London Fashion Week was swiftly scaled back following the announcement of the death of the Queen – a longstanding supporter of the UK’s largest creative industry – just a week before the biannual event was due to begin.
“As a business-to-business event London Fashion Week will continue while observing Royal Protocol and the event will be dedicated to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with our own moments of respect,” the British Fashion Council said in a statement.
“Having spoken to designers and industry members, we as an industry want to unite as a creative and business community to celebrate Her Majesty’s legacy and commitment to creativity and design.”
Parties were called off, some catwalk shows (including high profile designers such as Burberry and Raf Simons) were cancelled or postponed, and all presentations due to take place on the day of the funeral were rescheduled.
Designers who did go ahead as planned paid tribute to the late Queen on the catwalk in a variety of ways. Here’s how London Fashion Week’s big names marked the occasion during a subdued spring/summer edition…
Winner of the LVMH Prize for Young Designers, Steven Stokey-Daley’s third runway presentation was based around a dramatised reading of the love letters between Vita Sackville West and Violet Trefusis.
The show opened with bells tolling, before seven black-clad models carrying white candles processed down the catwalk – which many saw as a mournful tribute to the late Queen.
“I was the first to tell her [my grandmother] the Queen had died, and she burst into tears on the phone. And I don’t know why, I felt really emotional about that,” Stokey-Daley told Vogue, admitting he has mixed feelings about the royal family: “I grapple with my personal standpoint on the monarchy, as regards to class.”
Attendees at up-and-coming designer Nensi Dojaka’s show walked over a white petal-strewn floor to reach their seats (white flowers are often used in memorial bouquets).
On the catwalk, models including Emily Ratajkowski carried delicate floral sprigs during the finale – thought to be lily of the valley, one of the Queen’s favourite flowers.
Perhaps the most literal tribute of London Fashion Week came at the JW Anderson show, which was held in a casino arcade against a backdrop of neon-lit gambling machines.
The final look at the colourful collection was an oversized black T-shirt dress emblazoned with a simple ‘Thank you’ message to the late monarch.
A minute’s silence was held in remembrance of the Queen before Christopher Kane’s show at London’s iconic Roundhouse venue.
The SS23 collection featured Kane’s signature blend of the weird (prints straight out of human anatomy textbooks and transparent latex straps that gave models fake six-packs) and the wonderful (pastel-hued blouses and lacy LBDs), as well as vibrant floral prints reminiscent of the kind the monarch used to wear.
In the show notes Kane said he was inspired by “the young Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret roaming the grounds of Balmoral”, and a cape detail jumper and skirt combo was inspired by the Queen in her last official photograph.
Michael Halpern honoured the memory of Queen Elizabeth II with the regal opening look of his show, which was presented in silence.
Inspired by a conversation Halpern had with the late monarch, in which he expressed his love of ostentation, the billowing blue cape was topped with a mint green headscarf similar to the kind worn off-duty by Her Majesty.
Erdem Moralioglu, a designer popular with royals including the Princess of Wales, dedicated his SS23 collection to the late Queen, citing one of her most famous quotes in his show notes: “Grief is the price we pay for love.”
A collection of largely pastel, white and chartreuse dresses in the designer’s typically ornate style was bookended with a handful of black and white Fifties-style tailoring and full-skirted evening looks, topped with black mourning veils.
The late monarch famously sat front row at Richard Quinn in 2018 and presented the young designer (now a major fixture on the LFW schedule) with the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design.
Recalling that iconic moment, the London-born talent dedicated SS23 to the Queen, opening the show with a series of all-black looks featuring many of her sartorial signatures – from headscarves and crowns to belted coats and ballgowns – while archive footage from her youth played on a big screen.
Black confetti rained down on the catwalk during the finale, the dramatic show celebrating the life of Quinn’s most high profile and influential supporter.