In the middle of fashion month, London becomes the pinnacle of creative expression. Hailed as the birthplace of many fashion movements, the city hosts a multitude of shows, from famous comebacks such as Daniel Lee’s second show for Burberry to recipients of the British Fashion Council NEWGEN Sponsorship.
Straight from London comes one of the newest names in high fashion, having graduated from Central Saint Martins like many greats before him only in 2016. Richard Quinn started as a print designer, which becomes obvious from the collections he has presented so far, full of various botanical prints. With audiences being transported into a magical garden full of kaleidoscopic floral designs true to Quinn’s signature style, this collection is no different.
Born in Lewisham, Richard Quinn completed a BA in Fashion Print and an MA in Fashion from Central Saint Martins, the last of which he received a Stella McCartney Scholarship. In 2016, his graduate collection won the H&M Design Award, helping him design some of the pieces shown for select H&M stores to be sold the following year. Later in 2017, he was awarded a full NEWGEN sponsorship that enabled him to present a collection at the following London Fashion Week.
Quinn is no stranger to global recognition by celebrities and royals, having “stolen” Amal Clooney from Tom Ford and dressing her for the Met Gala in 2018 instead of being the designer of the first commercial runway show attended by Queen Elizabeth II. This recognition has helped him become a household name in the global fashion world.
At the ballroom of the Andaz Hotel, Quinn placed a white rose on every seat in the venue in memory of his father and to dedicate the collection to him, according to @stylenotcom on Instagram. Quinn started the show with a ballet performance by dancers wearing his creations, to create the atmosphere of an “ethereal and spiritual collection” without giving up the “intricate garments” he was known for as he shared in a preview.
The dress worn by the dancers was a maxi dress made of layers and layers of black tulle, cinching at the waist with a straight neckline made of black satin bows. True to Quinn’s style, the dress was embroidered with dozens of white flowers, creating the appearance of a garden. From the first few looks, we can see how this collection differentiated itself from past ones, including the previous one during June 2023 London Fashion Week. Quinn’s Autumn/Winter 2023 collection featured “heavier” looks, continuing the botanical theme but using a condensed version of the floral patterns to make it more overwhelming to the eye. The flowers so close together created a darker theme too in terms of colour palette, which is a slight contrast to this collection’s more ethereal theme. The patterns here seem more uniform, and more thought out, with, in my opinion, the use of a greater variety of silhouettes. The focus on flowers continued for most of the collection, with different techniques being used to incorporate them into the outfits, from prints to beading.
The collection then shifted towards more structured outfits, with the highlight being the two boned skirts in the shape of birdcages. The rigidity of the gowns showed the level of craftsmanship put into this collection and continuing the theme of flowers made it cohesive. Although a collection has to differentiate itself in some way from the previous ones, I cannot help but think that Quinn could have been less intentional and uniform with the placing of the flower print in the gown above. Instead of making both the structure and print of the dress rigid, there could have been a flow or movement added to the overall outfit. From then on, the viewer gets out of Quinn’s “garden”. Simpler prints were shown, with black and white patterns or simple one-colour dresses prevailing. In this section of the collection, the true magic came from the fabrics used, from sequins to beading used to create the most intricate patterns. The beading used was very reminiscent of the over-the-top looks Quinn used to open his Autumn 2020 collection, placing on tailored pieces intricate white beads to form fluid shapes on the clothing. There were similarities between the embroidery of beads on the skirts from the Autumn 2020 collection and the bridal section that ended this show. Both were placed as patterns reminiscent of 17th-century embroidery often seen in depictions of the French courts of the time, such as at the time of King Louis XIV, where the extravagant dresses worn are now seen as the epitome of royal post-Renaissance fashion.
The bridal section used creamier whites and added a heavenly touch to the entire show. The bridal looks incorporated features seen throughout the collection, from ball gowns to ultra-light fabrics, to create that “ethereal” atmosphere Quinn was looking for from the start. My favourite look would have to be this long, creamy white bridal dress made of satin. Despite it being a classic silhouette seen time and time again, Quinn managed to revive it and give it a whole new elegance that is difficult to do in this age. The pleats in the gown give movement to a fabric that at times can be hard to work with, and Quinn has truly proved his craftsmanship in it.
The show closed with a golden bridal bodysuit modelled by Jessica Stam, made of thousands of draping beads all sewn together. The bodysuit was paired with a cream cape made of taffeta, with balloon sleeves and a huge ribbon at the front. Although the use of beading was cohesive with the rest of the looks and the skill that went into sewing this outfit is obvious, I cannot help but feel a little underwhelmed. The closing look of a show is supposed to be the climax of a collection, a final fusion of all other techniques and themes seen throughout. The taffeta cape recalled colours used in the bridal section, but the bodysuit seemed a bit hidden and dimmed down by the cape’s grandiosity, as well as gold not being a colour used much in this collection making this outfit a little inconsistent. What I would have liked to see is something that recalled the obvious floral themes throughout the show, and ended it maybe with a look that combined the use of flowers with a bridal dress, something Quinn is an expert at.
The complete collection was meant as an ode to Richard Quinn’s father, shown also by the Irish music mixed into the soundtrack due to both of Quinn’s parents being Irish. The floral embellishments in a lot of the looks continued what was a tradition for Quinn in terms of themes, with the later part of the collection focusing more on the types of fabric and material used rather than the prints. Throughout the show, the excellence in the craftsmanship of these outfits was obvious, from the creative mind behind them to the actual sewing of the pieces. The show received a standing ovation
Editor by Megan, Fashion Editor