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Suzy Menkes

Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.

London: Keep the Red Flag Flying Here

Changes in British politics are already showing up in fashion

21 Сентября 2015

Concrete realities: the entrance to the Hunter Original show for London Fashion Week, spring-summer 2016
Concrete realities: the entrance to the Hunter Original show for London Fashion Week, spring-summer 2016

The sudden excitement over Jeremy Corbyn, the silver-bearded, vest-wearing, Left-leaning veteran British politician, is the talk of London town.

But while the new Labour leader is keeping the Red Flag flying, fashion, as ever, has got there first.

Instead of the elegant background of Somerset House for the past six years, the spring-summer 2016 shows are being presented in a car park in London’s gritty Soho.


Let’s call it the People’s Republic of Fashion, where anyone can gape at and snap the professionals as we mount the asphalt ramps. And in neighbouring Golden Square, the shows are streamed live to anyone who wants to show up and fight for a seat.


No wonder that front-row guests have swapped dainty heeled shoes for sneakers. This is a class war going on. 

Sounds surreal? It was in the case of Faustine Steinmetz. The designer took Salvador Dali as her mentor and produced a finely edited show that had the models reduced to an arm pushing through the backdrop or a disembodied hand dangling a bag.


The designer said that she wanted the freedom “to create one object”. And these individual parts of the body on display helped the focus. Important too is Faustine’s use of ethical denim — green often being the new red in the world of politics.


Jasper Conran was unrelentingly green, with vertical and horizontal stripes, leafy patterns and traces of greenery all echoing the pattern of the running stream painted on the catwalk.

“Underwater, over water, by the water, lots of prints and lots of knits,” Jasper said in summary of his straightforward show.


Rubber boots elevated to fashion’s high end? Surely the success of Hunter is symbolic of the common touch. If spindly high heels and highly polished shoes are the uniform of the super rich stepping inside limousines, rather than into rain puddles, Hunter has brought outdoor wear into fashion’s cityscape. 

This season Alasdhair Willis turned the muddy floor into a replica of the Glastonbury festival, a byword in Britain for city music lovers slumming it in the countryside. With tent rip-tops overhead, nylon capes, rivets piercing jackets and new versions of waterproof shoes from clogs to brogues, Willis proved that rain can reign with style.


This was the most plausible collection the creative director has produced for Hunter Original. By taking genuine tent-wear fabrics such as vinyl and nylon, but colouring them pink and yellow as if the sun were setting over the festival fields, there was enough irony and wit to make the brand seem steeped in the 21st century. 

For his spring-summer 2016 collection for Hunter Original, Alasdhair Willis recreated the feel of a summer music festival on the catwalk, complete with tents and mud
For his spring-summer 2016 collection for Hunter Original, Alasdhair Willis recreated the feel of a summer music festival on the catwalk, complete with tents and mud

What else had a sense of an updated, Left-loving Rule Britannia?

The designer Faustine Steinmetz at her show at London Fashion Week on Saturday 19 September
The designer Faustine Steinmetz at her show at London Fashion Week on Saturday 19 September

Sibling was the usual merry romp, channelling the South of France when it was called “the Riviera” and Bridget Bardot was thrusting forth in her bikini.


The Sibling version of Cannes show-off wear was bikini bottoms, split skirts, and clinging dresses with ivy prints and leopard patterns in unnatural colours. The only on-trend message seemed to be the use of the people’s cloth: plastic.


Holly Fulton has grown up, her clothes streamlined in cut and decorated in intriguing ways. There might be a curl of pink frill on a sober dress or perhaps a graphic pattern in crystal.


The designer was inspired by 1930s artist Eileen Agar, whose Scottish-South American background was behind Fulton’s collages of colour and pattern.

And what could be more politically correct - in England or elsewhere - than a collaboration in the mind of two intelligent, artistic women?


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