If London Fashion Week SS 24 has proven anything, it’s that romance isn’t dead.
Case in point: Simone Rocha’s ribbon and flat shoe-laden collection, named The Dress Rehearsal, brimming with dried, lace-enclosed roses, layers of buttery tulles and pearl strung accessories. Rocha is known for her amorous design perspective – SS 24 felt like a natural progression of a career-long creative conversation – but The Dress Rehearsal’s wedding themed showcase (staged at east London’s English National Ballet headquarters) fell even further into love. The designer’s collection notes, for example, were a short poem, penned by Rocha:
Declaration (of love)
To have and to hold
To be bound
To one another
Something old, something new, something borrowed
something baby blue
A fresh take on bridal bouquets saw blooms constructed from three-dimensional whorls of fabric, accompanied by pale pink (real) roses concealed by gauzy layers. Wedding cakes also received the Rocha treatment, with tiered handbags akin to sponge layers iced in strings of pearls. But this is Rocha’ world, remember, and the creative director has never been one to sacrifice practicality for fantasy. On the runway, the two converged in the form of sparkly, fondant-thick grey and black Crocs, decorated in pearls and crystals.
Erdem Moralioglu, who designs under his eponymous label Erdem, took a similarly subversive route to love this season with a collection inspired by the Mitford girl who married the Duke of Devonshire, the late Deborah “Debo” Cavendish.
Granted rare access to the Chatsworth House estate, Moralioglu fashioned Debo’s 1940s floral curtains into skirts for his evening dresses – the result was classic London Fashion Week mischief doused in English romance. Artfully dishevelled styling met inside-out patchwork, lingerie dresses, studded leather jackets and tweeds for slightly unbuttoned sensuality that felt in many ways more provocative than the naked dress trend of seasons past.
Molly Goddard’s Christie’s auction house-based runway also channelled a romantic state of mind with shirred and ruffled petticoats, exposed corsetry and washed out red rose prints, while Daniel Lee’s Burberry – though less overtly idealised – served as a luxurious love letter to the brand’s heritage and classic beauty.
The high concept, high voltage edges of the past few fashion weeks haven’t been rounded off completely – just softened; buffed and blushed like our own hard edges in the early throes of love. And just like any burgeoning romance, it all feels like the very first time.