More and more of the on-schedule designers are going off-piste for their Fashion Month shows. As Anna Wintour recently said in a video editorial for Vogue Runway: “No longer are we seeing a schlep of anonymous, sad looking models walking the runway in the standard white box, we’re being invited into restaurants, and to new and exciting venues like the Yves Saint Laurent show that took place by the Eiffel Tower on a beautiful evening”. It’s true Voyeurs, the Karl Lagerfeld effect has massively influenced show season and for us to sit up and take notice, the show itself needs to be as spectacular as the garments we’re there to view.
For FW18 London picked up the baton from a super boring New York Fashion Week and breathed into it new life. From the emerging talent at Fashion Scout, to the more established on and off schedule houses, London Fashion Week’s FW18 season packed a real punch and with it, came an uplifted, happier vibe. From the colour and texture driven presentations at Alexander White and Merchant Archive, to the spooky fun Starsica runway show that took a huge step away from the norm cementing it as one of the most memorable of the season, London Fashion Week brought Fashion Month to life.
It should come as no surprise then, that London’s patriarch of fashion, Paul Costelloe, put on a runway show, presentation and live performance rolled into one for FW18 that brought a little Parisian chic to the UK capital. Costelloe is to London Fashion Week what Lagerfeld is to Paris Fashion Week. A stalwart and powerhouse who evolves with each season, reacting to not just expectations in fashion, but also sustainability, technology and the time in which we live. For FW18, the house of Paul Costelloe invited a select group of the global fashion media and buyers into the Waldorf Hotel for a breathtaking show which saw the typical Costelloe textures injected with a youthful edge.
I arrived at the show at The Waldorf Hotel on the wettest day of Fashion Week. Not only that, but moments before entering the hotel I was covered head to foot in puddle juice after a truck saw a roadside opportunity not to be missed. I was wet and pissed off Voyeurs, and looked like crap. I spent about three minutes attempting to dry my hair under a hand dryer only to discover that it looked worse than when it was drenched with London puddle and after booking an emergency blowdry at SHOW Beauty I thought fuck it, I’m going in….
I won’t say I wasn’t huffy, I was, and there’s photographic evidence to support that. But like a pro, I took my seat and waited to see what Paul Costelloe had in store for us.
The co-ed collection from the fashion giant is a subtle reflection on an Irish heritage of leaving homelands in search of new life and new dreams, disembarking from the landing stage of Ellis island, ready to join millions of others in search of a new identity and creating a culture of endless diversity.
Key pieces in the collection feature heavy plaid tweeds from Magee of Ireland’s County Donegal alongside Costelloe’s signature tailoring. The British and Irish narrative is worked into full length coats and high waisted trousers which echo that American aesthetic of the 50’s. Distressed jacquards from Lanificio di Sordevolo in the Italian province of Biella compliment this International offering. The room lends itself perfectly to the show in this format, models walk the runway four at a time in choreographed steps in order to give a fully immersive view of each piece. In a London Fashion Week first, the whole event was filmed and broadcast via Insta360 allowing the viewer into the show as if they were right there in the audience.
The custom prints featured in the show came from second generation Costelloe by way of William Costelloe Design, making it feel like we were experiencing something truly special. If you’re a fan of Costelloe’s work, you’ll know that texture is a huge feature, often used as a total juxtaposition throughout his body of work, FW18 saw heavy tweed paired with polished latex and leather to create a new branch of Costelloe DNA. As a live band played, the looks kept coming and once the show was over, guests were invited back into the room for an informal presentation. As far as shows go, this is the most chilled I’ve been to in a long while. Models came out on to the floor wearing key looks from the collection on rotation and guests we able to touch fabrics and really get up close and personal with the pieces. Trust me, you’ve never felt a tweed weight like the one on this amazing swing coat, it’s to die for.
As the band played an awesome cover of the Old Crow Medicine Show version of Wagon Wheel, I got a chance to have a little chat with the man himself who paused mid-sentence to yell for the band to “keep playing”. So what did he tell me? Well we talked about tartan, heavy denim, Paris and the collection obvs. But most memorable? That would be when he told me my eyebrows were “amazing” and left me with the parting words: “Never let anybody tell you to change your eyebrows, seriously, don’t let anybody force you to change them, they’re amazing.” and with that, Paul Costelloe danced away into the crowd…