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LFW AW20: Tulle, sequins and couture glamour

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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While London Fashion Week may be known for its experimental and creative designs, one thing that has shined through, quite literally this season is the ultra-glam, with tulle, sequins, feathers and couture techniques bringing a touch of red carpet luxury to autumn/winter 2020.

Tulle galore

Tulle was seen in abundance at Molly Goddard, the London Fashion Week favourite has become know for her sugary tulle ballgowns and this season she added menswear for the first time, inspired by her boyfriend, Tom. The tailored check trousers, separates and suiting, were sent down the catwalk alongside shimmering and billowing floor-length tulle and taffeta gowns styled over chunky jumpers and Fair Isle cardigans.

The colours and prints were perfect for her frothy creations from electric blue to sugary pink, lemon, red, and even a floral-camo hybrid print.

Images: courtesy of Molly Goddard by Ben Broomfield

While Ashley Williams took inspiration from the stars of the silver screen from Scarlett O’Hara to Jessica Rabbit and Cinderella for her autumn/winter 2020 collection filled with oversized tulle gowns, graphic airbrushed T-shirts, puffball party frocks and cutesy cartoon. Feathers, diamanté, bugle beads and exaggerated bows embellish every quiet moment into what the designer described as a “cacophony of curated chaos”.

There was also a sustainability edge to the collection as Willians used old samples and dead stock to up-cycle and down-cycle.

Images: courtesy of Ashley Williams

Bora Aksu is known for his floaty feminine creations and for autumn/winter 2020 the designer took inspiration from pioneering abstract artist, Hilma of Klint with a collection filled with ethereal tulle and organza moments mixed in with layering techniques of embroideries, prints and textures on romantic lines and shapes.

The collection started with a sombre feel for Bora Aksu with the use of black, however, it wasn’t long until the Turkish-born designer added a sense of romance with soft feminine drapes and structured dresses presented in lilac, orange and yellow, alongside more subtle hues of soft blues and pink.

Images: courtesy of Bora Aksu

Haute couture glamour

Malan Breton brought haute couture to London Fashion Week's schedule with his rebirth collection inspired by The Firebird Ballet showcased in the beautiful St Georges Church in Holborn, which featured everything ultra-glam from tulle and sequins, to feathers, fringing, and faux fur, as well as Swarovski crystals.

The London-based, Taiwanese-born, fashion designer presented an autumn/winter collection that he describes as the “rise of the phoenix” following his spring/summer 2019 catwalk show that celebrated his 15 years in fashion.

Much like a ballet, Breton showcased his collection in three striking acts, from soft blush tones in faux furs and tulle to sparkling creations featuring Swarovski crystals and reflective fabrics that resemble the embers of the phoenix, and then onto bursts of fierce reds in vivid silks that added an intense yet opulent sensation to the collection.

Breton is known for his couture creations, his gowns have been worn by the likes of Priyanka Chopra, Kerry Washington, Ariana Grande and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, and this season the designer explored the techniques of couture while looking to the future and the importance of sustainability by using upcycled fabrics and paillettes made from recycled plastics.

Images - courtesy of Malan Breton

While Erdem showcased his romanticised couture glamour with an autumn/winter 2020 collection inspired by Cecil Beaton glamorous socialite portraits of the 1920s and 1930s, and the National Portrait Gallery provided a fitting backdrop, as the London gallery’s upcoming exhibition explores the extravagant world of the glamorous and stylish ‘Bright Young Things’ through the eyes of the British photographer.

Erdem used these seductive images, which showcase Beatons transformation from middle-class suburban schoolboy to society figure and a star of Vogue, by highlighting the glamour of the era, when “royalty mixed with Bohemia; high society embraced the avant-garde; men dressed as women and women as men,” explained the designer in his show notes.

This created beautiful pearl-festooned flapper dresses to silvery lace dresses, which mimicked the silver foil slicked catwalk, black-and-white checkerboard prints, rose-patterned brocades, bias-cut satin dresses, oversized tattoo prints, romantic floral tea dresses and tailored suits.

Images - courtesy of Erdem by Serichai Traipoom

For Mark Fast, autumn/winter 2020 was a homage to the late swinging Sixties with mini dresses, tailoring, shag pile coats, and gorgeous glamorous floor-sweeping open back gowns crafted from crochet with his signature fringing.

This was a collection that mixed Fast’s couture creations with youthful streetstyle sportswear, as the designer continues to expand into a full lifestyle brand, with cami-graffiti showcased alongside neon pops of yellow, pink and green, which was balanced beautifully alongside his glamour-filled mini dresses and red carpet looks.

Images - courtesy of Mark Fast

Bold sequins

There was a touch of 1980s glamour on the catwalk with designers bringing bold sequins back, from Burberry’s seductive dresses and iridescent pencil skirts to Huishan Zhang that sent everything down the catwalk covered in sequins, while Christopher Kane smothered sheer knits and party dresses with paillettes.

The boldest sequin display came from Ashish who was on a mission to bring joy with his high-energy autumn/winter 2020 collection that was filled with rainbow chintz across tailored jackets, halter neck jumpsuits, and dresses featuring polka dots, geometric patterns, zebra stripes, leopard spots and over the top florals.

In past seasons sequins have been minimally used, this season the designer returns to sequins with renewed aplomb, with larger paillettes layered to showcase beautiful movement and to add a bold polka dot effect especially seen on the striking oversized yellow ballgown, alongside granular sequins beaded on slinky cocktail dresses.

“Using sequins has always been an act of rebellion,” said Ashish in the show notes. “It’s a medium that people aren’t necessarily vert kind to, but there’s something so joyous about it.”

Images: courtesy of Ashish

Instagram-favourite Olivia Rubin continued the joy with her penchant for rainbows and multicoloured sequins for her fun catwalk show that saw the models strutting down the runway to nostalgic 80’s music playlist selected by her brother.

This fun tone to the music was brought to life with the her polka dot and pearl adorned pieces, showcased alongside tie-dye ombre, animal print hearts, rainbow chevrons and sequin checks. In addition, Rubin also presented her first coat, a pastel affair combining pink and purple, alongside her collection of dresses and knitwear.

Images: courtesy of Olivia Rubin

London Fashion Week
Olivia Rubin
Sustainable Fashion