More design treats for Spring 2020 from some of London's most creative designers. All images shot by me unless otherwise stated.

Julien Macdonald

Images Julien Macdonald (c)

It’s one of the most memorable experiences of London Fashion Week and as people wonder if London’s light has maybe dimmed a little, Julien Macdonald is a reminder of the strength and the size of the LFW shows across the last two to three decades. We gathered in Southwark Cathedral under the ancient arches with soft spot lights tracing across the stonework and ambient music playing as we found our seats. Press, clients and buyers had flown in from across the world and many wore the designers clothes, something I also recall you used to see a little more often at Fashion Week’s and perhaps we will again.  

In collaboration with his friend Gabriella Gonzalez he produced a collection that hit all the faithful notes of glamour and the twinkle of stars. As the music began the debut look to walk out onto the huge catwalk along the knave and winding along the aisles. Julien originally came to the attention of the international fashion media due to his skill adapting the techniques of knitwear into something ‘high octane’ and vamp-ish. Over two decades later his clients are still interested in acquiring these pieces and they still form part of his collections. A Black knit body suit features hints of feathers waving from the surface. The waist is encircled by a corset that bares more than a slight resemblance to the mid-part of a suit of armour.

Hints of Grecian goddess chic appear in a mini-dress with sashes of fabric running up to a single shoulder at varying angles and a mini-skirt creates from a bias angle wrap. Loose fabric draped over the right arm to form a long circular cut sleeve. The fabric is flecked with Silver in increasing degree at the right shoulder and left hip brining a liquid shimmer to the piece. A fine Silver-White weave displayed geometry around the figure central above, offset by long tassels reaching from bodice to waist and from the hips as a second skirt of sorts. To the right a mini-dress is created with the metallic strip in mind as this feature is showcased through the Platinum garment. Thin feathers at the sleeve cuffs enhance the sense of movement and volume around the model. A Smokey-Blue dress features applique jewel detail through the lengths with neat twists of fabric at the halter neckline and waist demarking the natural breaks in the figure as the eye descends. With a look of deceptive simplicity the single sheet of fabric descending through the lengths makes an effortless side split dress.

A light Blue knit dress glimmers with metallic sheen in open weave, sheer metallic and fringe segments. The fringes move with the walk of the wearer and create a 3D effect with each step. A Silver dress features a jewelled star like insignia created in crystal applique across the surface fanning out across the surface of the dress from the centre. It’s a bold statement look for the Red Carpet. Centre above another more daring piece could be worn underneath a shift dress as the designer and his friend show the power of the simplicity of fabric use. Two twists of another shimmering fabric across the waist and halter neckline. Almost flowing like water there is great beauty in the simplicity of this design. To the right a single shoulder light Blue dress is slightly longer and features a drop swathe of fabric that is echoed in a drop semi-scarf falling from the left shoulder. Another idea for a possible foundation garment that could be worn with a shift dress or alone on the beach features a bikini-style look that draws strings of pearl-like long thin ceramic beads across the figure in soft style geometric patterns this piece has the carefree feel of summer holidays about it with chords hanging down across the figure.     

Full-length floating dresses are a good bet to create for international clients that may suit a variety of occasions. Above to the left and right a medley of Turquoise, mid-Blue and Rose appears in a tie-dye fabric that resembles the rings and patterning of trees and also the refractions of light bouncing on water. A mini-dress in Turquoise with a bold split following up the gather to the left hips is contrasted with flowing lengths of fabric forming a train behind the wearer. The piece in Rose also combines the mini and full length flow of fabric. Crossing the figure at the mini-skirt the simple harmonies created in the style are complementary to the figure. A light Blue dress patterned in the same form features both full sleeves and shoulders under a cape, thus creating a demure combination that would be interesting to wear for the beach or a party on a warm summer night. To the far right a Lilac dress completes the quartet of looks above that contribute a light floaty feel to the collection. A cocktail dress sewn with a myriad of shiny glass-like oblong crystals descends to the waist in an open V neckline with a soft wrap around the waist. 

