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From Simone Rocha to JW Anderson, Corina Gaffey shares her London Fashion Week highlights

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by Corina Gaffey
27th Sep 2023

After a week going from fashion show to fashion show, stylist to the stars Corina Gaffey takes us through the standout moments from Irish designers at London Fashion Week 2023.

Come September, fashion month is in full swing, with the style merry-go-round and fash-pack, travelling to New York, London, and Milan before finally landing in Paris this week. Last week was London’s turn on the fashion calendar, hosting shows across the city with style big hitters, including Burberry, 16 Arlington and Roksanda, and fresh, emerging designers like Ahluwalia, Frolov and Tolu Coker. But, Irish creativity was, too, at the fore at London Fashion Week. Homegrown talent was bountiful this season, from designers showcasing like Simone Rocha to Sinead O’Dwyer to behind-the-scenes with Irish stylists putting together the looks for the runways. 

With a collection entitled Il Giardino (The Garden), Paul Costelloe kicked off proceedings on the first day, aptly located in the Royal Horticultural Halls. Models emerged from an illustrated backdrop in a series of looks ideal for al fresco soirees. Clutching croquet and tennis racquets, they walked the catwalks kitted out in deck chair linen stripes, preppy knitwear, and wide-leg high-waisted trousers. Pretty dresses were plentiful, with flower garden party styles a given, but marbled gossamer silk and cream lace drop-waist styles were some of the highlights. 

Subverting the ‘florals for spring narrative’, Simone Rocha put forward her own distinct version of bloom-tinged dresses by gathering bunches of roses underneath tulle and manipulating fabrics to recreate 3D flowers. But it wasn’t just floral dresses that Rocha made covetable and cool; she also gave Crocs a fashion-girl makeover, embellishing them with pearls, crystal and jet beading that will undoubtedly be a cult item come spring. 

JW Anderson SS24. Photo by catwalkpix.

Also added to the fashion pack’s spring wish lists was JW Anderson’s feather-lined oversized parka coats that sat among a cross-section of wearable basics with optical illusioned styles. Always one to play with proportions and fabrics, Anderson leaned into a nostalgic and youthful sensibility by moulding hoodies and shorts from plasticine. Show notes said the collection was about “putting playfulness in pragmatism and putting pragmatism in playfulness.” Anderson came to play but didn’t stop at clay, showing puffed-up padded vinyl pieces like cargo trousers and t-shirts in shades of electric blue and mandarin. 

Returning to Fashion East for a third season, Standing Ground’s Michael Stewart presented his signature evening gowns with a collection inspired by ancient seas and his home turf. Models emerged on the runway with sleek, wet-look hair and statuesque floor-skimming dresses in moss green and powder blue. Stewart’s sculptural flair, elegant draping, subtle beading and use of sumptuous fabrics proved he is the go-to for modern glamour and eveningwear. 

Richard Quinn PAP SS 2024 London September 2023

Putting the capital G in Glamour was Richard Quinn. He staged a theatrical show that featured a men’s choir, a backdrop of fresh flowers, and an Irish dance performance, all in tribute to his late father, Patrick, who passed away in June. Couture-level gown after gown emerged on the runway, running the gamut of tulle creations to birdcage silhouettes, delicate floral embroidery and decadent embellishment. 

Making her mark on LFW once more was Sinead O’Dwyer, who shunned the typical straight-forward show style and returned to school. Well, college, to be exact – the Royal College of Art, where O’Dwyer studied. Hosting a Q&A style show entitled Assembly, models weaved through the classroom as O’Dwyer discussed her experiences. For the collection, she dove back into her Irish rural teenage-dom for inspiration while exploring after-school dressing rituals. Gabardine, shirting, and her signature knit were combined as she paid homage to her Killina Secondary School uniform – all while challenging sample size design and championing body diversity. 

But the Irish weren’t just represented on the designer schedule; backstage was a hotbed of homegrown talent as leading Irish stylists put their spin on catwalk looks. Brian Conway styled Greek designer Di Petsa’s ss24 show. Known for their distinctive wet-look clothing, Conway worked on the immersive show, entitled Reflections of Venus, with the designer herself taking the catwalk in a gilded number which set the scene for the rest of the water-inspired collection. Celebrating love, her size-inclusive dresses came in bronze, black, white and pastel shades.

Elsewhere, Celestine Cooney was on hand to style Ukrainian designer Masha Popova’s monster truck-inspired collection. A collection dominated by denim, Popova’s signature, engines roared as models in various distressed, 90s-esque, frayed, and patchwork denim stormed the runway full throttle.

Feature collage: catwalkpix

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