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When it comes to global fashion influence, is London still calling? There are glimmers for sure, especially with a group of emerging female designers who know what they want—and are banking on the world’s style set going the distance for their unique looks, too—even in the face of dismal current events.
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Chopova Lowena’s Banger of a Debut
You’ve seen them around—the kids in the floral kilt skirts with steel hardware, stomping and clanking their way between acting punk and being pretty. Harry Styles does it. Olivia Rodrigo does it. And to open London Fashion Week, 39 models did it too, wearing bored expressions and brave, beautiful prints, all smashed together like junior year cliques at a packed basement concert. That’s not just conjecture, BTW—Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena pulled in lacrosse players, heavy metal musicians, and art school kids this season, along with huge hoodies and tiny cardigans to flank their velvet peasant dresses and signature kilts. But can a brand still be “underground” now that everybody wants to wear them? Stay tuned.
Milly Alcock at 16Arlington
Yeah, the bejeweled knitwear was cool, but honestly, the best advertisement for this brand was House Targaryen’s Milly Alcock sitting front row in the label’s long black leather trench and sheer black top. She looked like a baby Annette Bening, and the rest of us will be chasing this unicorn of a look for years.
The Fabric Scrap Tartan at Vivienne Westwood
Look closely at these new pieces, and you may notice the phrase “Born to Rewild” embroidered on the sides. It’s a reference to the U.K.’s fervent embrace of “rewilding,” where lands like golf courses are “given back” to nature, allowing suppressed ecosystems to return to their original sites. (Want to try it? Start by leaving a “weeds”-like clover on your front lawn!) Westwood is helping to fund the effort, and you can help her out by only buying clothes you’ll commit to wear forever, instead of just a few seasons. (The tartan heart-shaped corset and royal navy minidress come to mind.)
Plastic Skeletons at Christopher Kane
It’s been a solid five years since “the going-out top” became just a corset or bra. But when we literally steel ourselves for fashion, what happens to our core muscles—and our core values about beauty? Christopher Kane is ready to discuss. He built PVC corsetry that turned lingerie into a science experiment, with see-through stays and painted veins to emphasize the creepy, fascinating way that style bends our skeletons. He also had a cozy dose of oversized knitwear and wowzer cutaway Chelsea boots, because sometimes, we just wanna get dressed and feel cool without having to think about it.
KNWLS’ Riff on Penny Lane
Speaking of corsetry, it was cool to see the KNWLS team relax their signature bodices and lean into something that straddled ’90s rave staples and ’70s concert coats. Did we own a similar ‘fit from Contempo Casuals circa 1998? Absolutely—but KNWLS is doing it with investment materials that will make this look last for our daughters, too.
Rejina Pyo’s Working Woman
Rejina Pyo is a talented, ambitious woman who builds clothes for other talented, ambitious women. Her collection screamed “soft power,” with clingy knits and oversized blazers made for the work-from-home wardrobes of investment bankers and gallery directors alike. (Like, Yasmin from Industry totally wears Rejina Pyo, right?) The show was great on the whole, but our favorite look was Pyo’s own cream suit at the end, because hey, she’s a business woman doing business things, and she makes it look easy.
Chet Lo Stretching Himself
He’s famous for those soft-and-spiky popcorn dresses, but this season, Chet Lo flattened out his silhouette with stretchy knitwear that’s warm enough for winter, but hot enough for date night, especially with a great tall boot. Dig in!
The Broken Doll at Dilara Findikoglu
The slip-dress-and-emo-tee has gotten tired, but Dilara Findikoglu made it magical by having a look that literally comes apart at the seams. Sad girl fall? We’re actually into it now.
“Can I live?” Actually, in Toga’s clothes, you can. Sure, the Japan-to-London label is coveted by stylists and stylish people worldwide because it’s fashion that lets you breathe, and still looks cool as hell. To prove it, designer Yasuko Furuta staged her spring 2023 show on some couches and let the models (and the looks) lean all the way back.
*The* Skirt at Molly Goddard
Ever since Bottega Veneta showed its leather-and-tulle ball skirt on the fall 2022 runway, we’ve wondered if the silhouette was a one-off, or if another piece could carry the trend even further. Molly Goddard did it in London with this purple-pink frock, which moves like seafoam on the body, and looks like the dream outfit of every little girl come to life. With the red peplum top, it’s a modern idea for a major night out. Basically, yeah, we’re in love.
The Grown-Ups Table at Erdem
After 20 years of being a legal adult, I’ve only recently realized that dressing like one is, in fact, a source of strength. Enter Erdem, the elegant and restrained British hero label for floral circle skirts, lace-paneled gowns, and reliably ornate embroidery on simple cotton sheaths. Designer Erdem Moralioglu has frequently (and masterfully) referenced Queen Elizabeth II’s jazz-adjacent dancing days with black sequins and yellow roses. This time, he kept the floral tributes, but added fluttering ribbons that looked like garments rendered in mourning, or the grosgrain black strips worn at a Jewish shiva call. Capped by black-and-white veils and anchored by black polished brogues—basically the “stiff upper lip” of footwear—the show, as styled by Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, was respectful while still being great. In other words, the work of adults.
The ‘Air Flowers’ at Susan Fang
Susan Fang’s runway dresses seem to float like paper kites down the catwalk, and here’s why: the designer takes pieces of gauze, dyes the strips, folds them by hand, and then arranges them into 3D “air prints”—essentially, tiny fabric stacks—and “air flowers” made from swirls of her custom material. The technique was on full display at her London Fashion Week debut, which sparked some “oooh” moments, as well as an “aww”: It turns out the fantastical floral scribbles on some of Fang’s clothes were drawn by her mom, who mailed the sketches to her daughter from Shanghai! (Pen pals, but make it fashion.)
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