London Fashion Week SS16

Hip, happening, heavenly!

This year’s British-based Swarovski Collective sparked a style riot with their crystal-blitzed SS16 collections at London Fashion Week. David Koma, Alexander Lewis, Peter Pilotto, Thomas Tait, Haizhen Wang, and Emilia Wickstead showed off collections that displayed consummate skill and artistry, and we caught every glittering moment on the runway.

David Koma 
Sometimes ‘sculptural’ comes at the expense of feminine, but Georgia-born David Koma keeps it sensuously body-con. This signature silhouette has earned his work some big red-carpet moments and seen him appointed Creative Director of Mugler. His first collection with the Swarovski Collective kept it ‘Poise Perfect’ with a ‘Reign of Restraint’: cleverly regimented lines of crystals and tone-on-tone colors alongside Victorian ruffles and subtly industrial metal zippers. Inspired by martial arts and contemporary dance, “the idea was to achieve beautiful rich textures without being overpowering… That’s why we used tone-on-tone stones and different shades of threads to give a different angle to the texture and sparkle. We also subtly mixed crystal with Perspex and metal to give different shades. I love what Swarovski do—the collaboration feels very natural and comfortable and always gives amazing results.” 

Alexander Lewis 
A ‘fashion situationist’, Alexander Lewis isn’t constrained by industry seasons—he designs for the experiences women actually have. It’s a networked aesthetic that’s grown out of culture-clashing formative years in Brazil, UK and the US. His SS16 catwalk, entitled ‘Into the Blue’, was characterized by finely crystallized patterns shimmering across simple shifts and razor-sharp tailoring. Inspired by the themes of glass, reflection, light, cloud and natural elements in French-Lebanese artist Flavie Audi’s work, he collaborated with her to create his first collection for London Fashion Week. “I wanted to bring as many different types of crystal as possible into the collection, and we used them in different ways. From crystal fabric motifs to using crystal cupchain as a detail outlining the style lines of the dress and flowing around the body, and placing fancy and hot fix stones on top of photo prints to add emphasis.” 

Peter Pilotto 
Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos sent their models down the runway in ‘Swinging Style’, giving a fluttery-flirty twist to their trademark kaleidoscopic custom prints in a Mediterranean palette with mosaic-inspired detailing. Brightly colored crystals sparkled from asymmetric tiers of French lace and casually ruffled fabrics, with swirls and twirls of geometry adding fascinating texture and volume. “This season, we’ve inserted the crystal into graphics, closer to the skin, which is exciting. Swarovski always complements the palette; it always adds that little element of richness that we so appreciate.” 

Thomas Tait 
Cutouts resembling targets and oversized futurist silhouettes signaled the return of the Mod at Thomas Tait, the rising young design star who has come to define directional. His ‘Crystal Constellations’ collection took crystal embellishment to its limits, with constellations of embroidered crystals and studded sequences of giant globe beads on crimson mini skirts and rock-chick leggings and vests. Clear and colored stones also appeared on collars and belts, and were used as jewelry, too. “I wanted to build little things with the crystals and layer them. It was very much about playing around with the forms as building blocks, and having fun with it. It’s nice to work with things that are so expensive and precious, and to do it with a sense of fun and spontaneity.” This is how to step into the future with attitude. 

Haizhen Wang 
Classical tailoring and extreme precision define the Haizhen Wang aesthetic. So, his first collection as part of the Swarovski Collective, ‘Modular Moment’, was bound to make bold use of crystals. The effect was striking: bright lines of clear crystal appliqué outlined loosely tailored silhouettes and gave surface interest to dresses, matched with triangular panels of Crystal Rocks transfer. Chunky crystal statement chokers and geometric motifs lent sparkling accents to the monochrome mood. “The inspiration for the way I used crystal was architectural: there are a lot of lines as well as blocks of crystal in the triangle shapes. I was trying to see how to make the color and drape of the fabrics work with the weight of the crystal.” 

Emilia Wickstead 
There’s a reason why New Zealand-born Emilia Wickstead is a red carpet favorite: her modern formalwear is self-assured enough to have a sense of occasion, but with a playful sense that keeps it fresh and contemporary. The ‘Crystal Eyes’ collection was so named due to the oversize crystal eyes motif, inspired by a t-shirt in George Cukor’s 1939 film, The Women; these appeared on the shoulders of tailored tops and the hems of full skirts, complete with spidery lashes and quizzical brows. Satin collars were embroidered with a bold crystal check, while buttermilk, pink and chintzy floral jacquards were additionally embellished with a layer of beaded crystal flowers, providing a perfectly demure contrast. “Floral can be old-fashioned sometimes, but I wanted to bring it to life with crystal; I loved the contrast of having the two florals together, which had a lot of impact.”