London Fashion Week AW21 | Nostalgia, Sobriety, Escapism & Sustainability



London Fashion Week autumn / winter 2021 bore witness to progressive streetwear, fairytale-like volumes, bold colours, sober colours, and classics twisted with surrealism. Find here the best designers bringing sustainability to the catwalk—or digital realm.


This season, London Fashion Week has set the stage for versatility, sobriety and escapism. Designers have shown resilience and creativity to rework styles, fabrics and concepts. Amidst a landscape of uncertainty the catwalks were filled with elegance and optimism as seen in Duro Olowu collection, whose bold colours will hopefully bring us to shine; counteracted by the increasing presence of digital technologies as shown by Accidental Cutting, who speeds the process of sustainability employing zero-waste production models. LFW ready-to-wear AW21, moreso, has underlined nostalgia and great presence of English tailoring in a context of change and uprising.



Traditional English tailoring and rebellious silhouettes pay homage to Westwood’s label archive: open eroticism, sustainability and endless stories. The modern punk party collection combines classic pieces with newly sourced materials using recycled denim, organic silks, forest positive viscose and eco printing techniques recently developed by the house. Westwood’s prêt-à-porter, once more, calls for gender fluidity, activism, historical references and environmentalism.



London-based, Turkish-born designer Bora Aksu has invoked romanticism and escapism in his collection. Pastel-hued gowns explore structured female silhouettes that are likewise counteracted by military-inspired caps and cropped tuxedo jackets. His dreamy sense of extravagance and tradition takes reference from the blossoming period that came after the French Revolution—or any other tumultuous context in history, think of the Spanish flue for instance. More specifically, his collection finds inspiration in Sophie Germain, a French mathematician who defied gender norms and status quo through intellect and endurance. In the past years, Bora Aksu has been partnered up with different projects to support social and environmental causes.



What would it be of the London Fashion Week without layers, mix-matches and theatrical catwalks? CSM graduate Matty Bovan summoned all this up in his eponymous label. His collection is a dance of layers falling on top of other layers creating geometrical shapes and drapes; adorned with big sequins that showcase reconstructed costumes that give birth to characters we haven’t met before. His collection distils escapism where his characters display turbulence and sustainability. His collection is made mostly from recycled and sustainable garments, and upcycled crystals from Swarovski. 



If you haven’t met Simone Rocha now it’s the moment—the Irish designer has been making it to the headlines not only because of collaboration with H&M but also because of handcrafted, dressmaking techniques. The reason—a mix between punk and fantasy unveils onto the stage. The Simone Rocha’s AW21 collection, ‘The Winter Roses’ focuses on the suppleness of the mesh: opulence of textile and hourglass silhouettes take over the stage. Combined with high necks, heavy platforms, voluminous shapes and playful braids unveil the most blossoming symbols associated to femininity in hand with darkness and power.



Directed by Budapest-born Sandra Sandor, a graduate at London College of Fashion, launched Nanushka in 2006. Since then, femininity and versatility has been the pillars of the brand. Last week, distinctive references of the 70’s European street style were seen at Nanushka’s catwalk. Her revisitation features a mix of satin garments, knitted jumpers, checked coats, leather trousers and jackets and pointy squared shoes with open backs. Her catwalk invoked the essence of her brand: versatility, modernity, functionality and high fashion. 



Sobriety: with great measure and structured cuts, sobriety has been spotted on the catwalks where designers seem to be more reciprocate towards a sense of stability as seen in Edeline Lee and Tiger of Sweden. The British-Canadian designer Edeline Lee brought to the stage soft fabrics and earthy colours and dark hues displaying tranquility, comfort and confidence. Tiger of Sweden, the long-established menswear brand, infused his collection ‘Life’ with classic tailoring and trench coats very reminiscent of the low-key approach to life in Sweden: walking into everyday’s life with elegance. 


Cultural heritage: Labrum London, a menswear brand whose founder Foday Dumbuya describes his brand as ‘Designed by an immigrant’, has presented his collection in a church where Western African style meets British tailoring. His collection is an ode to the black community of England in the late 1700’s, opening conversations about immigration, cultural misplacement and wed of multiculturalism. 


Sustainability experiment: Experimenting with sustainability is not only about material-sourcing. Marques’Almeida, whose collections use dead-stock materials, strives for change: where high-end ready to wear and sustainability is ultimately cool. Her autumn-winter collection uses natural dyes made from vegetable waste, recycled and biodegradable materials, all whilst avoiding completely the use of petroleum-based fibres from their production line. Her sustainability expedition goes in hand with shape, colour and art exploration, all featured in a made-to-order model.


Mix Match: What would it be of the UK without their notorious red green plaid textiles combined with pretty much anything that keeps them warm? Mix-match is afloat this season—that is to say, coats, sandals, dresses, colours and patterns find each other without following any rules at all. As seen during Coach collection, anything can go with anything. 


Floral Patterns: Floral patterns is being a trend for many years now—and it doesn’t seem to be declining. Vintage and nostalgia are more present than ever. Erdem’s new ready-to-wear collection features floral patterns against subtle colours, metallic embroidery and classic silhouettes, while Preen, in combination with bolder colours and accessories, brings the patterns to focus. Victoria Beckham, standing for femininity and modernity, mixes floral with flat patterns that unveil sensuality and minimalism. 



   +  Words: Alejandra Espinosa, Luxiders Magazine Editor

Liberal Arts graduate | Berlin-based writer

Connect with her on LinkedIn or Instagram (@sincosmostura)