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Big Dress Energy Rules At 16Arlington, Roksanda And Molly Goddard

runway rundown lfw day 2 part 1
The Runway Rundown: LFW Day Two, Part OneTristan Fewings

Swish, swish, swish went the start of the Saturday of London Fashion Week as designers confirmed the staying power of a voluminous silhouette centred on the skirt. At 16Arlington, Marco Capaldo stepped out of his sequin spotlight to instead embrace the darker side with an opening selection of all-black gowns veering on the witchy, while Roksanda and Molly Goddard headed into a more fluorescent direction, each punctuating their collections with neon brights.

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Courtesy of Hearst.

Here, everything to know about Saturday’s opening shows on day two of London Fashion Week.

The References

Each of these three designers had source material to inspire the collections, which came from far-reaching touch points.

First, 16Arlington's Marco Capaldo explored the idea of the monster, inspired by the exhibition, ‘My Head is a Haunted House’, curated by Charlie Fox and held at Sadie Coles HQ in 2019. ‘It's my obligation as a creative to put my view on something that inspires me,’ he said of perhaps his most direct source of inspiration yet. ‘But I wanted to ensure that I really paid homage to the source and gave it the respect that it deserves. I think the source could be deemed as literal, but what I extract from it is very niche,' said the brand’s co-founder and creative director in a pre-show preview with ELLE UK.

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What largely came next was a desire to explore the idea of the monster. Through his research, Capaldo then offered that he had come to understand that: ‘what society deems as monstrous is, is something that society is afraid of.’ It translated into a darker aesthetic for the brand, to prove a new depth and substance for 16Arlington.

Roksanda was inspired by the work of Swiss-French architect Corbusier, having visited the place where he spent his final summers. ‘We started by looking at these incredible tapestries and weavings that are based on wall murals that he did,’ she explained, with this evident in the pieces that came towards the end of the show. The surroundings of his habitat also carried across to the moodboard. ‘The dresses at the end are resembling waves hitting the shore during the storms of France, which become really beautiful,’ she added.

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Courtesy of MOLLY GODDARD

Goddard has never been literal with her influences, letting draping and silhouette lead the way. ‘We always start with a fitting, creating the silhouettes and figuring out the textures and the fabrics and what we can do then work with those manipulations,’ she explained. But, here, amongst the familiar were subtle nods to Western motifs, across intarsia knits and top-handle bags. Here was Goddard following her own lead, pulling upon the pieces found on her own eBay watchlist, most of which are childrenswear. ‘It has a lot of kids' western clothes on there and so we’ve got that coming in with the trompe-l'œil detailing or the shoes which are round-toe softened cowboy boots.’ Elsewhere on the moodboard, Goddard was self-referential including photographs from her BA collection. ‘I always like looking back at my old toiles,’ she said.

The Clothes

When it came to reinterpreting the monster, Capaldo was never going to freely abandon the glamour 16Arlington has become known and relied upon for, but here he showed, in obtuse colour combinations, that he’s not afraid to experiment with the ugly. ‘On paper, they don’t necessarily work,’ he admitted. ‘But as a combination, it creates something that is actually very beautiful.’ The monstrous was then most visible in flashes of texture placed at random, growing over shoulders or from the hip, while ostrich leather bags were worn huge, playing with the double entendre of monstrous size.

He also spoke of the movement of the monster and the idea of how it lurks, which he reflected in the movement of his ladylike, elegant silhouette with prints of distorted gingham abandoning fairytale ideals while still making for utterly wearable clothing. The silver lamé looks, including a particularly fantastical closing gown, took the idea of the monster’s interior beauty with a remarkable construction in action, with each sewn in chevron patterns hinting at not only the brand’s creative development but of its atelier’s expansion too.

Roksanda explained she was especially excited about the increasing number of tailoring looks included in the collection. Overall, there was a move to pieces that felt protective, cocooning even. Roksanda, the designer and the brand, has always been able to craft a community around her and she said this had moved forward obviously in these blanket-wrap pieces.

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‘This is a brand designed by women for women, and women who support each other. It’s very important to me and that I and the brand stand for that,’ she shared. ‘I have been doing this for nearly 20 years and I would like that to be our legacy. Obviously, there is the more artisanal element and craft of playing and experimenting with shapes and colours, but it’s that other element of shelter protection and support, and a very strong kind of female community too.’

The women that make up Roksanda’s community will particularly enjoy picking apart the pieces that came layered at the show, be it the introduction of cleverly slashed skirts or those tailoring pieces, through to the hyper-elegant gowns packed with technical details that married the sportswear touches throughout with the volume and play with colour Roksanda is best known for.

