RICHARD Quinn’s SS20 show was an unexpected fantastical delight of couture dreams. I say this because, naturally, an invite to a leisure centre in Bethnal Green does not evoke a sense of magic and wonderment, but more of chlorine and young screaming children. Admittedly, children did feature predominantly in the show, but they certainly were not screaming and they certainly were not wearing anything that looked like they were heading to their weekly swimming class.
Rather, for this season of London Fashion Week, Richard Quinn transported us to a plush pink carpeted ballroom, fit with crystal chandelier, full set orchestra and choir, with an enchanted forest set design reveal halfway through. Yet again, Quinn truly pushed his creative boundaries to produce not only a collection of incredible couture-like gowns but also a unique show experience that celebrated music, grandeur design, and both the young and the old.
In keeping with his love for extravagant prints and PVC, Quinn’s SS20 collection was an abundance of florals, animal prints, and wet-look shine. Likewise, his adoption of beading in previous shows was also seen in the sparkling crystal embroidery and lace detailing of many of the SS20 looks. As each model graced the runway, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and The Bach Choir harmonised with tracks like Memories, from the Andrew Lloyd Webber hit musical Cats. Culminating in a performance of the British coronation anthem, Zadok the Priest, a gentle nod to the Queen who awarded Quinn with the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II award for British design last year. Each song was carefully selected to hit a weighty mix of powerful notes that mirrored the overwhelming authority Quinn’s dresses demanded on the catwalk. In his show notes, Quinn made clear his want for “a fashion sanctuary, where we can all come and celebrate”, and his SS20 show did just that. Combining the influence and beauty of music and fashion, the dresses held volume not only in their shape but also, their sound.
Makeup was minimal, hair was daring and predominantly came in cropped curly wigs that did not interfere with the look of the dresses beneath. Shoes were dainty and pointy with their diamante buckles sparkling under the light, and were paired with tights, either in bold print or encrusted with sparkle, a clear addition to the love for hosiery that is growing in fashion. Petite clutch bags came in pastels or were decorated with ostrich feathers to create movement and lure. But, arguably the element of the show that created the most curiosity was the dramatic pause before the models took their final walk and Quinn, his final bow. Instead, the audience sat patiently for some minutes in anticipation, praying for Quinn’s sake that a disaster had not occurred backstage.
Oh, how wrong we were. As the lights came up and the music erupted into the hall, a model, dressed in pastel floral printed gown with white ostrich feather shawl and white heels with diamante detailing, entered the room, followed by eight small children all dressed in their mini-me versions of the same gown. Applause erupted, shortly followed by a collective ‘Aww’, which was so loud it drowned out the music of the orchestra for a moment or two. And if that wasn’t enough to create an element of drama and wonder, seconds later the curtains of the stage behind the orchestra were drawn to reveal a fairy-like enchanted garden set, with models dressed in white bridal gowns embroidered by lace, sequins, and crystals, positioned within. Quinn’s bridal wear debut couldn’t have been more dramatic.
In a final move of extravagance, the children were joined by the adult models who walked to different parts of the catwalk, filling up any last space left and creating a wonderful melody of colours, prints, shapes and textures for the viewer. It was no surprise, therefore, that as The Bach Choir sang their final words, the Philharmonic Orchestra played their final chords, and Richard Quinn his final bow, the entire audience stood to applaud and cheer for what can only be described as the epitome of an ultimate display of fashion.
Richard Quinn’s bridal wear debut
by Lily Rimmer