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The top 10 moments of London Fashion Week - from a front row insider

With the world still buzzing following the style extravaganza across the water, Meadhbh McGrath highlights the major talking points from this year's event

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Models on stage during the RIXO Presentation held at the Kimpton Fitzroy Hotel as part of London Fashion Week February 2020

Models on stage during the RIXO Presentation held at the Kimpton Fitzroy Hotel as part of London Fashion Week February 2020

PA

Tommy Hilfiger was joined on stage by Lewis Hamilton and Naomi Campbell. Photo: Getty Images

Tommy Hilfiger was joined on stage by Lewis Hamilton and Naomi Campbell. Photo: Getty Images

Getty Images for Tommy Hilfiger

Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham

Anya Hindmarch launched her ‘I AM A plastic bag’ collection

Anya Hindmarch launched her ‘I AM A plastic bag’ collection

JW Anderson played with volume

JW Anderson played with volume

Christian Lacroix teamed up with Rixo

Christian Lacroix teamed up with Rixo

Victoria Beckham went big on knee-length skirts. Photo: Getty Images

Victoria Beckham went big on knee-length skirts. Photo: Getty Images

AFP via Getty Images

Burberry reembraced the house check

Burberry reembraced the house check

REUTERS

Erdem had lots of silver

Erdem had lots of silver

PA

One of Simone Rocha’s brides

One of Simone Rocha’s brides

Richard Quinn’s collection. Photo: PA

Richard Quinn’s collection. Photo: PA

PA

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Models on stage during the RIXO Presentation held at the Kimpton Fitzroy Hotel as part of London Fashion Week February 2020

London Fashion Week came to a close on Tuesday, wrapping up five days of shows where established and emerging names grappled with Brexit, Instagram vitality and calls for greater sustainability. Here, we count down the 10 standout moments.

1. Lena Dunham makes her catwalk debut

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Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham

 

For its first catwalk show, 16Arlington enlisted a new friend to model: Lena Dunham. With wet hair, red lips and a gold floral mini dress, the Girls star joined a cast of many shapes and sizes to present a collection of sharp tailoring and elevated partywear. The designers, who described the show as "a celebration of the female form", have pledged to extend their offering to a size 18 - a rarity in luxury fashion.

2. What's old is new

Although last season culminated in a funeral procession from Extinction Rebellion, the mood this week was hopeful: the British Fashion Council announced plastic-free initiatives and hosted a swap shop; Anya Hindmarch launched her 'I AM A Plastic Bag' collection; and upcycling enjoyed a genuine fashion moment, thanks to Matty Bovan's repurposed Fiorucci denim and Richard Malone's patchwork evening gowns, created using September's offcuts. The Wexford-born designer won the Woolmark Prize for his commitment to transparency in his supply chain - going so far as to share a mission statement with show-goers, outlining even the £25 hourly rate for his local tailors and cutters.

3. Clothes to live in

Another definition of sustainable fashion? Clothes that exist outside of trends, that women will love and want to wear time and again. While there was still plenty of Insta-bait, the shows that stood out were the ones that prioritised personal style and valued their audience as women rather than 'consumers'. Simone Rocha, Victoria Beckham and Roksanda Ilincic are all women designing for real women, and Ilincic lined her front row with the likes of Cate Blanchett, Sinead Burke, Vanessa Redgrave and Sheila Atim to illustrate just what that looks like. Derry-born JW Anderson, meanwhile, breathed new life into familiar staples such as the trench coat, tuxedo and LBD, playing with volume and scattering cellophane fringe on top to make his pieces truly unique.

4. Tommy's tour de force

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Tommy Hilfiger was joined on stage by Lewis Hamilton and Naomi Campbell. Photo: Getty Images

Tommy Hilfiger was joined on stage by Lewis Hamilton and Naomi Campbell. Photo: Getty Images

Getty Images for Tommy Hilfiger

Tommy Hilfiger was joined on stage by Lewis Hamilton and Naomi Campbell. Photo: Getty Images

 

Tommy Hilfiger brought his see-now-buy-now show to London in recognition of his latest collaborator, Lewis Hamilton. The collection - a spectacle of high-octane Americana meets streetwear - was highly bankable, but all eyes were on the starry cast, including catwalk veterans Naomi Campbell, Erin O'Connor and Yasmin Le Bon, and celebrity offspring Lucas Jagger, Pixie Geldof and Lennon Gallagher.

