#SuzyLFW: So British! The Brighter Side Of Brexit

Anya Hindmarch: A cloud nine experience

A giant bean bag covered the entire floor of the grand and gilded Banqueting House at the Anya Hindmarch show.

Others had been there before, bouncing in the foamy white cloud and relaxing to gentle live music. More private clients than at the designer’s Bond Street store had been buying bags from a stall and enjoying the experience.

‘Our brand is about engaging with the customer – it’s about humour, it’s about experience and quite literally enveloping people in our brand, while people can shop online,’ said Hindmarch.

The icing on the sugary pastries on offer was the moment when BBC Radio 4’s Zeb Soanes read out the Shipping Forecast – a night-time weather report that serves as a lullaby to the UK nation.

How British! For London fashion is offering a lighter side of the squabbles and dramas of the upcoming Brexit.

Alice Archer: Prairie blooms

So what does being ‘British’ mean in fashion terms? There is the English love of flowers – even if Alice Archer claimed that her sweet floral embroideries were inspired by the prairies and Willa Cather’s books of frontier life on the Great Plains. Yet nothing seemed more characteristic of the English countryside than the wispy bouquets, tinged with corn. They were a backdrop to a show that expressed her passion for creating floral patterns using digital embroidery techniques.

This worked at its most charming on delicate dresses of filmy transparency rather than for the few attempts at tailoring.

Molly Goddard: English Exuberance

An aura of eternal celebration surrounds Molly Goddard whose own description of dresses filled with bubbling frills was an idea of a woman with a flushed face ‘unsure whether it’s down to the sunburn or the cervezas’ (Spanish for beer).

But for the Spring/Summer 2019 season, this party girl seemed to be spending more time in the UK (coping with the sinking pound sterling perhaps). Bright dresses with flower patterns might have taken a plunge through the bust line, but the inky blue-black dresses were relatively subdued.

The most important element was not the clothes themselves, but the feeling that Goddard is moving forward in her own whimsical spirit.

Jasper Conran is angry

The colours at the Jasper Conran show were so intense – ultra-marine, hot pink, acid yellow, grass green, vermilion and a streak of silver – that they seemed to express in elegant, streamlined clothes the rage bottled up by the designer.

A typed list handed out with the show notes voiced an unexpected burst of rage from a designer of nearly 40 years who deplores the snail-like progress of women’s rights since he first saw his mother Shirley Conran fighting through the 1970s and 1980s.

How to express frustration that ‘89 per cent of women in the UK work for a company with a pay gap that favours men; and that women hold only 12 per cent of jobs paying £150,000 or more?’ he asked in the written rant.

The message was sent out also via sleek, stark clothes in brilliant colours led by a not-so-mellow yellow and a vivid orange. There were graphic stripes on dresses; head-to-toe red ensembles; and the vivid colours were interspersed with calming white.

Whilst Conran’s Instagram posts are filled with his country house flower garden, in this show not a bud or a bloom could be seen.

Stephen Jones: Between aristocrats and punk

Are there really signs in fashion – always a good barometer – about the divorce from the European fashion world?

Or maybe it was never a perfect marriage. As Stephen Jones, whose hats are seen in shows from Dior in Paris to Marc Jacobs in New York, put it: ‘If you are British and even though you try and be international and assume a European identity, there is always something which anchors you within a British sensibility.’

And, for him, ‘That means a balance between the love of the aristocratic and the love of the punk.’