Opinion: Theatricality Was the Hottest Trend at London Fashion Week

We have all the (British) tea.
Last Updated
Feb 22, 2022

Drama was in the air at London Fashion Week. The Fall/Winter 2022 shows all dabbled in fantasy and theatricality, exploring Victorian-core (Harris Reed), delving into the mythological (Simone Rocha), and scratching our itch for live performance (Erdem). All of this was to the benefit of the clothes, which reflected the post-pandemic craving for pageantry and staginess in our everyday lives. Keep reading to see our UK-based editor’s London Fashion Week retrospective.

In keeping with the theme of drama, is there any more over-the-top way to kick off Fashion Week than with an extratropical cyclone? Upon arrival at the British capital for the second leg of Fashion Month, Storm Eunice greeted the à la mode crowd, bringing enough wind and rain to prompt a city-wide Amber Alert, instructing Londonites to take cover. In spite of it all, showgoers were out in full force, sporting their best and brightest garments come rain, wind, or snow. 

Nensi Dojaka Fall/Winter 2022 (Courtesy of ImaxTree)

The fashion collective's whistle-stop tour began at Harris Reed, aka the designer whose room-commanding hats and ’70s flares count Harry Styles as a fan. Reed kickstarted the week’s festivities with his collection, titled 60 Years a Queen, which was inspired by Sir Herbert Maxwell’s book of the same name. The demi-couture collection brought new, queer life to Victoriana through live performance. Situated on podiums and surrounded by clouds, the collection (which consisted of lace separates, flared trousers, pussy-bow shirts, and platform boots) transported guests to a place where gender binary does not exist—and where Sam Smith is the emcee.

Richard Quinn Fall/Winter 2022 (Courtesy of ImaxTree)

This theatricality became a common theme at London Fashion Week. Steven-Stokey Daley used dance students to showcase his interpretation of residents and workers in a 19th-century English stately home, while Erdem had pianist Annie Yim play as models slowly walked down the runway. One week prior in New York, KHIRY designer Jameel Mohammed sang a heartfelt solo during his presentation. In some sense, this performance-meets-runway approach is the perfect marriage between pre-pandemic catwalks and the highly stylized campaign videos we became accustomed to during it, which weighed production and fashion in equal measure (see: Gucci’s Aria).

Now, for the clothes. British designers dabbled in the fantastical, including Simone Rocha, who presented a collection inspired by the Children of Lir. This theme took the form of crystal embroidery carefully placed around the eyes, enough tulle to send ballet dancers into a frenzy, and chiffon capes that spoke of the forbidden. However, with fantasy comes the question: Is this actually wearable in real life? The answer is yes—all it takes is a few key trends, the kind that still make sense for our reality, while bringing a bit of magic to it.

London Fashion Week
Photo Courtesy Of Gareth Cattermole / BFC / Getty Images

Our trends to watch all adhere to a common theme: bigger is better. From Halpern to Matty Bovan to Richard Quinn, balloon-sleeves and billowing skirts were a common through-line at presentations. Paul Costelloe sought solace in baroque patterns, while Molly Goddard remained true to her pastel colorways. This return to traditional dressing felt appropriate—timed with buzz over Queen Elizabeth’s 70th year on the throne, the notion of antiquity and tradition has been looming large over the London fashion collective.

Speaking of which, we recommended expanding your royal blue assortment sooner, rather than later. Similar to New York Fashion Week, the decadent hue cropped up in accent pieces and chiffon gowns, bringing an air of regality to the wearer. In terms of accessories, it seems our love affair with gloves isn’t over. Whether your tastes are ribbed knit, lace, or even motorcycle (see: David Koma), this fall and winter must-have is a practical way to bring a stylish edge to your look. 

As always, time will be the biggest indicator of what trends shall rise and fall. What’s certain: after two tumultuous years, London Fashion Week proved that glamour and beauty can weather the storm.

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