With the Spring/Summer 2023 edition of London Fashion Week falling during the period of national mourning for Queen Elizabeth II and her funeral, there was uncertainty as to how the event would fare, especially after major houses like Burberry and Raf Simons canceled. But emerging London designers from Molly Goddard to Edward Crutchley presented their collections while paying tribute to a queen who championed creativity and design.

    Although the fashion shows have since moved to Milan, the collections of Molly Goddard, Erdem, Edward Crutchley, Rejina Pyo and Bora Aksu have left a lasting impression.

    The starting point for Molly Goddard’s SS23 collection was the pre-internet red carpet era, when ‘dressing up was more for the party and for yourself’. An era, Goddard added, when it wasn’t about “posing,” and when people looked like they were having more fun.

    The designer also cited the work of fashion designer Charles James and the way he played with shapes and proportions as inspiration for this season. Goddard added in the show’s notes that she’s interested in “pushing the fabrics to the max, utilizing the qualities of each fabric and letting it do the work.”

    The result was a joyful, uncompromising explosion of color and volume, as you’d expect from Goddard. There were colorful tulle dresses and slips, but also elaborately cut evening dresses made of cotton and ball gowns made of jersey. There was also plain tailoring, knitted hoodies, ruched bomber jackets and cheesy printed tops with ruffle trims and matching skirts.

    Goddard ended the show with a classic bridal gown, a larger than life tulle gown for a modern bride that looked terrific against the backdrop of the Seymour Leisure Centre.

    Image: Erdem SS23 by Jason Lloyd Evans

    For the Spring/Summer 2023 collection, Erdem researched art restoration and spent time with restoration experts at the British Museum, the Tate, V&A and the National Gallery.

    “The knowledge, skill and dedication required in restoration is both a visceral and technical form of creativity,” explains the designer in his notes to the show. “It requires forensic passion; individual pieces can be worked on by a single restorer for up to 20 years. The collection explores the space between diligence and obsession in the pursuit of preservation”.

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    Image: Erdem SS23 by Jason Lloyd Evans

    As part of his research, he witnessed the revival of an 18th-century embroidered dress with an intricate tulle underlay, and this inspired a collection that explores the space between diligence and obsession in the quest for preservation. This was translated into an exploration of the unfinished, in stages of reconstruction such as frayed hems, faded textiles, and adding patchwork repairs to dresses. Erdem even covered some looks with tulle veil-like pouches as if to protect them from the forces of nature.

    Erdem also dedicated his SS23 show to Her Majesty The Queen with a range of black veiled mourning dresses.

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    Image: Erdem SS23 by Jason Lloyd Evans

    Edward Crutchley

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    Image: Edward Crutchley SS23

    Woolmark award winner Edward Crutchley took inspiration from the ancient Greek sea god Proteus for his SS23 collection and explored different types of dresses, from intricate gowns and body-con dresses to crystal-embellished thongs and cupless bras.

    Crutchley, who worked with Kim Jones at Dior and Louis Vuitton, showed why he’s a master at fabric manipulation and sourcing with a new lustrous cloqué jacquard. The fabric was developed exclusively for the collection, a new interpretation of cloqué as a double weave with a jacquard effect full of couture sensibility. For some looks, aluminum was woven to create a crinkle effect, while in other cases, lurex offered an iridescent sheen to convey the power of the sea.

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    Image: Edward Crutchley SS23

    Throughout the collection, Crutchley emphasized the changing nature of the sea, inspired by waves, jellyfish in motion and aquatic plants moving underwater to create fluid and ethereal silhouettes. There were form-fitting knit dresses with holographic sequin waves, hand-embroidered pleats and beaded encrustations, and others modeled on the seabed with bubble cutouts.

    Alongside this, there was also a range of deep blue looks, from a mini dress with ruffled sleeves to a long raincoat and bomber jacket, made from water-effect nylon made with a faceted yarn that refracts the light. For the finale, Crutchley presented couture dresses in color-changing lurex and silk that shimmered beautifully even under the harsh lights of an underground car park.

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    Image: Edward Crutchley SS23

    “I’m not trying to pretend I’m in couture, but my experience in it over the past year has shaped my approach,” Crutchley explained in the show’s notes. “For me, couture is the place where you can push your ideas to the furthest point. The work is of the highest possible standard as far as one can imagine. I’m less afraid.”

    Rejina Pyo

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    Image: Rejina Pyo

    For SS23, Rejina Pyo was inspired by a Tolstoy quote – “One can live great in this world if one knows how to work and how to love” and that, since it was written more than 100 years ago, it does not add up related to women.

    With this in mind, Pyo presented a celebration of women and what it means to love and work, two cornerstones of our humanity according to Freud. The result was a collection full of feminine silhouettes, from short skirts to draped trousers, alongside her signature sculptural shapes and sheer tops, skirts and dresses with buttons that can be worn with or without briefs.

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    Image: Rejina Pyo SS23

    The collection also included white and two-tone biodenim patchwork models in relaxed sizes and hand-fringed details, as well as recycled nylon swimwear with double straps and off-the-shoulder models that were finished with a signature resin ring.

    SS23 also featured a new range of knotted bags, shown in Object box and Crossbody bucket sizes, as well as a new chain handbag and an updated Banana bag with new strap details.

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    Image: Rejina Pyo SS23

    Bora Aksu

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    Image: Bora Aksu

    London-based Turkish designer Bora Aksu’s Spring/Summer 2023 collection presents an “anachronistic dream world” inspired by the works of writer Henry Darger and artist Marcel Dzama’s watercolors, exploring the relationship between innocence and perversion. This was demonstrated in “pieces that straddle the line between the delicate and the resolute,” explained the designer in the show’s notes, while also placing femininity at the heart of the creative process.

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    Image: Bora Aksu

    Aksu also continued the ideas of escapism and folkloric storytelling introduced in previous seasons, with military-inspired design elements such as medallions, sashes and tailoring contrasting with his signature layers of ruffles and tulle, painterly motifs and pastel color palette.

    Aksu has once again incorporated sustainable design practices into his work this season. Many of the silks and satins used in the collection come from rolls of discarded designs and damaged materials.

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    Image: Bora Aksu

    This article originally appeared on FashionUnited.uk. Translated and edited by Simone Preuss.

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