The theme of chorded rope work appears again in a Lilac dress that contains woven crochet features that also resemble thin ropes. Arranged in a soft geometry they reflect a unique expression of craft. A Black cocktail dress closely resembles the opening look of the collection with fine needlework off-set with tiny feathers floating around the model. Again inner strength is hinted at through the use of corsets formed like armour around the centre of the female figure. Two Platinum-Gold dresses in woven knits are semi-sheer and composed of sophisticated seamless weave. They still have the faint echoes of the early style that earned Macdonald the title ‘King of the Cobweb’ and are packed with the star quality that clients look to embody when wearing his clothes. 

A dramatic V plunge neckline marks a start reveal/conceal contrast within the first dress above to the left. Three fringes of fine threads form soft outer skirts to the dress upping the ‘shimmy’ factor. Two long Lilac dresses both blend the shimmering iridescence of crystal sequin plates that fall flat against the figure and the soft billows of fabric that float around the wearer. Draping is important to subtly emphasise the grace and natural curve of the female form and follows the ancient art of curving fabric around the figure. To the right the soft drop of fabric from the shoulder down to the ground behind the wearer forms a soft demi-train that floats like a whisper behind the wearer. As the collection rounded out this celebration of women looked again to the linear long lined sequins a Silver dress was worn over a body suit that created a tonal contrast. Feathers falling from the shoulder sashes of sleeves added a third dimension to the texture of the garment. One of the most daring looks of the entire collection closed the show with a V plunge neckline echoed at 45 degrees at the right hip and in a high thigh split over the left of the model.       

Charlotte Knowles

Images Salvatore Dragone (c)

She’s based in South London and designs clothes with her partner Alexandre Arsenault. They want to create a wardrobe of empowerment for women and enjoy the investigation of the classic codes and mores of women’s dressing today. With their sights set on a future vision of femininity they challenge the current notions of objectivity of the female figure.

The collection opens with two nude-coloured garments worn by the model that look decidedly like underwear that’s graduated to outerwear. A bodice that faintly traces the outline of the figure displays escallops at the bodice and a dual layering of fabric criss-crossing the body to leave angled points above the hips. Figure hugging knee length shorts resemble cycling shorts that also makes a statement about our perception of under garments. A body suit with Lemon-Yellow soft leaves running across the surface of a body suit with an outer layer provided by a bodice and shorts with a sports theme in palest Lemon.

An Olive Green coat features a burnished corset with armour-like properties holds the figure at the centre of the garment. To the right a skirt suit created in a soft silk features a delicate pattern of interlaced chains. It’s a chic look for formal lunches, dinners and slightly more casual corporate settings. It’s a look that demonstrates an interest in art and exploration of design. 

Light Blue and Silver metallic form an imaginative dress under a Black velvet jacket cut and styled in similar line to the previous Olive coat. A bodice top and trouser combination with small stole make a confident stylish paring that feature the simple side ties that give the look a relaxed casual feel. The Amber-Gold floral print running across the surface hints at sunlight and Golden sunsets in the summer months. The detail is charming with fluted ankles that resemble the shape and curve of flower heads. It’s a beautiful look to go out in for formal evens or bar and restaurant gatherings.

A soft Caramel plaid dress sits lightly on the figure with soft fabric draped around the lower legs. A plunge V neckline gives the look a daring eveningwear feel whilst the lower ankles are shielded by loose tie trousers. This shift dress style is repeated in a Lemon coloured floral dress that sits over a stretch-fabric pair of trousers featuring the same floral prints. Moving between a soft Yellow and a light Green the changing colours of nature are reflected in the design.      

