Very few designers can make their garments speak louder than words, but not Richard Quinn. With the late Queen Elizabeth II’s passing, London Fashion Week as we know it came to a standstill. As some designers cancelled shows, others chose their own way to mourn. Quinn chose to showcase 22 exquisitely crafted pieces, all in black, that opened his spring-summer 2023 collection. Quinn’s colorful garments and heavy prints were replaced with an unusual lineup of black ensembles, echoing the late Queen’s royal wardrobe. From crows, belted coats to headscarves and more, Quinn’s team worked tirelessly in the 10 days since the Queen’s passing, turning grief into art. After all, Quinn was the inaugural winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design and his show was the first and only show she ever attended.

Quinn’s SS23 collection was dedicated to her Majesty the Queen, who “touched him among so many others with her grace and kindness.” A giant installation with hundreds of CCTV cameras and screens, placed in the middle of a show space draped with black curtains and carpets, played archival footage of Her Majesty. As the 22 black outfits left the runway, the music abruptly ended. Screens glitched and lights dimmed. This was not a technical error. As the lights flashed on once more, Quinn’s latest, colorful garments descended down the runway with a bold sense of purpose, encapsulating fresh and new, dramatic silhouettes. From intricate textile fabrications, floral prints, and feathered polka dot ensembles to latex, which the designer has become known for, this collection embodied exquisite futurism.

Tap into the unknown

As you sat by the runway, you had no option but to admire the clothes for what they were. They were bold, beautiful and fashion forward. Inspired by space and Sci-Fi, the models’ faces popped out from cocoon-like dresses, bodysuits and catsuits. The Richard Quinn woman is not afraid to tap into the unknown, nor afraid to stand out in a crowded room. With loud prints and unconventional silhouettes, she commands the attention of everyone around.

The show was also a testament to the power of Quinn’s design team. Producing 22 new looks in 10 days, as a tribute to the late Queen, was challenging and admirable. If fashion is not to comment on the events of past, present and the future, then what purpose does it have? For Quinn’s SS23 collection, this thought rang true. “Fashion is always a comment on what’s going on,” he told reporters after the show, “This is a really historic moment, so we took a moment to pause, re-look at the shapes and fabrics, and [we] did a 360.”

The show ended with a beautiful white-lace bridal number. It signaled a better, more hopeful tomorrow. Moving on from the show’s dark opening and the loud colorful garments, the bridal look hinted at a new dawn, for Britain and the wider world.