season.
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A focus on the shoes
Alfredo Piferi’s very first showing at London Fashion Week was one of the highlights—at his extravagant presentation/voguing contest at the Windmill in Soho, we saw his sparkling vegan styles in action (what a night to remember!). Malone Souliers prepared a beautiful showcase at the Italian Embassy to spotlight that all of the feminine and timeless styles are hand-made in Italy. At the same time, Ancuța Sarca showed her vision of urban footwear based on upcycled hybrid styles—pointed-toe sandals and mules crafted from repurposed white leather car seats and handcrafted floral motifs from previous collections’ waste materials. The fruit of an unexpected collaboration between Simone Rocha and Crocs—embellished with the designer’s signature pearls and crystals—is another footwear highlight of the season that everybody will be dreaming of wearing next spring.
Flowers for Spring? Groundbreaking!
The flowers were all around London catwalks. Colourful and arty at Burberry, pop and sexy at David Koma and abstract and poetic at Eudon Choi. Erdem opened his show with gorgeous voluminous opera coats, created in collaboration with Barbour and adorned with his signature flower patterns. Simone Rocha played with the theme of roses in 3D whorls of fabric (she also sealed inside sheer chiffon dresses real, long-stemmed pale pink roses). Frolov incorporated the same flower into his sculpturelike dresses and golden trenches. Susan Fang expanded her dreamy line with eye-catching, bold, futuristic eyewear designs embellished with daisies and forget-me-nots. While Edeline Lee created three-dimensional, rose bodices in gold and vivid blue colours.
Something (light) blue
Light blue was omnipresent on London catwalks. JW Anderson showed draped dresses and puffed tops in baby blue. SRVC, in their debut runway collection, featured an array of trompe l’oeil knits, imitating the texture of blue jeans. Ahluwalia presented soft silk dresses, tops and shirts with an abstract print reminiscent of the cloudless blue skies. Elsewhere, Fashion East recruits Johanna Parv and Standing Ground both showcased statement pastel blue daily wear.
Embrace the indie spirit! Next season, we will be wearing bike jackets —from classic black ones as seen at JW Anderson and Chopova Lowena to sporty motorcycle ones like at David Koma (the designer quotes young Queen Elisabeth II as his inspiration, who was photographed riding a Royal Enfield 250 motorcycle during the military years). Elsewhere, Erdem featured studded vivid green and denim blue versions on his runway, while Simone Rocha presented a cropped jacket in eye-catching silver tones styled with white puffy skirts. All in all, one can never go wrong with a biker jacket.
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