Goddard too played with an extreme take on layering with most exits made up of multiple pieces, or the intention to appear as so. ‘It was also quite fun making looks that contain pieces that are very wearable pieces, but as a look they're maybe not as day-to-day appropriate,’ she said of the mix of taffeta and tulle pieces in balloon-like silhouettes, that shroud the wearer in neon shades mixed with ultimately moodier hues, and those layered with cocoon-shaped knitwear decorated with homespun style corsages. ‘The taffeta and the tulle blurs together to make one mega look but when you pull it apart all the pieces are quite individually easy but we've decided to smush them all together to make a big blobby look.’ You can but admire Goddard’s willingness to speak of the words blob or smush, neither of which have hanger appeal. But that’s forever Goddard's MO. When the dresses perhaps veer into this girlish, childlike territory, she’s always been willing and able to pull them back to something unashamedly awkward or alternative for her customer who is always willing to turn up the volume at Molly's command.

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The Front Row

Alexa Chung made her first front-row pitstop of London Fashion Week to 16Arlington. If London Fashion Week is so much about community then this proved it, just several weeks after she wore 16Arlington (not for the first time) to the British Fashion Awards. This time she left the sequins behind to wear the Vezile dress. The same can be said for Heartstopper’s Sebastian Croft who was also dressed by the brand that night and this time sat front row. Joining them was more of Capaldo’s ever-devoted, ever-intrigued set including actors Honor Swinton Byrne, Simone Ashley and Sabrina Elba, as well as figures from the art world like Rhea Dillon and George Ruoy.

london, england february 17 sebastian croft l and alexa chung attend the 16arlington show during london fashion week february 2024 on february 17, 2024 in london, england photo by jed cullendave benettgetty images
Sebastian Croft and Alexa Chung at 16Arlington.Dave Benett

At Roksanda, midday gowns were the order of the day as front-row guests donned their finest for the occasion. Zawe Ashton arrived wearing a cerulean blue dress that piled neatly as she sat, while rapper Eve belted her fiery red gown and Miquita Oliver wore a streamlined flocked two-piece. But, it was Law Roach everyone wanted to talk to. Just the day before (or moreover, impressively the day before), Roach had secured the show’s aubergine long-line suit opening look for Zendaya to wear for Dune: Part Two press. Sure there’s fresh from the runway but with Roach you get before-it’s-been-seen.

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The Roksanda front row, including Golda Rosheuvel, Law Roach, Lianne La Havas, Miquita Oliver, Eve and Noella Coursaris.Getty Images

Speaking of her woman who love the brand, Roksanda said: ‘It's important to try to think about all those different women that love the brand and keep coming back to us. What all my women have in common is that they are women who really appreciate craft, but who dress to have fun with fashion, to experience something that will make them feel better, that will make them feel curious, that will make them stand out.’

Over to Molly Goddard and besides the rows of editors who sported their own Molly pieces for the occasion, be it long-loved tulle skirts, intarsia knits or the new influx of ballet pumps and ruched handbags, was a front row that proved the hidden dexterity that exists within Goddard’s work. Consider Saltburn star Rosamund Pike who turned up wearing a natty party dress with a blazer thrown over to sit next to long-time Molly girl (be it on the catwalk or otherwise) Edie Campbell, who wore a more relaxed iteration of the brand’s aesthetic in a knit vest. Others in attendance included Kaya Scodelario, Pixie Geldof and musicians Laufey and Cherise.

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Edie Campbell and Rosamund Pike.Darren Gerrish

The Sets

From the minute you entered the 16Arlington show space, at The Barbican’s Curve Gallery, you knew things were heading in a darker direction for the brand as a run of spotlights was the only light sauce amongst the pitch-black setting. ‘To present my work in such a monumental art space, when the collection has been inspired by artwork really excites me,’ said Capaldo. ‘With the set being the curve, we are very much leaning into the architecture of the building but in being continuous it also means you don't quite know what's lurking around the corner. We're going to see the models enter one way and exit another to ask “Where are they going? Will I see them again?” I love that idea of continuation.’

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While it might be Capaldo’s first time showing in a place of art history, it marks a return to form for Roksanda who, along with being the woman whose clothing takes up a large part of the art industry’s wardrobe, has long shown in such places. This time it was the intimate top floor of the Tate Britain in its members' space. Light flowed through the windows as guests lined the marble rotunda setting.

london, england february 17 a model walks the runway at the roksanda show during london fashion week february 2024 on february 17, 2024 in london, england photo by hoda davainedave benettgetty images
Dave Benett

Goddard’s clothes, known for their proportions, need a roomy space to allow them to move freely as intended. This time, the designer opted to show her collection at Cecil Sharp Houses, the home of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, where walls were lined with abstract murals, acting as an apt reflection of the movement of the clothes.


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