"I dream my painting and I paint my dream," once said Vincent van Gogh, a sentiment certainly reflected in some of LFW's collections so far.
The house of Alexander McQueen has built a brand on the art of fantasy and reverie and creative director Sarah Burton presented a collection that is no exception.
Returning to LFW for the first time in 15 years, the McQueen collection was an exquisite parade of 42 demi-couture looks that floated down the runway on what could have been the ladies-in-waiting of Shakespeare's fairy queen, Titania. Gauzy, gossamer dresses and tailored suiting alike came blossoming in flowers, butterflies, birds, stars and surreal motifs such as lips, floating fob watches and unicorns either painted, embroidered or pinned on in ornate brooch form. Signature Victorian lace details and corsetry were accented with fine knits, lacquered ostrich feathers and fur lapels that evolved into full-blown blanket coats in a fantastical, fairytale-worthy finale.
Newly appointed creative director to Mulberry, Johnny Coca, (previously of Céline) also orchestrated a homecoming of sorts for the British brand, presenting the first runway show for the brand in 30 months. The collection was inspired by Shakespeare and his ability to capture every member of society, "from the noble to the nobody, the royal to the rebel," said the show notes. The collection spoke to the heritage of the house in tailoring and preppy mood, updating with punk leather kilts, stud, buckle and chain details and an accented palette in acid yellow, orange and blue.
Continuing the historical narrative - albeit a darker, more gothic tale - Simone Rocha presented her first collection since giving birth to her baby girl, Valentine, three months ago. With her attention understandably turned to mothering, Rocha mused on ideas of Victorian matrons and Edwardian hospitals to inform a collection inflected with references to medical garb and details of the era - layers of wrapping and swaddling, stiff, high collars, apron-esque gauzy dresses overlaid onto frayed tweed suiting (or vice versa), a would-be nurse cap and knitting - "As women do when there's a baby coming," Rocha explained backstage.
Also child-friendly was Mary Katrantzou's collection, riffing on ideas of costumes and infantile excitement over dress-ups. There were cowboy shirts and jackets, tulle ballerina tutus and Grace Kelly-inspired head scarves, all splattered in Kantrantzou's signature frenzy of print and colour.
If there were an award for best front row, it would surely go to Topshop Unique. Lucky Blue Smith, Jourdan Dunn, Karlie Kloss, Lara Stone, Pixie Geldof and Suki Waterhouse flanked a runway full of fluffy outerwear and '80s club kid references - of particular note, the vintage-inspired magenta lace and houndstooth check, star-studded (literally) jackets, sequins, velvet and straight-from-surplus military coats, trousers and jackets.
J.W. Anderson's collection for his eponymous label was suitably boundary pushing and realised in his own jolie-laide signature. The strength of this collection lies in the separates, which would be best pulled apart from a full 'look' and paired with more sombre, wardrobe staples. The innovative, sculptural collection was the kind of thing a young Judy Jetson might wear - with a nod to '60s interpretations of futuristic clothing, there were padded T-shirts, boots covered in metallic scales, space villain cape shoulders, twists, drapes, circular panelling and all manner of sculptural ruffles. An otherworldly collection, for sure.