As I take my seat in St. Andrews’ Holborn Church, I can sense the PPQ pre-show anticipation echoing through the walls. With a paparazzi frenzy outside and incessant foot flow filtering through the venue, one can feel the pressure building and atmosphere turning electric. Black and white checkered panels mirroring those from a chessboard cover the floor, and what in day would be a setting rather tranquil and somber; tonight is transformed into a rebellious scene of pure ‘Purple Reign.’

Soft shades of candy ice-cream pastels interlock with daring black PVC separates, while leopard print sheer dresses and trousers are teamed with sleeveless jackets, alongside mohair statement coats and dramatic face lace makeup. Sheer paneled knee-high boots, latex knuckle gloves, retro tinted sunglasses and colourful patent bags (gripped with tenacity) add a style statement of their own, aesthetically completing an eclectic AW16 look.

Distinctive and fearless, the PPQ muse is not a woman to go unnoticed. Her presence is one of regimented influence and tonight she is a “street walking cheetah,” roaming the Purple Reign-ing chessboard covered streets of the St. Andrews Church catwalk.

From bold extremes at PPQ to an ‘Avi-a-Trix’ inspired collection at Judy Wu. In the atmospheric setting of the Freemasons Hall, Wu presents an equally fierce collection, though perhaps portrayed in a more understated and utilitarian manner than that witnessed at PPQ.

 

The backstage area is a creative haven of artistic flare. An explosion of safety pins, lint rollers, rubber and knee-high boots dominate the styling room. Dressers speedily put models in first looks, ready to be transformed by the hair and makeup teams, who collectively work together to bring the Judy Wu AW16 vision to life. The talented Lan Nguyen-Grealis and team apply dark smudgy eye shadow; while an abundance of Toni&Guy hair technicians led by Artistic Director Chie Sato, frantically proceed to work their magic to create big “flight ready” manes. With the show-board prepared and the running order confirmed, it’s all go. Final checks are in order and models get briefed. Everyone in position…and so it begins!

Cocoon coats, parachute dresses and aviation paneling in khaki green, burnt orange and black make for a dramatic entrance. Monochromatic pattered ensembles float fluidly down the catwalk; made to look less elusive with dominatrix-feeling PVC cap-sleeved wings, patent leather body harnesses, belts and webbing. The khaki theme is continuous throughout, with the introduction of brown and green separates, and free flowing tulle and chiffon. PVC and cutout details detach the romantic connotations led by the otherwise delicate softness of the skirts and dresses. Post show, Wu talks backstage of aviatrix pioneering heroines Amy Johnson and Amelia Earhart as being key inspirations behind the collection. Both women employed bravery and strength to fulfill momentous achievement. These women, Wu explains, are individuals with whom she and the Judy Wu AW16 woman adhere to be; a prodigious fearless force, capable of achieving the unimaginable through courage, determination and drive.

 

Similarly to Wu, Belstaff too, celebrated female pioneering. A pertinent force behind the collection’s inspiration is American explorer Edith “Jackie” Ronne, known and admired for her courageous 1947 Antarctic expedition. Ronne, and her female counterparts, fearlessly entered into the unknown and most challenging of natural surroundings. Their self-discipline, willpower and brave sense of adventure are what ignite the Belstaff AW16 vision.

A modern, stylish and utilitarian feel, with fundamental elements of survival seem key to the aesthetic and practicality of the collection. Thick cable knits, fur lined collars and soft Mongolian shearling coats offer warmth and comfort, while insulated jackets and thermal separates provide shielding from the wind, rain and snow. Moreover, resilient leather motocross trousers and tumbled jackets not only deliver a hardened juxtaposition against the softer fabrics and fringing, but they again convey a feeling of exploration and adventure, and provide a choice of attire to further aid protection from the outside elements. Woolen cape coats with patchwork detail, and feminine organza pleating are stylistically driven, while red hues project a message of strength, power and endearment. In essence, a Polar themed fashion forward collection, which is both aesthetically pleasing to the eye and purposeful through wear – simple, stylish, functional and focused.

Alongside the AW16 mainline, a capsule collection designed in partnership with Belstaff Brand Ambassador and Creative Contributor Liv Tyler is displayed on mannequins. This collection, according to Tyler, is “a true amalgam of masculine and feminine.” With a fusion of leather, silk and shearling, the Belstaff x Liv Tyler collection takes elements from the archives, offering a collective that remains contemporary and true to Belstaff heritage and form.

 

Words: Liz Sargeant | Fashion Writer & Stylist | www.lizsargeantstyling.com | @LS_Styling

Images: Mehul Derodra | Fashion Photographer | www.derodra.com | @derodraaa