London Fashion Week: Chants of "Build A Wall" Join Red Carpet Sequins

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Gareth Pugh Fall 2017.

The Fall 2017 shows kick off with Gareth Pugh, Julien McDonald and Versus Versace.

After an uncharacteristically serious (for fashion week) start to the fall 2017 season in New York, London kicked off its first full day on Saturday. 

The politically dissident mood reached the U.K. at the ever-subversive Gareth Pugh show, as a soundtrack chanted “BUILD A WALL! BUILD A WALL!” on repeat over an eerie mash-up of lullabies and Marilyn Manson.

Models swung prison keys by their sides, and sported almost Gestapo-esque hats and spookily dark makeup. Show notes elaborated that the “collection carries in its bowels the distinct threat of radical extremism” and the repetitive track blaring through the speakers was meant to evoke “CIA sleep deprivation techniques.” 

Pugh is known as London’s enfant terrible and like his predecessor in punk Vivienne Westwood, he rarely presents a collection without a political undertone. It remains to be seen whether the rest of the British fashion industry will embrace the sartorial protest mood, as the rest of the day’s shows were decidedly upbeat and party-focused, with not a care in the world, none more so than Julien MacDonald.

In typical MacDonald style, every single look was slashed, slit, barely-there and sexy as hell. There wasn’t an inch devoid of a sequin, a crystal, or a stud. Beads were stretched into cobwebbing that snaked across the skin, Swarovski crystals peppered straps bandaged tightly around models’ abs, and gold chainmail dripped to the floor in dipped-back hemlines. A beaded fringe bodysuit looked like it had been tailor-made for Rihanna to perform at the Grammys, and the black string pantsuit Gigi Hadid recently wore to the AMA’s was reworked into a typically skintight dress.

After a tough time with the austerity of British fashion in the past ten years, MacDonald has unexpectedly found himself at the forefront of the red carpet industry once again, in what can only be attributed to the Kardashian effect.

There were no show notes to be found on seats, but then what artistic inspiration could be claimed for this? Well, having just outfitted J. Lo this month for her new Las Vegas residence, it’s safe to guess she may have had a hand in this collection.

The front row was surprisingly devoid of A-listers, but instead made up of British familial royalty  Toby Huntington-Whiteley, the model/personal trainer brother of Rosie and Lady Kitty Spencer, niece of Princess Diana. At least we know J. Lo had an excuse not to attend  those star-spangled, ostrich feathered micro-minis aren’t going to wear themselves on the Vegas stage.

If Julien MacDonald spoke to the red carpet sirens, Versus Versace was made for its millennial little sisters. Two famous ones in fact, as the show opened with Gigi and closed with Bella Hadid. The mood was clubby, sexy, sporty and cool, everything we assume generation Z aspires to be. If not just the Hadids, we could see Sofia Richie in every single one of these looks.

High-waisted riding pants came adorned with zippers and paired with sporty cropped sweatshirts, in a way only the under-20 crowd could wear. Trousers were otherwise low-slung, in a nod to the early 2000s, with logo underwear peeking over the top. In fact, the logo featured heavily in this collection, continuing the flashy trend for in-your-face branding that shows no sign of abating. It was knitted into seams of well cut sweaters and interestingly folded into pleated kilts, effectively merging the separates into a dress. The logo screamed its name far and wide in thick chokers on male and female models alike, and wrapped itself around ankle straps of heels. In a bolder, sportier look it was splashed across graphic 80s black and white photographs on an oversized puffer coat, worn by one of London’s favorite models, Adwoa Aboah. The sex appeal came in the form of yet more chainmail (a Versus signature), sheer detailing, and sky-high thigh slits.

This was the brand’s second outing without a named lead designer, since Anthony Vacarello left in early 2016 to take the helm at Saint Laurent. Donatella herself has taken a more hands-on role overseeing her team of young designers on Versus and has courted press recently ahead of the upcoming collaboration with Zayn Malik, set to launch in May. If Saturday’s show proved anything, it’s that she understands youth in a way that cannot be underestimated.