The same pattern is used in a sheer blouse underneath a Clay coloured trouser suit. It’s a versatile formal look for work or social occasions and would look as good in front of the cameras at a private lunch. A carefree combination of neck scarf, stretch top and light summer skirt plays with the casual summer theme in a beautiful way and the patchwork quilt look to the skirt has a romantic carefree feel to it. Straightforward check appeared in a dress in citrus Yellow with Orange plaid lines set in hand-drawn grids. It’s another highly versatile piece to add to the summer wardrobe or leisure time or a casual working settings. The same style features in trousers and a light raincoat in the custom Beige is anything but conventional when patterned with a mysterious serpent-like monster.        

The check theme continues through a series of looks above ranging in colour from rich Ochre to a dark Aubergine. Delicate light fabric is contrasted by the strength of colour that the garments possess. Carefree wisps of fabric are casual ties to control comfort and fit. Mid-calf length trousers and a simple sports vest also bring together a casual look for days in the sunshine. You could easily wear this on holiday or at home. A floral motif at the left chest adds an extra style twist. The warm Caramel plaid pattern returned in trousers that teamed happily with a knee length dress featuring part-faded check shapes. The shoulders of the dress are composed of swathes of fabric on the diagonal and the garment seems to reflect the simple joy of playing with design and creating beautiful garments. To the right the fame fabric created a beautiful blouse and trouser combination worn underneath a light suit jacket that uniquely combined plaid with the partial plaid pattern. Pockets angled over the hips made a gentle nod to formality whilst a headscarf shields the wearer from summer rays. 

Katie-Anne McGuigan

Irish designer Katie Anne McGuigan made her debut at London Fashion Week (check) with a presentation that showed a strong all leaning to the outdoors with touches of prettiness braced for all weather eventualities. A raspberry Pink raincoat was patterned with both floral hints and geometric design across its waterproof surface and a hooded Orange sports top and embroidered skirt caught in the dappled light of the exhibition space. Centre above soft calico print trousers where cut loosely on the figure as part of a one-piece garment that sat under a sheer Rose tulle blouse and a high rise bolero cut top. To the right these two looks stand in the background behind a dress and light summer jacket themed in light Blue and Orange. Once again the mixture of nature and geometry appear to a playful and enjoyable effect. 

Crochet and handmade textiles played a part in the collection expressing the designer’s belief in the importance of hand craft and preservation of traditional techniques. A dress crocheted in White and Pink squares reaches knee length underneath a raincoat of similar checkerboard patterning in Pink and Orange. A silk scarf printed with floral patterns forms a confident contrast in style and makes an elegant pairing. A light Blue sheer dress embroidered with lozenges is finished with an outer bodice of White flowers on an Orange background. Peplum detail at the waist adds a flourish of volume above tiered layers echoing the relaxed folk skirt design worn across the British Isles and Europe over many centuries. Crochet also features in a White and Caramel squared copped outer vest with a slightly sheer patterned dress underneath providing another example of a contrast. To the right a lush grapefruit Red dress is a perfect piece to add to the summer wardrobe with lose fabric falling in tiers across the figure. A floral print shift dress underneath provides another example of textile contrasts.

A soft floral fabric that featured the same Pink flower on Grapefruit print decorates a sheer dress underneath a Marine Green shirt with a geometric necktie finishing the look. Embroidered flowers feature through the front length of the garment either side of the buttons. To the right small flowers are set on a checkerboard patterned Grapefruit coloured dress. A shirt underneath in gentle Caramel tones echoes the same design and creates a flattering contrast in the look. A dual fabric dress in Brown and Cream crochet and Brown and Blue square acrylic features a peplum frill at the waist to gently create extra volume. A similarly bold look to the right features Hot Pink and a Lilac-Blue also mixing nature and geometry between the pieces of the outfit. Single colour short, a patterned jacket and light trousers. McGuigan assembles colour to make a bold and positive impact whilst creating garments that themselves have a practical utilitarian design and function.                                                                                                                                                  

Richard Quinn

All images (c) Alessandro Lucioni

His shows are some of the most anticipated of London Fashion Week and this collection for Spring Summer 20 showed many pieces in strong colour tones that would be eagerly acquired to add to a wardrobe this autumn as the rich colours and textile print could appeal to livening up the darker days and the party season.

