LFW SS19: Richard Quinn

AS THE London Philharmonic Orchestra played an excerpt from Rossini’s overture to his opera William Tell, and the lights dimmed, the hairs on the back of my neck sprung to attention for the highly anticipated Richard Quinn SS19 show. Since his show last season, which won him the inaugural award for British design and saw Her Majesty the Queen sat in the front row, Richard Quinn has been propelled into the limelight.

This season, Richard Quinn’s SS19 show thanked British art education for the place he holds in fashion business today by inviting GCSE and A-level art pupils from the London state schools he attended, and print students from Central Saint Martins, along with their teachers. The reasoning behind such a move, at a time when tickets for his show are one of the most highly sought at London Fashion Week, is to raise awareness of the damage occurring in arts education – there has been a 34 per cent drop in arts GCSE entries between 2010 and 2018. Quinn and his SS19 show, with its abundance of incredible craftsmanship and creative, commercial vision, showed how crucial the arts are in the rise to fashion stardom. 

Opening the show with a full black ensemble in a range of textures, velvet, tulle and silk, added dimension and definition, often at risk in an all-black outfit. Like last season, elements of couture were alluded to in the first few looks with the use of all-over balaclavas. This season, however, Quinn heightened the elegance and glamour with hand embroidery, used on the majority of dresses, and exquisite fringing and ruffles that gave ultimate drama and movement to each look.  Looks were sectioned into timely themes, ranging from flapper dresses from the 1920s to kaftans from the ‘70s era to floral ‘80s party frocks.

For the second year, Epson, the global technology firm, sponsored Quinn’s collection and with the use of Epson’s ProAV and digital textile printing Richard Quinn’s signature floral prints were brought to life. The colourful floral prints sat in contrast to the stormy backdrop creating a clever, visual disharmony between hard and soft. The use of a stormy setting was a suitable reflection of the future for Quinn, one where the magnitude is uncertain but with bolts of energy and drive will have an electric outcome.

The use of animal print, a consistent theme in many of today’s high street windows, suggested Quinn was moving into more commercial territory for SS19. Glimpses of floral-printed lining, details that only the wearer will really notice, also reiterated Quinn had the consumer in mind. The thought process behind Quinn’s design is commendable and a reflection of his incredible work ethic and successful business venture. Since last season’s show, Quinn and his label have gone from being stocked in 15 stores to 50 stores and have dressed the likes of Amal Clooney, Lady Gaga and Adwoa Aboah. For Quinn, this show was all about proving that to study fashion is not a huge risk and that it is a hugely profitable industry.

 

by Lily Rimmer