London Fashion Week Fall 2023: Burberry And JW Anderson Look Back With Pride

Expectations were high for this season’s London Fashion Week (LFW). A collective anticipation was palpable as guests sat back for Daniel Lee’s Burberry debut, JW Anderson’s dive into the archives, and what calendar mainstays had cooked up for the capital’s fashion crowd. 

What became clear early on in the schedule was that gimmicks were out. The industry waved goodbye to its previous penchant for spectacle-filled seasons, and welcomed a paired-back approach of quiet pragmatism. 

Following previous seasons packed with viral-worthy performances, designers chose to focus their attention on honing their craft.

Molly Goddard (whose collection generated $21,000 Instagram Earned Media Value (EMV), according to influencer marketing platform Lefty) invited her circle into the intimate setting of her namesake label’s atelier, where she presented a scaled-back display of the designs that have solidified her presence as a LFW pillar. 

Goddard’s preppy, tulle goodness underwent a toned-down rebrand, with the designer opting to revisit the ideas of simplicity and origin in her work. Show notes from the presentation read, “It’s not about drama or optics, but wearability and the joy of dressing.” 

Molly Goddard AW23 collection features sophisticated knitwear and tulle dresses. Photo: Molly Goddard

Influential names like Goddard prioritized streamlining over optics, showing that — this time — designers were calling for compliments for the clothes, rather than paying attention to what would make the rounds on TikTok. 

Even on Sunday, which boasted some of the biggest names of the week, London got the memo that flamboyant fashion needs a break. Sleepy models in smiley-face rompers weaved through the audience at JW Anderson, as street-cast faces chose comfort at Burberry on Monday evening, clutching checkered hot water bottles while swaddled in fur robes. 

Both designers decided to look back at their houses’ respective archives. Jonathan Anderson pulled references from his early body of work (including collections that subsequently put the British label on the high fashion map), while Lee rifled through Burberry’s dossiers for his first stint as creative director at the iconic fashion house. 

Despite mixed reviews, Burberry remained one of the top performing brands over the week (generating $1.86 million Instagram EMV in the two days following the show). Critics including Vanessa Friedman and Rachel Tashjian voiced their thoughts on the collection, while social media gave way to a slew of polarizing opinions. 

But one thing was for certain: Tisci’s tenure was officially over, and a new era for the brand had begun. JW Anderson came in at a close second ($1.6 million Instagram EMV), thanks to its tongue-in-cheek elements, such as a giant penis poster and a Tesco shopping-bag T-shirt dress.

Drawing from “British culture at large,” Jonathan Anderson’s FW23 womenswear collection includes a Tesco-themed leotard. Photo: JW Anderson

As for muses, Mother Nature was on every big brand’s mood board. Flora and fauna was a running theme across the weekend, from Christopher Kane’s dresses covered in AI-generated prints of chicks and piglets — accompanied by a soundtrack of fledgling birdsong and 1980s synth pop — to Richard Quinn ($622,000 Instagram EMV) taking his audience down the quintessentially-Quinn garden path. The British designer transformed one of London’s run-of-the-mill sports halls into a botanical nursery bursting with blooms.

Susan Fang’s ($41,000 Instagram EMV) hibiscus scattered showroom was quite literally a breath of fresh air. Paired with a balmy melody from Canadian composer Dan Snaith, better known as Caribou, the designer converted a West London gymnasium into an idyllic landscape that appeased all the senses. 3D-printed accessories and surplus fabrics from previous shows were highlights of the collection. Moreover, Fang also sent models strolling across the petalled linoleum wearing tubes that radiated a scented mist into the audience. 

Her father’s fire-safety equipment company constructed the devices. But even with these creations in tow, the show remained very low-key, with Fang refusing to distract from the paradisal setting she had so successfully rendered. 

As for Burberry, Lee chose to commemorate England’s national flower in his lineup. Recurring rose prints were given a moody makeover as Lee experimented with new house codes and colors. The newly appointed chief creative officer also honored his British roots with an unexpected motif: the mallard duck, whose distinct (presumably faux) feathers appeared emblazoned on the front of plain black turtlenecks.

Overall, this season felt like fashion’s call to put the brakes on and appreciate the beauty around us. In light of the ongoing climate emergency and conflict, and recent natural disasters, LFW was a stark reminder that the sensationalism of the runway has never been more unnecessary — and that the talent of craftsmanship will always prevail.  

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