When nervy sci-fi icon Leeloo from The Fifth Element popped up on Henry Holland’s Instagram days before his show, the expectation was for a super stylish, hard candy-type villain for AW15. The first girl marched out to FKA twigs’ “tw-ache” and was carried along robot-like on a travellator – wearing a jarring red and pink tartan cape with a rubberised flounce skirt and necktie. The attitude was Leeloo but the clothes suggested perverse and preppy schoolgirls.
As show-goers descended beneath a university campus, we entered a dark, disused warehouse. With flashing neon strips that lit the haphazard scaffolding set and travellators lined with caution tape, we were transported to what felt like a danger zone. Holland explained post-show that he wanted to set the scene for a “polished street kid from a futuristic metropolis.” The atmosphere might have felt like a robotic rave, but with plenty of below-the-knee lengths and heavy layering, the clothes hinted at something more uptight. There is little doubt that Holland can stray very far from his love for a good party, and if this is indeed the designer’s view of the future, he suggests times may be tough but will (or can!) definitely be fun. Corset belts and exposed suspenders might have something to do with it.
Uptown street urchin:
This is Holland’s darkest, toughest girl yet. Black graphic eyeliner intensified the cold, hard glares from the models – all of whom stomped and stood robot-still in flat creeper boots. Yet despite the tough attitude and styling, one of the opening looks consisted of a wide-legged trouser and a top that recalled Cristóbal Balenciaga’s baby doll shape, which surfaced throughout the show and suggested something more posh. Oversized and brightly coloured chevron sheepskins were worn with rubber leggings, sometimes topped with wonky black sunglasses or finished with a silk tie. This punk, kinky aristocratic look seemed directly inspired by Holland's popular fashion friends – particularly Isabella Blow’s niece Harriet Verney, who sat squashed up in the front row with other show regulars like Pixie Geldof and Daisy Lowe.