A very Celtic moment in London Fashion Week, with two striking collections by Irish designers Simone Rocha and Robyn Lynch, staged after a moment of fashion grace at Roksanda and pungent glamour at David Koma. Fashion Network followed the afternoon chronologically.

David Koma: Marlene Dietrich mode

The art of seduction was the leitmotif of the latest collection from David Koma, and its well spring was the life and career of Marlene Dietrich.

David Koma – Fall-Winter 2023 – 2024 – Womenswear – Royaume-Uni – Londres – © ImaxTree

Actress, singer, femme fatale and iconoclast, Marlene would surely have enjoyed this fall winter 2023 collection, most of which was designed for making nightclub entrances.
Much of the photography of Dietrich is in black and white, as was this collection – from the opening looks – a big-shouldered bolero worn with leotard, men’s white shirt and black tie and barely-there tulle skirt; or a man’s shirt cut into a mini cocktail – both worn over thigh-high leather boots.

Just like the heartbreakingly beautiful German actress, the designer blended masculine and feminine – from tuxedo shirt dresses and black leather spy coats to boyfriends’ blazers and bad-girl motorcycle jackets.
With dozens of leotards, micro slip dresses and bras there were acres of flesh on display. One needs a good figure to wear Koma, but those blessed with that can make men quite simply gulp.
Sinful shades of red were a key signature, as Koma pulled off some clever technical feats, by using leather painted over with nail polish. The inventive material seen in bra tops, gloves, wristbands, chainmail like cocktails, often jazzed up with silver metal rosettes.
Like Dietrich, the Koma girl is a smoker, seen in a trio of runway models with cigarettes. Not lit, since they were made of resin and then covered in silver.
“Dietrich epitomize modern woman, she was so open-minded and forward thinking,” said Koma, who held his show in a brand-new office building with huge views over City of London skyscrapers.
“I wanted her balance of masculine and feminine. And the key aspects of glamour –  red nail varnish, satin lapels and red lips, mixing two revolutionary eras – 30s and 60s,” concluded Korma.

Roksanda: Gutai grandeur in Claridge’s

A moment of grace at Roksanda, in a melodic show staged inside Claridge’s and accompanied by poetess Arch Hades.

Roksanda fall/winter 2023 collection – Roksanda

Inspired by the Atsuko Tanaka, the collection was a marvellous meeting of Roksanda’s subtle sense of volume and the post-war Japanese artist’s unique take on abstract expressionism.
Just 24 looks, opening with grand throws finished with the twisting red circles one associates with Tanaka’s early creations.
Hades’ voice blending with the orchestral composition Preludium c-moll by Hania Rani and Dobrawa Czocher, as the cast sauntered about.
Using hyper luxurious silks, Roksanda draped with abandon; colorful layering creating innovative trompe-l’oeil effects. 
And by adding shards of foil and crushed taffeta she referenced Tanaka’s legendary Electric Dress, a 50-kilo gown covered in 200 lightbulbs in which she toured an art gallery in a legendary opening. 
Several memorable silk organza dresses looked crushed and hammered into shape, again referencing Tanaka’s key theme of the conflict between industrialization and human needs. Circles, abstract expressionism smears suggested the Japanese artist, all the way to the sculptural magenta and yellow chiffon dresses held up with hoops and tubes, that resembled Tanaka’s final work.
“I was inspired by Tanaka, and not just by her work but her theme of technology against mankind. And the fact she was abandoned by the founder of the Gutai movement, after she took the spotlight and overshadowed him. So, I wanted a certain intimacy. Hence Claridge’s,” explained the ever-gentile Roksanda, standing beside Hades.
“It felt like an organic relationship. The piece I am wearing I saw at Roksanda’s last show. So, it’s such an honor to be standing here wearing a work of art and being part of this show” said Arch Hades, who read a canto from her fourth book Arcadia.
On her day, and this was very much one of them, Roksanda can be a creator of poetically beautiful fashion with few rivals. This Saturday in Mayfair was one of those days.

Robyn Lynch: Souvenir sizzle

The Irish Tourist Board should really give Robin Lynch a grant, or at the very least a medal.

Robyn Lynch – Fall-Winter2023 – 2024 – Menswear – Royaume-Uni – Londres – © ImaxTree

Shamrocks, tri-color flags, leprechauns and Aran sweaters underpinned this collection, whose finale was all in green.
Dublin-born Lynch’s starting point was typing Irish T-shirt into Google, and the results came back from Guinness to greenery.
If that sounds a little cliché, it wasn’t, because Lynch is one of the best streetwear designers in fashion today. So, her take on souvenir style, was subtle and witty. Creating knitwear as rain gear; comic book shamrock sweatshirts; roll neck Arans and track pants.
All working in a four-shade palette of green – pale pistachio, deep sage, lizard green, phthalo green. Ironically, the elements which didn’t have Irish roots.
Backed up by a soundtrack starring a brilliant live, and red-haired harpist, Róisín Berkeley, this was thoroughly convincing show and collection. 
Lynch a serious young lady, began her show pretty much too on time, unheard of in fashion. Forcing several retirement-age critics to stand and admire the show. No harm in that, seeing that the fashion and ideas were so good.

Simone Rocha: Lughnasadh in London

Easily the biggest applause of the international runway season which reached 10 days on Sunday was for Simone Rocha, after an epochal display inside Central Westminster Hall.

Simone Rocha – Fall-Winter2023 – 2024 – Womenswear – Royaume-Uni – Londres – © ImaxTree

Rocha’s style can sometimes be a little too ethereal and even saccharine, but not this season. Where she mingled in all sorts of rough elements like straw, trapped lace and stuffed roses into her tulle bubble dresses and skirts.
She even showed black leather bomber jackets and redingotes, albeit finished with her fetish decorations – patches of pearls.
Plus, a trio of looks in crushed golden silk used in mutton-leg sleeve blouses, pleated skirts and defiant coat dresses had real punch. While negligee and slip dresses finished with scraps of lace, rosettes and strips of satin ribbon had a rich racy mood. 
All backed up by a live performance from Dublin folk quartet Lankum, with a miked-up bodhran drumming out a dramatic beat, and a lady singer delivering a magnificent final dirge.
“A twisted lullaby,” opined Simone in her notes for the show, staged inside Central Hall Westminster, a looming auditorium where the cast of this co-ed show toured the upper galleries. Starring redhead Lily Cole, and Irish photographer Perry Ogden, to win prolonged applause for Rocha. A singular designer with a unique signature style that has rarely looked more remarkable.

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