As an established fashion critic (the owner of a Fashion Communication degree I am yet to put to use), a lover of popular culture and the zeitgeist (chronically online), and a front row runway viewer (Vogue.Com coverage from the comfort of my bed), it seems I am perhaps overqualified to share my thoughts and opinions of this seasons latest and greatest at LFW AW23.
Fashion and its influences have seen a seismic shift in recent years, with the Covid-19 pandemic, the rise of new digital media forms and artificial intelligence, and the tragic passings of icons and designers that have shaped the industry as we know it. Entering 2023 in a turbulent political landscape and a cost of living crisis, it has perhaps never been more vital for fashion brands, especially within the luxury sector, to be mindful of their audiences and their wider impact on society.
This London Fashion Week was punctuated particularly by the devastating loss of British designer Vivienne Westwood. AW23 marked the first season in which the rebellious, environmentally-conscious, punk tastemaker and climate change campaigner's absence would be felt, with organisers dedicating the week to comemorate her extraordinary life and work. There is no doubt however, that her influence will continue to have a transformative effect on new fashion trends and upcoming designers, visible within anti-establishment attitudes, slogan t-shirts, DIY aesthetics and androgynous designs.
Beginning with my favourite collections of the season (the ones I saw through the camera phones of the attendees present), there are a selection of brands that in my eyes can do no wrong. Nensi Dojaka, 16Arlington, Di Petsa, and Dilara Fındıkoğlu had awe-inspiring, show stopping, breathtaking exhibitions that reaffirmed my admiration of fashion and its capabilties.
Turkish-born deisgner Dilara Fındıkoğlu showcased her stunning collection in an East London chapel, an environment juxtaposed with a less-than conservative collection that drew influence from themes of sex and fetishization, alluding potentially to the Madonna Whore Complex and the duality of femininity. Titled 'Not A Man's Territory', the show was a display of sensuality and subversiveness, not a far cry from the experience and pains of womanhood. The closing look, a black dress accentuated with clinking metal butter knives, was reminiscent of silver armour, evoking feelings of self defence, empowerment, protection and preservation against the ills of mankind and patriarchal structures. Referencing her heritage, and the recent catastrophic earthquake that struck Türkiye and Syria, Dilara invited guests and followers to donate directly to those affected by the disastrous event.
Despite benefitting from, and occasionally enjoying the Behind-The-Scenes, constant streams of footage and content created by those in attendance of LFW shows and parties, I cannot help but feel like social media, and influencer culture, will truly be the downfall of fashion. I respect the hustle, but if I see another Instagram story whereby someone asks to be dressed for an event, I may have to resort to tears and / or the block button. I don't doubt it's a wonderful, mutually beneficial experience for brands and influencers (great for engagement and followers), but am I wrong for imagining a world where the talent and skill of clothing designers, garment makers, show coordinators, set designers, and art directors aren't overshadowed by the pantomine of nepo babies invited to model in and view the catwalk collections?
You may be thinking - Rosie Clegg, established fashion critic, lover of popular culture and the zeitgeist, and front row runway viewer, but above all else - I am a hater. Leading on from my distaste of influencer culture, was LFW AW23 Street Style. The cartoon-like red boots by MSCHF are escusable in comparison to my utter digust at the glorification of The Ugliest Effing Layering I Have Ever Seen™.
With all that being said, I feel refreshed and inspired by the emerging designers, trends and collaborations coming from this season's showcases. I think there's never been a better time to be engaging with the fashion industry, and tackling the long-established ivory tower of inaccessibility that has been present within it. I'm excited for new ideas, passionate about increases in non-performative representation, and rooting for the underdogs. See you on the FROW next season London!