Walpole is the official luxury body in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1992, it constitutes a network that ensures the growth of the jewel of British creation. Among its feats of arms, it can boast of having facilitated the visa application process for Chinese tourists and their deep pockets. It is also the founder of the European Cultural and Creative Industries Alliance, consulted by the EU and working for the establishment of post-Brexit connections in fashion.
With members such as Burberry, Harrods and Atelier Swarovski, the organisation is concerned about the rupture between its country and the EU. On this subject, it commissions a study measuring its consequences on luxury specifically. In the event of a “no deal”, the damage would amount to 6.8 billion pounds, with exports down by 20% (source Fashion United, ed.).
If financiers are worried, creators are not to be outdone. Since the beginning of the debate, Brexit has become a recurring theme on the catwalks of London’s fashion week. While the glossy paper world almost unanimously wants it to be cancelled, how does the protest express itself through clothing?
We look at five creators mixing style and politics…
The most punk of all designers is used to seeing her shows as a platform for expressing her ideas — committed to sustainable fashion, she transforms her SS13 presentation into a protest for climate change. Unsurprisingly, the one who already called for a “no” vote in 2016 turns her FW19 collection into a manifesto in favour of a European England.
While models chant “Brexit is a crime”, walking down the runway a megaphone in their hands, others wear Pinocchio masks echoing the politicians’ lies. In terms of style, Vivienne Westwood contrasts strong messages with candid patterns, writing “we need more heroes” on white mini dresses.
Burberry in detail
An industry heavyweight, Burberry spells it out for Brexit. As the price of its stocks falls in the aftermath of diplomatic failures (source Financial Times,, editor’s note), the management denounces the divorce’s consequences on fashion labels.
On the collection side, the brand remains more discreet: with only two seasons to his credit, Riccardo Tisci is still working on reinventing its codes. Yet during his first fashion show, he accessorizes his outfits with a wallet enhanced with a trompe l’oeil passport patter. Worn around the neck like a piece of jewellery, it reminds us that it is an Italian designer, having proven himself in Parisian luxury, who is now concentrating the DNA of the most iconic British house.
Goddard in the storm
Lançant son label éponyme en 2014, Molly Goddard se distingue rapidement pour son habilité à créer des silhouettes à la fois féminines et confortables. Ses collections font la part belle aux couleurs, ainsi qu’à sa matière de prédilection : le tulle.
At the last fashion week, a little over a month before what could have been the fateful date, she presents a vision clashing with her usual lightness. Called “Dressed for the storm” in allegory to the current situation, next winter is much more sober, equips itself with balaclavas and transforms coats into shelters. The baby doll becomes serious, driven by the desire “to offer stability in uncertain times”.
Katherine Hamnett: a capsule for Europe
According to Katharine Hamnett, never underestimate the power of a slogan. The designer has even made it her trademark since the 1980s. From the anti-nuclear message exhibited at Margaret Thatcher’s in front of photographers, to the rhinestone top literally inviting people to wear condoms, her opinions are displayed in capital letters on her clothes.
An activist, she openly supports the People’s Choice movement, and releases a capsule of printed t-shirts in the tradition of those who made her famous, whose proceeds go to the Open Britain association. The little bonus? She opts for an organic cotton fleece and eco-friendly dyes.
Asia on the Thames with ASAI
Making his debut at Fashion East — an incubator for young talent, already mentioned in this article —, designer A Sai Ta first tries his hands at The Row before being recruited by Yeezy. His label ASAI, still in its infancy, is regarded as one of the most promising of London’s emerging scene.
Of Sino-Vietnamese origin, arrived in the United Kingdom as a refugee, he takes a complex look on Brexit, which he translates into his latest collection (also his first solo fashion show). Revisiting the emblematic elements of the English wardrobe, he confronts houndstooth patterns with Asian materials, mistreats the countryside style through oversized volumes, and devours trench coats that he complements with manga pages-print jeans . When asked about the meaning of his approach, he defines it as “a process seeking to question the idea of British identity”. A notion that is no longer clear to many people today… •