London Fashion Week got off to a sparkling start on Friday 17 February, when British Fashion Council NEWGEN designer and Swarovski Collective member Sadie Williams presented her Atumn/Winter 2017 collection. The location was London Fashion Week’s new home, the new BFC Presentation Space at 180 The Strand. Her signature tomboy was in colorful mood: geometric shapes in primary brights patched over voluminous sporty silhouettes worn with Converse high tops. A shimmering silver rainbow-striped hoodie dress—part-sports jock, part-chainmail knight, but unmistakably feminine—was a standout piece.
“This season I wanted to play to my strengths in prints, pattern cutting and textiles. It’s using my personal style: bold and graphic mixed with feminine, sparkly richness that contrasts clean graphic shapes. I also integrated lots of different textiles to see how they behave together, and the crystal touches really add to that.”
Returning Swarovski Collective member Emilia Wickstead took her inspiration from Russian peasant looks and theatrical costumery to pull off a London Fashion Week runway that shifted her high-elegance signature look up a gear. Shown on February 18, her Fall/Winter 2017 collection had all the wearable femininity you expect from this classy designer (a favorite with the Duchess of Cambridge).
There were maxi-dresses with pleats and puffed sleeves; semi-sheer lace layers that shimmered with a generous spotting of gray, blue, black and white Crystal Pearls (a whopping 130,000 of them). Then there were vintage florals, lustrous velvets and felted wool coats. Plus there was that show-stopping silvery gown that everyone’s talking about.
“I was inspired by an obscure female Russian photographer from the 1900s who put everyday women in Russian theatrical costume, which is where the Swarovski Pearl on the spotted lace came into play. She layered a lot of different layers and transparency and it was very costume-y, so I wanted to create a modern take on that.” said Emilia.
Denim on denim—let me count the ways… In her second season as a Swarovski Collective member, Faustine Steinmetz proved herself a modern master of the world’s best-known utility fabric on February 18. In a White Cube exhibition-style showcase at the Tate Modern for London Fashion Week, she presented a startling array of deconstructed and crystallized denim. Almost 100,000 blue and white crystals were used to highlight creative destruction themes of fraying and bleaching in her Fall/Winter 2017 collection.
Alongside Steinmetz’s trademark ingenuity and fine-honed technical skill there were flashes of sparkling wit. Crystals were studded along the length of collarbones, fingers and facial contours, created with the help of stylist Georgia Pendlebury, echoing the rivets in a classic jean. The smart money is on this being the beginning of a new contouring trend. Other memorable details were some fabulous crystal-blitzed Nike sneakers, quirky denim spats, plus the Steinmetz logo emblazoned in crystal across chests and phone belts.
“I’ve always worked with denim, ever since I was 14-years-old and I used to cut up my jeans to create these weird bags and jackets. What I like about working with a pair of jeans is that you’re creating something by working around a very concrete object The Swarovski crystal we’ve used is so associated with glamour and has all these connotations, so I wanted to work it in a different way, making it very distressed and a bit broken and our own twist. Each bead on the jeans is individually embroidered and it took about 25 days to finish them. There were a lot of people working on them!” says the designer.
Other London Fashion Week names to watch are Swarovski partners and long-term collaborators Mary Katrantzou and Peter Pilotto. Keep your eye on emerging labels A.V. Robertson, Fortie Label, and Roberta Einer too, all of which unveiled crystallized looks among their FW17 collections.
Images by Dan Lecca & Eli Schmidt