The opening dress expresses the collection trait of requiring long lean legs to carry off these looks as the designer envisaged. The studied almost solemn faces of the models where at a sharp contrast to the abundant joy in the fabrics and styling of the garments that Quinn and his team sent out. A brief Black upper bodice in PVC heralds a beautiful mini-dress filled out the grandest volume of the Haute Couture. A broad bow tie of fabric at the waist sits above the broad skirt in two tiered hems. Gathered with pin-tucks at the waist to create a greater volume swirling around the figure, the look is completed by tights printed in the same fabric as the dress and Black heeled shoes. There’s a hint of rock and roll romance that brings a life to the catwalk. It’s charming and exuberant but still falls within the Quinn sense of styled decorum. 

The bold romance of the volume speaks in an echo of the 1980’s with a feeling of joy running through the collection. An intricately embroidered bodice of a Black dress is detailed in a bloom befitting an abundant floral garden border. Extravagant full-length Black silk sleeves ballooning at the shoulders to the elbow make a careful art of the gather. The dropped waist broad hemline also in Black silk completes a look that is seemingly insisting on heading for the dancefloor or attending a Christmas party. But I mustn’t forget myself this is collection for next spring and summer and the Black patent full length leggings are sure to see off any lingering chill in the early spring.

The broad skirted mini-dress blooms once more with daisies strewn across the surface of high-rise puff sleeve shoulders, White smock bodice and voluminous skirt. A White bow at the bodice neckline and sympathetic ruffs running through the length of the sleeves nods to vintage dress of previous centuries, I’m no expert by any means but my thoughts are drawn to late 16th and 17th century styles. Tights sequinned with diamante on the diagonal swirled around the legs like a ribbon of light and it’s a piece that suggest for much of this collection, you’d be best placed to own a long pair of pins to show it to the meet the designer’s vision. It was like seeing spring bloom down the catwalk. A sea of Blues emerged to the right with a sweetheart neckline leading to a sweetheart bow just as with its prior neighbour. The big puff sleeves of the 1980’s return along with the dropped waistline forming a thick hem. A small contrast is created between the seamless wall of flowers and the embroidered lattice crosses upon the surface of the small sheer White silk bodice. The fun loving florals of the 1980’s are well and truly alive and kicking here.

This collection walked out to the sedate tunes of the Royal Philharmonic orchestra playing Bach and it spoke to the ambient nature of what was a collection with impact but also restraint, gathering the florals and prettiness into recognisable structures and elements of style. White dots come into focus in a mini-dress that uses the design features of previous pieces and ruffs at the mid-arm sleeve cuffs and a neckline bow that camouflages into the dress itself. British supermodels (something we excel at producing) Erin O’Connor and Jade Parfitt strode out in complementary looks that used the same fabric pattern to stunning effect. Erin wore a gown-jacket that that swept through with the dimensions of vintage pieces from the 19th century and beyond and Jade wore a shift dress in two sheer layers of the printed fabric with a jacket.

These looks again had me thinking of a bright statement look for the autumn months but I think that many of these looks from Quinn are genuinely trans-seasonal. The mystique of the mythical Blue rose (now made real I believe) is captured in a mini-dress inspired by the lines of the traditional Chinese tunic dress. Sewn with shimmering crystals at its collar-neckline and hemline, this dress is ready to go out and party and the patent or pvc figure hugging leggings. This same fabric, seemingly bonded to the figure appears in the dress to the far right. Wrapping the model and then adding a side wrap of silk across the shoulder, the front of the dress features a waterfall of Rose-Pink feathers with Noir accent. It’s an imaginative look at how a stylish luxury piece could be put together.

