Fashion Review: In a Fragile City, London Fashion Week Keeps Calm and Carries On
It lent a bit of backbone without sacrificing Ms. Goddard’s cheerful levity. In a time of deadly seriousness, you can go leaden or you can go light. That spirit animated several of the initial London collections, which did more with less.
Jonathan Anderson (J.W. on his label) is one of the city’s thinkiest designers, sometimes to his detriment: He makes merry mashing up disparate elements, which sometimes resolve themselves and sometimes don’t, as he opines for those who arrive to cover his collections on their philosophical underpinnings in paragraph-length soliloquies. But his process is one of wax and wane, and this season, he was in a pared-back mode, one that felt right.
He spoke of keeping the collection grounded, and it literally was — nearly every look was shown with a flat pair of sneaker-boots. But it was grounded, too, in its fabrics and shapes. There were some nods to his customary esotericism, like the stitched bra-cup details on many of the looks, but the loose dresses, flared skirts and baggy trousers had a casual ease and a strength in their simplicity — all the more so given that the reigning trend in fashion is for over-the-top magpie magnificence. Mr. Anderson estimated that 80 percent of the collection came in sweatshirt jersey; the loose pants and tops that bore his J.W. Anderson logo were made at an Irish factory that produces tea towels.
“I think sometimes you have to take off the veneer and go back to basics,” he said. “Go back to things that you know and things that you can use.”
In place of his usual show setting, with tight rows and claustrophobic intensity, Mr. Anderson knocked down the walls and set his models walking in the round. “Everything comes back ’round,” he said. “No matter how hysterical things become, everything will always come ’round.”
Things had become hysterical at Burberry, the last major show Saturday, which found anti-fur activists outside its doors screaming “Shame!” as staff members greeted guests with rictus grins and durable British politesse. (Actually, with the exception of some shearling pieces, all the fur in the collection was faux.) Christopher Bailey, Burberry’s chief creative officer, had wanted to be “a bit more honest, a bit less polished,” he said, and it seemed, inadvertently, that he had gotten his wish.
But everything had come back ’round again, too. Mr. Bailey staged the show in a former courthouse, alongside an exhibition showcasing more than 30 photographers, a glass held up to the British national character called “Here We Are.” (Curated by Mr. Bailey; Lucy Kumara Moore, director of Claire de Rouen Books and the photographer Alasdair McLellan, it will be open to the public until Oct. 1.)
“Here We Are” spans classes and eras — Tatlerite society portraits by Dafydd Jones alongside working-class Mancunians by Shirley Baker — and so, too, does Burberry, whose checks have been embraced by c and peers alike. That’s a point Mr. Bailey seemed keen to underline.
Throughout the 20th century, Burberry has been there. If it has lost its way a bit lately, one photographer in particular seemed to point to a possible new direction: Gosha Rubchinskiy, whose wildly popular collections have inspired envy in brands across the industry. Mr. Rubchinskiy shot his own portraits of his broody skater types in the Burberry collection, and his influence seemed to extend to the styling of the show itself, which was more contemporary and less fussy than it sometimes has been. (Mr. Rubchinskiy and Burberry also collaborated on several pieces, which had their debut in Mr. Rubchinskiy’s show in St. Petersburg, Russia, in June.)
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