The Genteel
March 7, 2021


Models present ornate creations at the Fyodor Golan A/W 2013 collection show during London Fashion Week on February 15, 2013. Photograph by Suzanne Plunkett / Reuters.
The final walk at Zoe Jordan A/W 2013.

For weeks, constant snowfall (the real kind, not Chanel's S/S 2012 runway offering) threatened to envelop London Fashion Week A/W 2013 in a wintery white coat. It was with some surprise, then, that fashion-goers queued for Zoe Jordan's opening show under a canvas of sunshine and blue skies.

With some reluctance, designers and journalists had come to accept that LFW had lost much of its reputation over recent years. Hoards of talented emerging designers have started out in London, yet with success under their wings, many - including Alexander McQueen and Victoria Beckham - have flown the nest in favour of showing their collections in Paris, Milan or New York. Lacking association with heavyweight brands, and with the country plodding through recession, the British fashion industry was perched on tenuous ground; but this season, it has fought back.

After a five-day push of theatrical shows (most notably, with Edeline Lee on Day Five), directional trends, luxurious venues and after parties in abundance, 2013 seems to be the year that LFW can finally shake its tail feathers in triumph. This season, LFW was taking itself seriously; like proud parents watching on, journalists and bloggers alike witnessed it spring into adulthood and move away from the plastic chairs and whimsical silliness of previous seasons.

Pushing aside a grungy punk aesthetic in favour of a grown-up interpretation of glamour, emerging designers showcased their collections with grit, determination and gung-ho; bigger brands reminded us why their status had originally been earned. Although a hint of snobbery and elitism remained throughout the week, multimedia was embraced, particularly with the digital media Topshop x Google collaboration. Talent was at an all-time high, and suddenly it seemed as though the 18th-century cobbled courtyard of Somerset House (the long-term headquarters of LFW) was where the fashion industry was heading.

Ornate headpieces at Fyodor Golan A/W 2013. 
Photograph by Suzanne Plunkett / Reuters. 

Zoe Jordan kicked off proceedings on Day One. Entering the BFC [British Fashion Council] Showcase tent, guests were presented with a glass of champagne and VIP reception before taking their seats alongside the runway - grey felt goodie bags (seen on multitudes of arms throughout the day) lurking underfoot. An illustration of a slender model in a burst of orange hinted at things to come. 

Jordan studied architecture before working as an investment banker in New York for several years. She spent her childhood immersed in a world of fast cars thanks to her father Eddie Jordan (former Irish F1 racing driver). And Jordan unquestionably knew how to get the ball rolling with a bang. A largely monochrome collection strutted down the catwalk with bursts of citrus hues breaking through. Polished androgyny sat alongside sculptured architectural tailoring, while chequered, gold metallic and crocodile skin-effect fabric stole the show. It's hard to believe that Jordan is relatively new on the fashion scene, having launched back in S/S 2012.

Bora Aksu, who describes his signature style as "romantic with a darker twist," continued with the monochrome theme, pushing it further than the simplified designs seen last season. His packed show (most standing tickets were turned away at the door) saw the waist become a significant talking point as laced corsets cinched in models' barely-there torsos to Victorian standards. Scalloped beadwork, olive grey and navy leather, schoolgirl ties, black tights, ankle boots, defined shoulders and intricate headpieces gave a strong indication of things to watch out for in the coming year.

Mary Katrantzou A/W 2013.

Fyodor Golan launched its ethereal "Belle De Jour" collection (inspired by Luis Bunuel's 1967 film of the same name) in the ballroom at the exclusive Savoy Hotel. Once again, luxury and opulence sung the day's tune; the monochrome palette with bursts of orange and navy was a pattern - you may notice - that became rapidly apparent. Large ascot-envy hats obscured models' faces, while dark lips and grungy chokers hinted towards a sense of the original "London Look".

Before long, bags were being grabbed and taxis flagged down as bloggers, journalists and buyers all headed to the Jena.Theo presentation in the intimate Portico rooms at Somerset House. The brand's concept was to take classic silhouettes but evolve them into something more abstract. "We've worked on a beautiful floral design which is a new direction for us. We're continuing to challenge preconceptions in nature and looking at a subject matter that at first glance seems vibrant and beautiful, but on closer inspection, has a darker edge," designers Jenny Holmes and Dimitris Theocharidis explained beforehand. Sharp pink and yellow accents dominated the short runway; black patterns dribbled carelessly down an assortment of designs, while other bold pieces offered themselves in floral tribute.

Liquid-like leather in deep plum shades and plastic coats with skin-like qualities floated down the catwalk for Felder Felder; a catalogue of black ensembles dominated the show. Sheer fabric married seamlessly with texture, while trilby hats added a touch of morning-after nonchalance to an otherwise serious endeavour. A strong sense of the English gentleman dominated.

Avenue 32 concluded the day with Champagne and Chocolate Afternoon Tea at The Penthouse Suite in the Grosvenor House Apartments by Jumeirah Living; breathtaking sunset views over the fast-paced city reminded guests of what was at the heart of this fashion week. Melt-in-your-mouth chocolates, fruit-filled cocktails and racks of clothes sat alongside exciting textures, patterns, cuts and concepts from Alexander Lewis, Barbara Casasola, Svek, Michaela Buerger, Crippen and Priory of Ten.

Tom Ford A/W 2013.

Rihanna set Twitter on fire with her 120-piece collection for River Island, launched on Day Two. Her celebrity status created a stir; yet the tightly fitted rock chick styling aesthetic of her first catwalk show, presented to the A$AP Rocky soundtrack, offered little in the way of surprise. The clothes were not what the show was all about, however. It was the attitude, the influence, the swagger; all qualities that make her accessible and appealing to a younger demographic.

Although Mary Katrantzou seemed to move towards a much darker aesthetic than in previous seasons, photographic city landscapes with hints of colour reminded us of the key role played by architecture this season; an apt trend to be presented in such a historic city, filled with some of the world's most renowned buildings. Mulberry, under the tight reigns of Creative Director Emma Hill, kept true to its distinctly British heritage; chequered fabrics, tweeds, tailored trousers and autumnal hues were consistent throughout.

The largest talking point of the entire week, however, was Tom Ford. It was never going to be a quiet affair, given that it was his first full catwalk in London under his title brand. Held within the prestigious confines of Lancaster House, the show's front row attracted A-list names ranging from Anna Wintour to Justin Timberlake, while 100 no-expense-spared male models served champagne to enraptured guests. The clothes presented were in a league of their own; explosions of sequined patterns, outrageous combinations of bright hues, luxurious fur collars, and a complicated network of patterns all dominated; a monochrome palette created a sense of grounding, and hinted back to the emerging trends. The message was clear from this show, as well as from those before and after; the fashion industry is back in town, and the big brands have come out to play.



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