London Fashion Week is fast approaching. The city skipped the January menswear season, and despite being the first fashion week to go digital in 2020, a jam-packed London schedule consists of a whopping majority of physical shows. Corona who? With a start date of Friday 18 February penned in the diary, this season looks like it will be all about getting up close and personal, masks and double vax required. Combining men's and women's designers under one umbrella, new guard designers Ahluwalia, Saul Nash, S.S Daley and Nensi Dojaka join established names including Simone Rocha, Molly Goddard and Per Götesson. Connor Ives is new to the schedule, but will he live up to his Sarah Mower-generated hype? Central Saint Martins' MA show is finally back with a vengeance, looking to inspire a new generation of fashion-thirsty Gen Z's, competing to get a look (and a place) in the elitist world of fashion. Then you have Ozwald Boateng - who's been missing on the schedule for 12 years and is returning in full force, with a collection that's rumoured to be about a cross-media, multi-sensory experience in celebration of Black Creative Excellence. There couldn't be more hype around the designer's elusive return.
An almost sickeningly crammed schedule such as this can leave one feeling like they're finding a needle in a haystack when it comes to knowing what to look out for. So here, we bring to you those we're most excited about this season - you're welcome.
CONNOR IVES: FRIDAY 18 FEBRUARY, 15:00 GMT
'First, the Met Ball, then Fenty, now footwear: Conner Ives is on the rise', wrote fellow Central Saint Martins Grad, Alice Cary, in Vogue last year. And she's right, like his peer Harris Reed, Ives never really 'burst' onto the scene in a way many think he did. Rather, the young designer has always just been there, bubbling away, waiting to boil when the time is right. We're talking about a designer whose clothes were stocked in Liberty London while he was still studying (and garnering the support from Rihanna and Adwoa Aboah years before he'd even set his sights on graduation). How many students can say the same post-pandemic?
NENSI DOJAKA: SATURDAY 19 FEBRUARY, 10:00 GMT
Although Nensi Dojaka is still relatively new to the scene (this is only the designer's second solo show on the schedule), Dojaka's brand feels as cherished and beloved as an old family heirloom due to their recognisable, and heavily thrifted, aesthetic. Be wary though - her designs are anything but 'old'; thoroughly proven by the influencers like Camille Charriere and supermodels such as Bella Hadid who sport her elegantly skimpy, asymmetric looks. Since winning the 2021 LVMH Prize, Dojaka and her brand have gone from strength to strength. Who will she be dressing next? Only time will tell, but we're hoping this season's casting will be more inclusive on the size front. Pre-show, why not revisit our panel discussion from last season, hosted by Zooey Gleaves.
OZWALD BOATENG: MONDAY 21 FEBRUARY, 19:30 GMT
Who is Ozwald Boateng? Where has he come from, and who has he designed for? If you're fairly new to the fashion world, worker or follower, the name probably doesn't ring much for you. But if you've been around some time, you're most likely to know that his return to the schedule is a big ol' deal. (No, seriously, it's bigger than you think). The king of Savile Row climbed high to reach fashion's top ranks in the 80s and 90s through his impeccable tailoring skills and divinely mastered pattern cutting, subsequently winning the Best Menswear Designer Award at the Trophées de la Mode in Paris, 1996, a major 2005 retrospective at the Victoria and Albert Museum and even an O.B.E in 2006. Oh yes, and those lies the industry told you about Olivier Rousteing or Virgil Abloh being the first black designers to helm a Parisian fashion house? Nope, it was Boateng, way back in 2004 when he headed up Givenchy as the brand's creative director, a role he held until 2007. So yes, big deal.
CENTRAL SAINT MARTINS MA: SUNDAY 20 FEBRUARY, 11:00 GMT
Central Saint Martins MA; ah yes, the most anticipated student show on the schedule, making everyone scramble their predictions together for who will soon fly solo. With a history of the showcase birthing talents like the imitable Lee McQueen, John Galliano, Phoebe Philo, and Riccardo Tisci, the university's MA collection is a firm show to keep marked. Also a show of strength for all who are umm-ing and ahh-ing over whether to apply for a place or not, its physical presence after two years of digital-only shows means business, and we predict the prestigious college is readier than ever to show they've still got their mojo.
ROKSANDA: MONDAY 21 FEBRUARY, 12:00 GMT
Okay, so we may have lied. Shows are back up and running physically, but what about the actual clothes? SHOWstudio aren't the only ones who are nose-diving into the metaverse; Roksanda are taking a stab at it too by partnering with Clearpay, LFW's Principal Sponsor, to bring a healthy dose of digitisation, accessibility and innovation, just in time for London Fashion Week. All we're saying is watch this space (or Roksanda's) to catch an NFT-form of a demi-couture finale look from the brand's forthcoming show.
SHOWstudio PANEL DISCUSSIONS
Fashion month means many things to many people, but here at SHOWstudio, the collective thought that runs through our minds when the busiest time of year approaches (at least for us fashion folk) is panel discussions! Yes, they are back, and truth be told, they never really went anywhere. Our in-house tech whizz Michael Gossage has also designed a new immersive virtual format so you can take a nose-deep dive into the metaverse, one piece of fashion commentary at a time. Coming up this season, we're hosting panels on the hyped New York label Collina Strada, Richard Quinn, a panel on fashion's new infatuation with digital, Gucci, Bottega Venetta, the Olsen twin's respected cult label The Row and Balenciaga. You know what to do, folks; keep an eye out on our homepage for all things time, dates and panellists. COMING SOON.