5. It's Lacroix, sweetie!

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Christian Lacroix teamed up with Rixo

Christian Lacroix teamed up with Rixo

Christian Lacroix teamed up with Rixo

 

Following Christian Lacroix's collaboration with Dries Van Noten last year, the house bearing his name has teamed up with street style favourite Rixo. Founders Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McCloskey dove into the archives and put their own exuberant spin on the vintage prints for a limited edition collection, presented in a ballroom filled with Marie Antoinette-inspired macaron towers and meringues.

6. A knees-up with VB

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British fashion designer Victoria Beckham reacts after presenting creations for her Autumn/Winter 2020 collection on the third day of London Fashion Week in London on February 16, 2020. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

British fashion designer Victoria Beckham reacts after presenting creations for her Autumn/Winter 2020 collection on the third day of London Fashion Week in London on February 16, 2020. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

AFP via Getty Images

British fashion designer Victoria Beckham reacts after presenting creations for her Autumn/Winter 2020 collection on the third day of London Fashion Week in London on February 16, 2020. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

 

Spice Girls fans will have been thrilled to see platform boots stomping down Victoria Beckham's catwalk, but even more notable were the higher hemlines. Known for her midis, this season the knee-length skirt reigned, worn with blouses and V-neck jumpers. Prepare for a comeback.

7. Best of British

The B-word was notable for its absence, and the only brand to really give a hard sell on Britishness was Burberry, where Italian creative director Riccardo Tisci reflected on his student days in London, toning down the logo-heavy sportswear, re-embracing the house check and deconstructing the rugby shirt. Equestrian chic made a strong showing, too, with jodhpurs, quilted jackets and glossy knee boots recalling Jilly Cooper's Riders, another unmistakably British classic. Richard Quinn offered a more meaningful homage with his take on the working-class tradition of Pearly King and Queens: an opening trio of extraordinary pearl-embellished looks, the last emblazoned with "God Save the Quinn".

8. The new 20s

Cecil Beaton's photographs of the glamorous 'Bright Young Things' of the 1920s provided the source material for Erdem this season. And what will the Bright Young Things of 2020 be wearing? Satin tea dresses with a cardi shrugged off one shoulder, checkerboard prints, flatform sandals and lots of silver - nods to the past created with modern lifestyles in mind. JW Anderson also looked to the 1920s, with shawl-collar swing coats and bubble-hem gowns that felt fresh rather than purely nostalgic.

9. Here come the brides

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Changing times: One of Simone Rocha’s compelling bridal designs

Changing times: One of Simone Rocha’s compelling bridal designs

Changing times: One of Simone Rocha’s compelling bridal designs

 

In a collection inspired by the Aran Islands, it was no surprise Aran jumpers played a starring role in Simone Rocha's show, but even more striking was her parade of brides, adorned with crystal headbands and long lace veils. Richard Quinn, too, closed his show with a bride in an embroidered hood and ivory satin gown - definite marriage potential.

10. Go big or go home

London is known for its creativity and independent spirit, and even as the country faces an identity crisis, designers are still dreaming big. Richard Quinn's ambition knows no bounds: he presented a collection of floor-filling gowns, lavish puffballs and signature latex masks dubbed "House of Quinn", and his enthusiasm was infectious - even the models were beaming. Matty Bovan gleefully tested the limits of 'wearability' with disproportionate silhouettes and curtain-framed gowns, rigged up by master milliner Stephen Jones. And Ashish rounded out the week by posing the question: "What brings you joy?" His rainbow sequins, graphic dogtooth and disco take on a lumberjack shirt certainly did the job, delivering a cheerful antidote to these uncertain, unsettled times.

Irish Independent