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Skin, Sparkle and Nostalgic Odes to Britain Lead Trends at London Fashion Week

Designers at London Fashion Week may have been feeling sentimental as Britain parts ways from the European Union, as many put their own unique spins on traditional sources of inspiration.

From the deconstruction of Burberry’s iconic plaid, to Richard Quinn’s avant-garde take on the embellished ensembles made famous by London’s cockney pearly kings and queens, the Fall/Winter 20-21 collections were both a nod to the past and an effervescent outlook on the future.

Here are six trends to watch for the season.

Bra top dresses

Spaghetti-strap dresses and lingerie-inspired bodices marks the return of ’90s minimalism, albeit with more personality. Building off this spring’s bra-top trend and the mainstreaming of bodysuits, designers revisited classic strappy dress silhouettes that featured exposed underwire, molded cups and bralette-like shapes.

Though the fabric choices by designers like David Koma and Christopher Kane were sheer and lacy, the F/W 20-21 versions had a sporty vibe layered over bike shorts or accentuated with cutouts. And whereas designers in New York opted for full skirts, these svelte bodices were paired with simple column shapes.

Black and white

London designers quelled fashion week goers’ thirst for British eccentricity with a parade of black-and-white houndstooth designs that smacked of nostalgia.

In British designer Richard Quinn’s ode to his country, the collection of English floral frocks was contrasted with an intense lineup of suits and mini dresses—paired with his signature face masks—covered in pearls and houndstooth patterns made from black-and-white crystals.

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David Koma focused on modern London, showing dresses adorned with shapes that mimic the city’s famous “Gherkin” building. A black-and-white houndstooth mini dress sparkled with crystals, too.

Meanwhile, Ashish designed an homage to London’s mod fashion scene. The collection channeled the ’60s with polka-dot dresses and daisy print sets and a black-and-white sequined houndstooth skirt suit punched up with yellow buttons.

Classic blue

Pantone’s 2020 Color of the Year, Classic Blue, received a resounding “yes” from London designers. The vibrant shade of royal blue was offered a myriad of forms, from basic knits to evening gowns.

Pops of blue brightened up Victoria Beckham’s collection, appearing in check shirts and dresses, sweaters with slight bell sleeves and over-the-knee leather boots. A blue coat dress was a prim yet wearable piece in Emilia Wickstead’s collection of lace crop and caped gowns. The color shined on Halpern’s runway as a satin evening suit and floated down the runway at Simone Rocha as a brocade gown.

Mixed prints

With no single print driving F/W 20-21 trends, all prints were fair game, leading to a colorful clash of designs. Mixed prints added a youthfully rebellious feeling to Erdem’s ’20s-inspired collection. A lavender floral blouse paired with a mint-green, rose-print skirt trimmed with black-and-white racing checks. A cheetah print coat was worn with a silk floral duster and trousers.

Camouflage and argyle knits were among the unexpected combinations at Preen By Thornton Bregazzi’s show. The brand sourced deadstock fabrics from English mills, leading to several unique looks. “We are not a sustainable company, but we’re trying to do what we can,” Justin Thornton, Preen’s co-founder, told Vogue.

And under designer Ricardo Tisci’s reign, Burberry presented a men’s and women’s range of reworked check prints. Along with using different types of checks, the heritage brand played with color, scale and surfaces, adding a contemporary feeling to traditional patterns.

Cold shoulder

Shoulders were a focal point at London Fashion Week. More than a simple off-the-shoulder silhouette, designers introduced creative cutouts and garments that exposed this part of the body. Burberry presented cold-shoulder knit dresses. Christopher Kane deconstructed his turtleneck ribbed knit sweaters leaving shoulders bare and Halpern offered slinky dresses with just one long sleeve.

While most of the shoulder-baring looks skewed toward ’90s minimalism and daywear, Preen By Thornton Bregazzi delivered the look in party-ready dresses.


If New York Fashion Week took home the gold, London was satisfied with silver. In a nod to the Roaring Twenties, designers offered silver looks that shimmied down the runway. Crystal fringe adorned Burberry’s silver midi-length dress, while JW Anderson decorated dresses with long silver paillettes.

Silver Lurex was the fabric of choice for Roland Mouret’s draped pieces. Silver satin was also a backdrop for Edrem’s dark floral gowns and a key color for the label’s delicate metallic lace dresses.