Paul Costelloe AW19 | Battlefield to Ballroom
LONDON FASHION WEEK | SHOW REVIEWS
“In times like these, belief is more relevant than ever before…” ~ Paul Costelloe
From the foyer of my hotel, directly across the street, my heart lurched when I spotted the queue of fashion folk snaking round the corner, from Simpson’s on The Strand, to The Savoy. Desperate not to be late, I careered across 4 lanes of London traffic, like Carrie Bradshaw on 5th, and joined a gang of fashion friends to anticipate the Great Man’s Autumn/Winter show! Queuing during the morning coffee hour never felt so exciting!
And we were not to be disappointed! Vying for the best view in the jam-packed, yet beautifully intimate setting of Simpson’s upstairs rooms, we finally settled down, as the velvety strains of Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” began. Arresting, haunting and perfectly atmospheric for the delights to come.
Shot From the FROW!
As the show title, Battlefield to Ballroom, suggests, this was a collection heavily inspired by the exquisite, military precision of uniform tailoring, executed in pure Italian wool. But that was only half the story. What followed was an escape to fantasy - ballgowns and full-length prom skirts in rich, autumnal tones, and florals in what appeared to be taffeta, velvet, silk and leather.
As a self-confessed leather-lover, the first set of looks were a joy indeed! Costelloe, the master-tailor, created military-inspired jackets, skirts, leggings and dresses in lustrous leather, often sexily paired with thigh-high boots.
I am Woman, Hear Me Roar!
Militaria morphed seamlessly into softer, tailored tweed pieces, from jackets and skirts to babydoll dresses, adorned with frills. Silhouettes exuded femininity and strength all at once: nipped-in waists combined with angular, almost 80s-inspired shoulders hinted at a no-nonsense woman, more akin to giving orders than subject to them. A decidedly welcome narrative, wholly in line with the zeitgeist rise of women, following years of “hashtag me too” subjugation.
While there’s no denying that sharp tailoring can improve posture, imbue a certain professionalism and even disguise unwanted lumps and bumps, there’s nothing like a chic, off-duty weekend look to top the style stakes. Above left, this heavy dogtooth tweed, full-length gilet is cinched with a belt-bag, and worn atop a soft knit and leather leggings, with the lustworthy, modernity of a street style star!
Opulent, mill-engineered velvets, in autumnal golds and rich rusts brought a lustre to dresses and jumpsuits, while 2 seafoam velvet looks stepped out beyond the dominant colour palette.
Amping up the 80s were rich, red blazers and coats with gold frogging and those enduring shoulders. Daytime scarlet militaria gave way to abstract burgundy and black patterns for evening, while rose-strewn ballgowns ushered in the romance.
To the lilting lament of “I can’t stop loving you” the brocade parade did glide! Rich, gold and black, floral, brocade ballgowns were (almost) fit for a princess - a very modern princess! Many had corset tops, drop waists and full, gathered ballgown skirts that hinted at the release from the austerity of war and a hopeful vision of a future full of fun and frivolity. Backs were adorned with bows or cutaways, while under-shorts were added (one assumes) to accommodate the crotch-high split in what was, of course, my favourite look of the collection - black leather vest teamed with a split-front ballgown skirt.
All in all, hearts were captured - this was a victory for womanhood. Mr Costelloe, we salute you!