While this season was set to host the much-anticipated jubilant return to regular London Fashion Week programming post-pandemic – with all the shows, parties and launches we’d seen litter the seasonal schedules pre-2020 – news of the Queen’s death just one week before it was scheduled to kick off initiated a wave of change.
The British Fashion Council held crisis meetings with brands, buyers and press to decide what would be the best course of action. After all, many of the smaller, independent brands rely on this big-budget biannual business opportunity to drive awareness – and, in turn, sales – going forward.
Parties were cancelled and the schedule was entirely re-written to clear Monday’s shows in respect of the funeral. But while a small number of designers pulled their shows completely (including Burberry, who hold a royal warrant), others looked for ways to pay tribute to Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II; and none more powerfully so than Richard Quinn. She was, after all, his most high-profile supporter.
Having so memorably attended his autumn/winter 2018 runway show in order to present him with the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design, Richard knew that he wanted to include a poignant nod to Her Majesty this season. And poignant, it certainly was.
Opening the show, 22 looks – all black and many of which were veiled – slowly walked the length of the show space against a backdrop of archive footage of the Queen’s earlier years playing out on small screens suspended within a central installation.
It was a haunting, hypnotic culmination of the prior ten days of national mourning, and one which served as a much-needed melancholic moment to close this most unusual of fashion weeks.
Naturally, the question on everyone’s lips was how, in just ten days, was this done? Did Richard not sleep? Were these archival pieces? The intricacy of each one makes it almost impossible to even fathom how you could craft 22 in little over a week.