Why So Tame, London?

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Compare and contrast: Giles Deacon spring 2009 (left) and fall 2009 (right).

London Fashion Week has always been notorious for its off-the-wall looks. You want kooky? Hop the pond. Last season, we were offered Pac Man helmets, the now infamous MIA dress, and more nipples than you could bat a lash at. But this season, everything was so normal. It was perfectly lovely, but not what we expected from the city. Could it be that LFW has become respectable and staid?

The exodus of some of London's top talent over the past few seasons may have been a wake-up call for the city to get in line with New York, Paris, and Milan. Preen and Jonathan Saunders moved to New York, and Gareth Pugh landed in Paris. But wasn't it Pugh's outrageous looks that caught editors' eyes in the first place? Respectability is all well and good, but where's the fun, where's the creativity? Sure, Giles was a beautiful collection, but we missed the Pac Man silliness of it all.

Of course, the more sinister (and likely) thought is that what's really behind this is the big bad economic situation. The industry is in some pretty dire straits, and before New York showed, all we heard was talk of needing wearable, sellable clothes. New York's designers paid no heed and sent out what they wanted. London, it seems, did the opposite. Smaller designers are feeling the pinch worse than others and are under more pressure to show collections stores can snatch up. But if their collections sell and aren't particularly true to their design sensibility, what happens when they shake off these economic shackles and let the freak flag fly again?

London, we know it's a scary time, but take risks. That's what we love about you; that's why we come to you. You can make beautiful clothes that are still fun, silly, and a little bit outré. After all, grown-up doesn't have to mean boring.