There was an undeniable whiff of romance at London Fashion Week and a little joie de vivre about dressing up – both now and ahead – for the incoming autumn/winter season.
Richard Quinn invited guests to enter a secret garden, a hidden space that exploded into life after darkness, with a dazzling cast of characters coming out to play.
His gowns certainly billowed and bloomed, and if guests were perhaps a little taken by surprise by the opening sequence, when masked dancers in black latex catsuits threw feline shapes along the runway, Quinn quickly sent out his stars.
Famous for his love of volume and signature florals, it was there with bells on – a yellow and black floor-sweeping coat, red roses dress with cape and matching boots, and a black ruffle tiered evening gown with long train that lingered on the checkerboard runway.
However, this season Quinn has explored a less voluminous silhouette too, imbued with restrained tailoring such as the chic collarless 3D lace coat with bracelet-length sleeves and an embroidered white floral strapless mini-dress with matching trousers worn by supermodel Jourdan Dunn.
Raised in Lewisham, London, Quinn’s parents come from counties Donegal and Meath. If he wanted to achieve an emotional response to his clothes, he certainly succeeded, especially with his bridal pieces which made up the finale section, which had 18 looks.
Elsewhere, Simone Rocha hosted a show in the round at Central Hall in Westminster, the location for the 1946 inaugural meeting of the United Nations.
The Dublin-born designer took inspiration from the rituals surrounding the Lughnasadh harvest festival.
As models walked along the first-floor balcony, it offered guests a thrilling close-up of the garments, with intricate detail on beaded slip dresses, glittering beads and pearls on the sailors’ collars, raffia stuffed into sleeves, and the gold womenswear looks in cloque and crushed lurex.
There were pink bows embroidered on dresses and tiny ones placed in the hair and on the faces of models. The latter look represented blood traditionally daubed on children’s faces to ward off ill spirits and bad luck.
A season on from launching her menswear line, Rocha introduced a maritime vibe with ‘Navy like the sea’ peacoats and strong tailoring and accessories.
She revisited the theme of the ‘Pony Kids’ again – so it was appropriate that photographer Perry Ogden, who took the images of urban kids with horses in Dublin back in the 1990s, should walk in the show. He cut a dashing figure, wearing a double-breasted coat in Linton tweed cut with glittering lurex.
After 13 years in business, Rocha has worked with a group of collaborators to reinterpret her logo as a play on identity. The end result appeared as a graphic stone print and as applique on pieces, including the plain white but embellished round-bottom shirt dress worn by Irish actress Olwen Fouéré.