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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Laura Antonia Jordan

London Fashion Week day 2 featured cigarettes and coffee (on and off the catwalk)

Day two of London Fashion Week’s autumn/winter 2023 collections and we have a contender for the surprise viral accessory of the season: David Koma’s crystal encrusted cigarettes.

Obviously we’ll caveat that by saying – smoking is bad for you, don’t start – but fashion does love a Marlboro Light. It also loves coffee, which was served courtesy of Marco Capaldo’s brilliant 16Arlington show, Wake, where recycled grounds of the stuff were on the floor. It was partly a nod to his Italian heritage, as well as the idea of being jolted to life. More into green tea for your kicks? According to makeup maestro Isamaya Ffrench, the woman behind the beauty at Chet Lo, the dyed tongues ‘tasted like matcha’.

David Koma AW23 (Imaxtree)
David Koma AW23 (Imaxtree)

Like Capaldo, Lo was thinking about finding light in darkness. Departing from his usual hyper-bright palette, this season black took the spotlight. Day two was defined by a quiet, grounded, intimate energy. Look at Molly Goddard who swapped her regular space – the vast Seymour Leisure Centre – for her own east London studio. The smaller, stripped back venue allowed pieces that were less obvious headliners than her signature explosive tulle dresses – neat knits, great coats, streamlined skirts – to have their much-deserved moment centre stage.

Roksanda Ilinčić also downscaled her venue, decamping from locations like the Tate Britain or the Serpentine Pavilion to Claridges’ French Salon and Drawing Room. Deliberately cultivating intimacy, she encouraged the idea of her sculptural, architectural dresses sweeping over the guests. She wanted us to really see and appreciate the craftsmanship and fabrics. She was emphasising the human touch behind the clothes.

Molly Goaddard AW23 (Imaxtree)

Simone Rocha, meanwhile, was also on grounded mode. Her clothes – modelled by grown-up women of substance, like Samantha Morton and Karen Elson – had a tactile reverence that deserved to be appreciated up close. There was a bucolic beauty to the collection, inspired by the Irish harvest festival Lughnasadh. Raffia stuffed skirts and dresses, trailing ribbons and undone hair falling over the face, exemplified the tension that she is an expert at portraying. The prim, Catholic shapes were shot through with a sexy subversion as if asking the question: what were you doing in those hay bales?

Simone Rocha AW23 (Imaxtree)
Mowalola AW23 (Imaxtree)

Day two was bookended by two impressive young talents: Ahluwalia and Mowalola. Priya Ahluwalia opened the day with a tribute to the music of her youth - a saxophonist delivered renditions of Lauryn Hill, Gyptian and even Wayne Wonder’s ‘No Letting Go’, whilst Missy Elliot closed us out (much to the delight of the front row, which was made up of musicians Mahalia, Arlo Parks and Leigh-Anne Pinnock, who all nodded along). At Mowalola, her staple pubic-bone-grazing waistline dropped even lower. ‘Bumsters’ became ‘thighsters’, whilst the average age of the models dropped too as a seven-month-old baby, the son of artist Ola Olu Slawn, made his runway debut.

For day three, a gear shift. Julien MacDonald makes his return to the London Fashion Week schedule. Wait and see, but here’s a punt: there will still be space for some razzmatazz.

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