Florals sing out in confidence across the circle of the skirt of a dress that looks to the rock and roll era of the fit and flare dress with a broad bodice of feather bower banded around the figure. It’s fun but it’s also no-nonsense glamour that will be taken seriously. There is a sweetness in this collection that never strays into being childish with its clean lines and easily definable silhouette. The beautiful painted silks spoke for themselves almost and this collection carried the confident touch of Haute Couture. A Black silk base twinned with its neighbour in featuring a surface of flowing flowers like bouquets twirling across the fabric. One thin Black feathers reach out from the bodice line across the shoulders, down through the sleeves and around the head and neck. The face of the model is framed with rough cut crystal. The tulle netting of the underskirt escapes into the public eye and adds effusive volume to the dipped hemline dress, falling to a train behind the wearer.

A mini-dress with puffed shoulders and pulled out balloons of fabric tracing the sleeve lengths evokes the styles of sleeves on male jackets and female dresses during the Elizabethan Court era. Once again a sweet Red bow tied at the centre of a soft-plunge sweetheart neckline is backed by a semi-sheer lattice gauze upper bodice that again speaks to the style and design of the Elizabethan era. A box clutch purse in light Blue also features a rose at the side creating a contrast between the nature and human-made structure. A beautiful Blue floral fabric returns again with a deeply off-the-shoulder mini-dress with a low neckline band encircling the décolleté and arms and tied in a bow at the neckline. Fabric is gathered in abundance around the figure and folded underneath to softly amplify the volume of the garment into a puff-ball shape.

A beautiful embroidered fabric sewn with the brightest coloured florals you could imagine in a dreamy Summer garden is set on a light Blue backdrop of sheer tulle evoking water and White satin silk richly sewn with crystals sparkling like diamonds brings a hint of the Indian Sari to the collection and may make a re-appearance later on in the set. A light Blue tulle froth of skirting once more escapes from the underneath of the dress and its crystal jewelled hem band. A shimmering spiral wraps around the legs with the sheer White trousers enlaced in crystal. A bouquet of Roses spills across the lengths of a full length fitted dress with fishtail skirt. The dress is wrapped with a Black ribbon spiralling down around the figure carrying romantic poetry through its length written in shimmering Silver crystal. In her right hand the model carries a simple clutch purse folded into the shape of a Rose and crafted in the softest light Pink. It could perhaps be requested without the ribbon as a couture piece in a more understated style.  


The shortened form of the traditional Chinese dress with side split coordinate with stem-like legging-tights that use the long slender leg profile to amplify the effect of flowers running up the length of the models legs. A drop cowl neckline dress reaching in one sweep to a below the knee hem flows like a waterfall of hand painted watercolour flowers. The light Blue of the floral design is echoed in the legging-tights wrapped in spirals of thick and thin crystals. It’s floaty and diaphanous with the soft flowers tempered with the twinkle of diamond-like stones. It would light up a garden party setting and also be a beautiful evening piece for summer evening parties.  

A nod to the 1970’s appeared in the first look above to the left with bold stylised floral patterns melted across the surface of the garment. The Red and Orange evocative of the warm months of high summer and some heads bowed convey a sense of heat. A broad crystal neckline thick with stones snakes around the collar bones and bodice settled close to the figure in contrast to the floating diaphanous lengths of fabric. Broad jewelled cuffs and twinkle toed shoes again make a contrast between the floral and the shimmering metallic.

A full length dress including cowl neckline and broad cape-train descending from the shoulders to the ground as the wearer walks. The dress is crafted with swathes of fabric encircling the neckline and soft painted Roses with their Grey-Green leaves are painted large across the canvas of the dress. It’s a demure statement that could easily be worn anywhere in the world. A close cut cocktail dress is enhanced with a puff of Black tulle behind the wearer forming a mid-air train of sorts behind a model. A sun-drenched pattern of boldly painted flowers strewn across the surface of this dress also speaks of high summer and days of endless sunshine. A knee length coat in the same fabric falls to the knees of the wearer in a broad tulip shape that features crystals at the collar and around the buttons to give a feeling of light amidst the bursting blooms.  

