#SuzyLFW Tech And Tradition: Richard Quinn and Huishan Zhang

Richard Quinn: Three-dimensional

Richard Quinn will be marked forever by the visit last season of Queen Elizabeth II, seated front row at his show. But far from being nostalgic for that golden moment, the designer pushed ahead with three separate strings to his bow: techno support from Epson, which produced a breaking storm as a dramatic and ever-changing backdrop; the London Philharmonic Orchestra on site, playing “The Storm” section of Rossini’s “William Tell” overture; and a front row of students from the schools and colleges he attended.

The latter was a political statement, for the designer is passionate about what he describes as “real damage affecting arts education”, since the UK has seen a 34 per cent drop in students taking arts GCSEs (secondary-school exams) between 2010 and 2018. Quinn deplores this situation and inquires why more help is not given to support the UK’s £32 billion fashion industry.

So was this a show of millennial Punk, torn and angry? No! The collection was about beauty – elegant evening clothes with digital flower prints that wrapped around the body. The patterns were made as if the floral effects were growing in the fabric – a superb technical achievement presented so lightly that there are grounds to believe this designer will survive, and even flourish, in the Brexit storm.

Huishan Zhang: Futuristic Femininity

Ethereal dresses, light as a mist wafting over the body, seemed at first glance to be a traditional ode to prettiness from Huishan Zhang. But the London-based Chinese designer treated the classic evening fabrics – transparent tulle and organza, slithery satin, and lightweight cotton – in a 21st-century way.

Collaborating with Chinese artist Vivien Zhang and echoing her 2D and 3D shapes, the designer turned what might have been the traditional evening clothes with which he started his career, into something more ethereal – and also modern.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that designers born into the world of high-tech find digital work immersive and easy to handle. So in its pale colours and pearl accessories, this Spring/Summer 2019 collection seemed “techno lite” – inventive, but subtly done.