LFW: Who the hell is Richard Quinn and why is he fit for a Queen? And other LFW news…

From Richard Quinn, the young designer who made history with his royal Frow to Christopher Bailey's last-ever Burberry show - here's all the LFW news...

First things first. This was going to be the usual kind of London Fashion Week chat – you know, a few trends, a few hot new labels to know, that sort of thing. But it’s all been blown out of the water by the ONLY LFW news we can think about. That’s right, the epic unseen-ever-before moment that was HRH Queen Elizabeth’s Frow debut. And not at a mega-brand show at a grand venue, either. No, HM toddled down to the good old official BFC showspace on the Strand, to watch the creations of Richard Quinn, a young designer most people have never heard of. And she actually sat on an uncomfortable plastic chair just like the rest of us hardy fashion frontliners. She did have a purple velvet cushion on it. And she did get to sit next to the other Queen of the Universe, Anna Wintour – who actually looked nervous (in Wintour world, that means a slight fiddle with her bob and a strange rictus smile). But nevertheless, throne it wasn’t. HM’s visit was cloaked in secrecy until the moment security in the BFC space suddenly got rather tense at around 3pm. The first thing the fash pack knew was when the monarch, accompanied by BFC chief executive Caroline Rush, popped up at ‘the stands’ (a room full of new brands displaying their wares)for a quick chat with a hat designer or two, en route to the Richard Quinn show. So, without further ado…

  1. Who the hell is Richard Quinn and what was The Queen doing at Quinn?

Richard Quinn only launched his label in 2016, after doing both a BA and then an MA at Central St Martin’s, having interned at both Dior and Richard James on Savile Row. He specialises in textile and fabric innovation, and has spent his first two years in business rocketing to the top of industry ‘one to watch’ lists. He’s already worked with Liberty and won H&M’s 2017 Design Award. His own designs – a riot of very English wallpaper prints and florals rendered in crazy techno fabrics – are pretty standout. He has a particular penchant for covering models’ faces in matching fabrics – eerie, but fabulous. But what’s also special is his commitment to helping fellow designers. He runs an open-access textile printing studio in Peckham, South London (he grew up nearby) to give students and other designers access to resources for a reasonable price. And that’s why Richard Quinn was picked to receive the first ever Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design— a new award that recognises British fashion’s role as one of the country’s key industries. Each recipient will be an emerging new British designer who contributes to the community and/or has strong sustainable policies, according to the BFC. The award itself was designed by the Queen’s longtime personal designer, Angela Kelly (who also attended the show). Just imagine what Richard’s proud mum and dad (who he sweetly thanked in his show notes) had to say last night…

Adwoa Aboah at Richard Quinn

 

Richard Quinn

2. Christopher Bailey has left the building. But who’s next at Burberry?

Burberry AW18

After a mammoth 17-year stint at the helm of Burberry, Christopher Bailey has left the plaid-checked building. He was the man who reinvigorated the house, turning it from a chav-check backwater into the jewel in the crown (see what we did there?) of British fashion. And bringing the chav check back as a fashion statement last season, into the bargain. Bailey’s sign-0ff was epic. One of Christopher bailey best moments. All his ‘Burberry girls’ were reunited again – number one was a certain Cara Delevingne, who he discovered and put in so many ad campaigns we’ve lost track. She returned the favour by taking a break from her starry new acting career for a catwalk return. There was Sienna Miller, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Keira Knightley…and Chelsea Clinton – who is best friends with Bailey’s husband Simon Woods (who knew?). Bailey collaborated with United Visual Artists for the lighting, and also worked in an art installation in the form of rainbow lasers – ‘Our Time’, loaned from an Australian museum. The collection was heavy on LGBT rainbows – including a special Rainbow Check collection, (which is already available to buy) sales of which will go to support LGBT charities. There were lashings of ironic sportswear (including some pretty spectacular shellsuits and tourist-tastic chunky checked trainers), and a melange of some of Bailey’s greatest hits, including shearling aviator jackets, military coats and brightly coloured dresses. Now, the big question his – who’s the new Christopher? Previous hot tip Phoebe Philo has apparently taken herself out of the running and the money’s now on Kim Jones, former head of menswear at Louis Vuitton. His gender-fluid, streetwear-inflected aesthetic would definitely take the brand to the next level of cool. Place your bets…

3. New names to know

You can always rely on London to bring all the fierce creativity and fashion craziness. And this season didn’t disappoint. Our gold medals for cool go to…

Matty Bovan

Matty Bovan

Matty Bovan has been part of new talent showcase Fashion East for three seasons, and this week saw his first solo show. The vibe: think the new Gareth Pugh (huge inflatable balloon headpieces, aggressive silhouettes), with lashings of drag queen – via Shoreditch. Uber-stylist Katie Grand is a supporter, and he’s a contributing fashion editor at Grand’s Love magazine.

Isa Arfen

Isa Arfen

Ever since she designed a colour-block ruffled blouse that sold out everywhere (it practically needed its own Instagram account), Isa Arfen (aka designer Serafina Sama) has been on the ascent. Her maximalist approach and love of bold colours are the kind of pieces a modern-day Frida Kahlo might wear – and she wowed the crowd at her first full runway show this season. Inspired by Seventies flea markets, everything about it was uplifting. From the melodious tunes of a steel band, drumming away at the end of the catwalk, to the frilly 1980s tartan and the dancing crowd of models having a party on the runway for the finale, it was one big smile of a show.

Richard Malone

Richard Malone

Hailing from Wexford in Ireland, Richard Malone is the cool new face of sustainability. His sculptural shapes in dazzling colours like cobalt blue and tomato red are made using ethical textiles and recycling a-plenty. He’s worked with a co-operative of female weavers in India since his graduate collection, and his creativity knows no bounds when it comes to making best use of existing materials – from sourcing yarn recycled from dead surplus stock, to tassells woven from recycled plastic. He designs for strong women, and he believes in diverse show casting – his model lineups represent women of every colour and ‘look’. And we love him for it.

Lastly…the pound-shop styling trick

Faustine Steinmetz


Simone Rocha

Yes, that’s right. From the smorgasbord of accessories and styling on the runways, we’ve managed to filter out a way you can give yourself a little AW18 panache on the (very) cheap. Hurrah! Pile on the haircombs. Good old claw hairclips as seen at Faustine Steinmetz and beaded overload at Simone Rocha. DIY it for pennies on Ebay….

Well, well, well. How on earth will Milan and Paris live up to the LFW that hit headlines around the globe? Stay tuned…

Reading now

Popular fashion stories