Flowing fabric with an almost impressionist era inspired visible brush strokes blends two sets of clash/contrast colour duo, Blue and Green and also Lilac and Rose. Fabrics ripple around the figure with tiny pin-tuck gather beneath the collar falling indeed like a waterfall of colour to a soft expanse of fabric. The cape returns once more as an addition to the trouser suit of the same fabric. Cut broad at the leg whilst tight on the hips, it’s elongated slightly masculine look is plum 1970’s style envisioned for wear by women. The fishtail dress is given another strong statement re-working with a soft feminine floral print boasting large roses running across the figure composed alongside a décolleté and full sleeves to the fingertip made of pvc acrylic. To the right the striking print of the Blue rose returns with a more subtly cut version of the fishtail dress featuring an external puff-ball skirt in Black silk surrounding the wearer. 

A dress that replicates the wrap around neckline seen earlier in Magenta is composed of a length of fabric wrapping around the figure. A cape-train falling behind model Erin O’Connor from the shoulders to the ground behind the wearer billowing as she walks. The softly painted Pink rose returned with a fitted waist and low midi-length skirt. Generous folds of the fabric swish behind the wearer as she walks and this piece, another with the hall marks of Haute Couture, features a bodice and sleeve shrouded in feathers. Like a mummy Swan little cygnets trailed behind her in a moment where Quinn possibly indicated he will dress client’s children. To the right the vintage tinsel-like lattice of sparkling stones and sheer gauze carries another echo of the Tudor era style that Quinn evoked in several places in the collection. It would make a wonderful confident bridal dress with simple fit and flare bodice and dress structure accented by a crescent of feathers around the neckline. 

The show had the feel of a fashion sanctuary of sorts, one where like-minded people came to celebrate and welcome the new collection from Quinn. He has his style defines and it’s a beautiful elegant type of luxury that falls short of being soft I would say. A single shoulder dress is sprinkled with Silver and crystal confetti-like pieces in a sheer outer layer of a puff-ball voluminous above the knee mini-dress. An out-sized ribbon descending from the single shoulder is tied in a soft romantic bow with lengths dropping to just below the hemline. Streams of flowers wind across the shift outer layer of a White dress that would make a beautiful bejewelled option for a bridal dress. The firm corset-like bodice and soft folds of the skirt speak of the classic cocktail dress style that has been in the wardrobes and collections of women since the mid-20th century. It’s also a perfect evening and occasion dress that I could see on the Red Carpet at Cannes in the summer.

To the right a dress that features stronger hints of bridal made a key feature of puffs of fabric around the shoulders and large plumped bows running through the lengths of the sleeves and a series of six line the front of the mini-dress as it descends to the mid-thigh hemline. A sheer tulle banded by crystal-sewn lattice work across the décolleté and encircling the neckline. The model wears a small veil to emulate the classic bridal look, or simply a style affectation to enhance the look as in previous centuries. A bandeau top encircling the bodice and a mini-skirt in the cut of the upper part of the mantua dress form a sophisticated look that plays a little with convention. The bodice with its jewelled lattice work and the skirt sewn with twinkling flowers. It’s a look to party in or wear an unconventional wedding piece perhaps.     

Interestingly the collection didn’t finish on the bridal note with bright bold colour entering the frame once again. A flowing Saffron dress featured folds of fabric encircling the neckline to create a rose-like shape and the lengths almost seemed like elongated petals with their softly curved layers falling down across the figure in tiers. This would make a grand spectacle on the Red Carpet or a gala during the brighter sunshine months. The dropped waist outline of the late 20th century returned with a final flourish as a floral tableaux was created across a brightly jewelled upper dress descending to a broad expanse of silk in several layers reaching from below the hips to the floor. It’s a dip into the ball dresses of the previous decades that could be worn by clients across the age spectrum. Charming but meaningful it would add light and beauty to the room that it entered.