British fashion: The future's bright. The future's from Yorkshire

There's a new Yorkshire designer at the forefront of British fashion. Stephanie Smith and Abigail Turner report from the catwalks.

Matty Bovan at the Leeds room installation he has curated for an exhibition at Somerset House.
Matty Bovan at the Leeds room installation he has curated for an exhibition at Somerset House.

When Vivienne Westwood and her husband, Andreas Kronthaler, took their seats on the front row of Matty Bovan’s London Fashion Week show, they as good as crowned the young Yorkshire designer the heir apparent of all that is eccentrically brilliant about British fashion, style and design.

Bovan’s second LFW show, presenting his collection for spring/summer 2019, mixed the suburban Yorkshire garden with the world of fantasy, combining an array of fabrics and innovative methods of embroidery to bring a twisted English woodland to the British Fashion Council venue.

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The inspiration came from his hero, Derek Jarman. On finding an old VHS of The Last of England in a charity shop, Bovan revisited the artist and filmmaker’s work, and was particularly taken by the quote “I’ve never believed in reality”. Bovan took us into a futuristic sphere, along the way collecting the remnants of the natural world. Towering headdresses made out of what looked like garden paraphernalia were adorned with flowers and greenery; a pink and yellow puffed-up crinoline dress was intricately embroidered with a patchwork of multicoloured flowers.

Huge bumbags are part of Bovan's collaboration with Coach, seen here at the London Fashion Week SS19 catwalk show.

Bovan, 28, still lives in his home city of York, returning there after he graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2015. He has featured three times at LFW with the Fashion East collective, and won the LVMH Graduate Prize 2015. London Fashion Week SS19 brings his handbag collaboration with Coach. Huge bumbags featured alongside teeny-tiny ones, with Bovan reasoning that everything one needs is on one’s phone anyway.

Bovan has also curated an installation inspired by Yorkshire landmarks for the London Design Biennale 2018, after Leeds was chosen as one of only three UK cities to 
take part in the event. Shown at Somerset House on The Strand, Bovan curated the Leeds room, sponsored by Leeds 2023 and Leeds Beckett University (where Bovan lectures), bringing artists Rory Mullen and Adam Leach on board to elucidate the Biennale’s theme of Emotional States.

Entitled Just, Unjust, the work was inspired by an Elizabethan wood carving depicting the Dance of Death, which sits in The Red Drawing Room at Burton Agnes Hall in Yorkshire. Featuring bespoke garments designed especially by Bovan 
for the project, Leeds Beckett PhD student and artist Zara Worth also took part.

In other catwalk news, Riccardo Tisci showed his debut collection for Burberry, which manufactures in Castleford. Named Kingdom, he said: “It’s like a patchwork or a mix of the British lifestyle.” Sectioned under headings Refined, Relaxed, and Evening, it was streamed live on Instagram, continuing Christopher Bailey’s legacy of technology firsts. Not as wild as many anticipated, it set out Tisci’s personal vision of the touchstones of British culture, from tradition and establishment to punk.

The Matty Bovan London Fashion Week catwalk show for spring/summer 2019. Picture by Shaun James Fox.

Victoria Beckham showed at London Fashion Week for the first time in 10 years, supported on the front row by her entire family. Alexa Chung presented her first catwalk show, while Peaky Blinders actor Helen McCrory actually walked on Alice Temperley’s catwalk.

Pam Hogg, creator of the Love Not War T-shirt for the Wear it for War Child campaign, continued her support of War Child UK, helping children whose lives have been torn apart by conflict, by inviting a special guest robot to her catwalk show.

And Giles Deacon collaborated with Aspinal of London to create a capsule collection, which The Yorkshire Post went along to view, created using his drawings of elegant women dressed in colourful Forties-style skirts. The Aspinal main SS19 collection featuring trunk bags studded with Swarovski crystals and inspired by the style of ballerinas, was shown too. Look out for the Giles x Aspinal collection available in stores and online on October 15.

Kendall Jenner on the catwalk during the Burberry London Fashion Week SS19 show. Isabel Infantes/PA Wire
Victoria Beckham after her London Fashion Week SS19 show. in Dover Street, London. Ian West/PA Wire
A case from Aspinal of London's SS19 collection.