London Fashion Week: Day Five, from Emma Hamilton to Frantz Fanon
London Fashion Week’s quietest ever edition continued Monday, bereft of foreign editors and largely restricted to video displays. A season full of historical references; retro ideas; odd wee films and even powerful call for respect for immigrants in a UK, where the popular press have begun reporting from the south coast of England as if it were the scene of a foreign invasion.
Erdem: Emma Hamilton at her best
A beautiful natural setting for Erdem, two long lines of oaks trees deep inside Epping Forest, and the latest instalment of the designer’s haute aristocratic romanticism, albeit with tragic undertones.
Referencing the complicated love triangle in 18th century Naples between Emma Hamilton, her husband, the British consul Sir William Hamilton, and the legendary Horatio Nelson, captured in Susan Sontag’s novel The Volcano Lover.
Hence Emma Hamilton in the Bourbon court of Naples, attired in Directoire high-waisted
dresses; Grecian goddess silhouettes; gentile drapery; and simple light-weight chemises thrown over the shoulder. Hair worn loose; pearls in their ears; ribbons flowing from many collars and lapels; bows jutting out, the cast strolled confidently down the avenue of tress. The Ancien Régime being overthrown by revolutionary ideas in an utterly charming collection.
“Emma Hamilton… is a character of great gumption, who started life as the daughter of a Cheshire blacksmith and rose to become a powerful political player. In the shadow of the volcano, she is a force to be reckoned with. Unrelenting in the face of adversity, she carved opportunity out of misfortune, purpose from insecurity, passion from chaos. How might we do likewise?” muses Erdem Moralioglu in his program notes, speaking to our current need for passionate heroines.
“Limitations can be liberating. Working remotely for this collection we reacted spontaneously. We were instinctive,” opined Victoria Beckham, perched on a massive patchwork quilt sofa inside a London art gallery.
Insisting the key word this season was “eclectic,” Beckham showed a very varied series of looks - oversized mat khaki or lime parkas; gathered floor length dresses; crisp career-gal blazers; perfectly cut cricket jackets; classy asymmetric mannish shirts; leopard print coats; and mega flared pants. All finished with huge chain necklaces with square and round pendants; and completed by new natty nerdy eyewear in a collection of just 21 looks.
Instead of marching past the usual quotient of VIPs; hubby David and assembled family, the cast strolled between works of art inside the Victoria Miro art gallery in Mayfair. Which, curiously, was pretty liberating too.
JW Anderson: Shopping with Harry and Emma
Rather than a show, or presentation this was just a very odd shopping expedition in Soho, where Harry Lambert and Emma Corrin, after coffees, did a tour around the Northern Irish designer’s central London store. Endlessly describing bags, flight jackets, and coats as “really cute” or “it’s so sick” or “insane.” Yes, not exactly a fashion tutorial. Before, Anderson appears in a brief cameo and the pair wrap up a few purchases. Quite what the point of the exercise was was hard to work out. But at least, a blurb informed viewers that Anderson will show another video next Monday where he will properly premiere his spring-summer 2021 collection.
Osman Yousefzada: Frantz Fanon fashion
A feminist and full-forced take on Black Lives Matter from Osman Yousefzada, the talented designer son of a Muslim Pashtun family that moved to Birmingham.
“My bindis, locks and traditional frock. More than a fashion statement. More than appropriated symbols of identity. More than part adornment of privilege. They are symbols of my survival. You have a history of theft, taking from us, putting us on ships; shackling our hearts and splendor, enslaving us for your profit,” intones the narrator Makayla Ford, a lone drum slowly beating in the background.
Beauties of many colors marched and twisted around wild UK beaches, or forgotten airfields. Intercut with images of protest by feminists, Labour Party activists, or immigrants queuing for passports. Dressed in flowing robes in cerulean blue; hand-dyed shawls; white puckered gowns; studded leather bustiers; or mannish cotton double-breasted jackets. All fitted out with rich Rajasthan jewelry, large earring loops, abundant necklaces – made by artisanal communities in India and Pakistan.
Fashion as a call for tolerance, and the rallying cry for justice in an impressive collection. Frantz Fanon fashion, and a video entitled Here to Stay, the chant of Osman’s older relatives in the '80s when they fought against police brutality and for equal access to education.
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