Of all the recent Fall 2016 fashion weeks, London’s showing was the best. Everything felt so fresh and exciting, bright and whimsical. For coming cold weather collections for Fall and Winter, London sure has a cheery outlook on the upcoming season.
While Ashish excited with his disco elegance and Christopher Kane was windswept and lovely, the one show that kept wowing and wowing and wowing was the sprawling and hopeful presentation from Central Saint Martins. For the unfamiliar, CSM is a London based arts school with a very strong fashion program and has produced stars like John Galliano, Christopher Kane, Stella McCartney, Craig Green, Alexander McQueen, Ricardi Tisci, Giles Deacon, and so many more. It is a factory of fashionable talent.
This year was a clear indication that this new class is all that. While being topical and trendy, retro wandering, and avant garde at the same time, the 144 looks from a handful of designers was engrossing. You had Alexander Krantz’s velvety drape wear and Kiko Kostadinov‘s obscured men. Henriette Tilanus offered polka dotted sea monsters while Ajmal Khan gave lovely drama with oversized men’s classics. It all worked, despite oddity, and pointed to some future fabulousness.
But, of all the offerings, Richard Quinn had the biggest breakout moment. Quinn’s work leans into “cracked couture,” where different eras and styles of classic fashion meet at a mid- left-field. For Fall 2016, Quinn imagined fabric suffocated models who were a zooming in and out of lush materials. There were pastoral florals, a recurring, dainty theme of his, crashed into houndsteeth of different sizes. Over structured metallic blazers fused with mossy velvet. Ginghams were combined with half-lacquered coats. Linen were wet blasted stiff. There was a lot, it all felt new, yet every form was steeped in homage, reaching back to the 1940s.
“It’s about using lots of fabrications in an intelligent and striking way,” Quinn told the T magazine. He discussed his covering the faces of the models in order to “get rid of the element of that woman so she becomes the textile.” They felt alien yet familiar, forms swallowed in clothing. It was political, clothing that wonders if fashion allows for individuality or if clothes are intended for you to relinquish the self to someone else. Can you be you when you are dressed in someone else? It felt wrong and right and very on the nose of the “Question everything.” ethos.
While Quinn’s collection was very much the voice of a new star, his work did reach back to the early, enveloping work of fellow CSM alumn Gareth Pugh. Quinn has a bigger appreciation for the feminine form and loves colors, which is something he needs to never let go of. It’s interesting seeing creators like Gareth now pulling back as people like Quinn take off and evolve where they began. Quinn’s show was a definite reminder of how exciting fashion can still be.
You can view all of the CSM looks here with Quinn’s collection at the tail end. You should probably follow Quinn on Instagram too as he is certainly a talent to keep an eye on. See some of my favorite looks below.