Whither Fashion? February 2018.

Dear Rowley,

It’s that time of year again when a gaggle of Chinois wearing black culottes, Doctor Martin boots, shaved pudding bowl haircuts and black T-shirts down to their knees herald London Fashion Week being upon us. We see metallic logo handbags so heinous even an oven-ready turkey would demur. We see haircuts so radical and rainbow-hued that one wonders whether Billy Smart is in town. My Little Pony isn’t even in it.

The fashion clowns are all the funnier because they actually believe they look like the bees knees and we just hen pheasants compared unfavourably to their magnificent plumage. What we really wish to do is throw rotten fruit at them or get them off the streets before someone gets hurt.

I was once a member of the fashion pack hauling my cookies from Milan to Paris to London to New York but the fundamental difference in the 1990s and early 20o0s was the pragmatism of the clothing and the genuine desire to make women look beautiful.

Christopher Bailey was to me a role model at Burberry for ice-cream smooth, elegant sport couture. What he showed for his final Burberry show at London Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2018 was a tribute to LGBT (have I missed anyone?) rights. What clever spin did he weave around the concept? You guessed it … the rainbow flag. The nation yawns.

I was quite frankly horrified to see that human meerkat Cara Delevingne – the Helen of Troy de nos jours - with her shaven head sporting a rainbow flag fur maxi coat. How many Muppets had to die? To add insult to injury it was lined with Burberry check that clashed horribly and modelled with a white crochet tunic and hideous barrage balloon slouch pants.

I always think Miss Delevingne looks as if she’s fresh off the mortuary slab and have never seen what the industry sees in her over and above being a posh girl whose Godfather was the Chairman of Condé Nasty. The true model du jour this season is Adowa Aboah; she being the premier cover girl of Edward Enninful’s debut as editor of British Vogue.

This lady has mental health issues and is mixed race so naturally the fashion industry clasps her to their bosom. She is now ‘Positive Fashion Ambassador for Model Health and Diversity’. Oh please my nerves! It’s like appointing a Positive Fashion Ambassador for Spiky Old Women and Gay Men who, let’s face it, rule the fashion business as far as the public face is concerned.

I think Miss Aboah is a pretty girl. She is also fashion royalty being the daughter of Camilla Lowther. But God forgive Ashley Williams for letting Miss Aboah model the trend of the moment – the 80s!?!?!?!?!?! – and a nasty lime green sweatshirt reading ‘Don’t Know Don’t Care’ with a bleached denim fishing hat that would make anyone look simple.

Don’t Know Don’t Care just about sums up the temperature of London Fashion Week. Ugly clothes are paraded on a positive Benetton poster of diverse models – Chinois, transgender, mixed-race, black, anything but milky white British unless she’s anorexic – and claim this is edgy and cool. Ugly clothes are not as Vogue says ‘so bad they are good’. They are just heinous regurgitated 80s spew by untalented, arrogant snowflake millennials. As Kitty says, ‘I don’t mince words’.

As an addict of RuPaul’s Drag Race, I have to say the ‘girls’ who create about thirty runway looks per season according to Ru’s themes come-up with more elegant, edgy and amusing fashion than all the J. W. Andersons, Ashley Williams, Matty Bovans and Mary Katranzous put together. It comes to a pretty pass when Gareth Pugh – the artist formerly known as fashion’s answer to Leigh Bowery – produces a London Fashion Week collection that anoints him as the successor to Cristobal Balenciaga.

I adored Gareth Pugh’s collection because it played with maximum volume while still enhancing the female body. His palette was strong and simple: scarlet, silver foil and cream: gorgeous! When I look at last season’s Drag Race winner Sasha Velour’s runway looks I see the inspiration of Gareth Pugh. I also see echoes of Jeremy Scott at Moschino though the inspired garments are so much sharper than the Scott originals.

It would be fun to criticise one more season of New York, London, Paris and Milan runway shows for the broadsheets if only to bring a fresh eye that has not been indoctrinated by the hype. I left fashion reporting because I hated what I was seeing and thought I was too old to have a valid opinion. Now I think I have something to say again after so many years studying cut and proportion on Savile Row.

During my period of enforced rest I have been going through a stack of DVDs with my television appearances on with a view to digitising my whole written and filmed archive on one website. It made me proud and humble in equal measures to see how hard I worked in fashion and how much I miss the glamour of it all. But that’s all gone now.

Mind you, wasn’t it lovely to see HM The Queen front row at London Fashion Week doling out a prize for innovation. They sat HM next to Anna Wintour – the Queen of American Vogue – though I suspect HM would have had a much more meaningful conversation with Suzy Menkes. The Queen laughed her way through the show that comprised motorcycle crash helmets as the accessory of the moment.

So ‘Whither Fashion?’ Disappearing gloriously up its own fundament with the exception of Gareth Pugh and the talented Simone Rocha who always gives good frock. Then again, her father is John Rocha so what’s bred in the bone comes out in the flesh. Until next time…