In one of the most inclusive presentations of the season, ROBERTS | WOOD invited us into a world of mythological imagery for SS20, whilst simultaneously challenging stereotypes of traditional “femininity”. Modelled by a diverse cast, we saw beautiful women of all shapes, sizes, and ages showcasing the brand’s distinctive designs.
Designer Katie Roberts-Wood has referred to her use of sheer organza as being “beautifully skeletal, fragile yet strong”, because the delicate fabric reveals the precise construction of each garment. The craftsmanship of these avant garde pieces is breathtaking.
The season’s theme was inspired by Roberts-Wood’s childhood recollections of strong women, reimagined as legendary and mythical beings; we saw references to iconic heroines from history, art, and the classics. The concept came from discussions Roberts-Wood had with friends, which became a basis for the prints that formed the core of the collection. We were given an insight into their visceral reactions to these icons and role models remembered for challenging the stereotypical aesthetics of womanhood imposed by society.
We saw the concept of armour explored, both physical and psychological; images of warrior women were transposed onto fitted garments underneath layer upon layer of the brand’s signature sheer organzas and tulles. The designer is known for her dramatic aesthetic, with ethereal looks of tumbling frills and ruffles of deceptive delicacy.
We saw a dress in sage green mesh with a cascade of lilac ruffles printed with powerful mythical imagery. Three Graces stood together, clad in dramatic gowns in blush pink, pale lemon, and white. The juxtaposition of strength and softness is not a foreign concept for the brand, with the material softness of the textiles and fabric treatments in direct contrast to the digital images used throughout the collection. Delicate ruffles sat alongside ridged and sharp pleats, and powerful graphics layered with sheer organzas.
The brand’s signature x-ray organza frocks were layered over graphic prints and imagery of armoured women in battle. We saw neutral creams and black, alongside acidic yellows and greens.
Garment construction is a primary focus for the brand, with a transparency both literal and figurative in sheer tulles, chiffons, and mesh engineered through non-stitched hand-linked techniques into intriguing silhouettes. The play on delicacy against volume reflects the designer’s vision of empowering the wearer whilst still celebrating vulnerability and softness.
To reduce the environmental impact and promote a sustainable approach to fashion, Roberts-Wood utilised re-engineered discarded offcuts from previous collections in a digital embroidery machine, in a process that made use of scrap fabric to minimise waste and adopt a much-needed circular approach to fashion. Roberts-Wood uses a unique technique in her designs; each pattern piece is cut multiple times, then linked together in a stitchless process to create a symphony of frills and ruffles.
SS20 broke the mould of what we typically perceive as “feminine”, and to reject the patriarchal notion of how women should dress, The Roberts-Wood woman expresses herself through what she chooses to wear; she is assertive, and dresses for herself and nobody else.
LUCIE DHOG | WRITER
EMILY MORGAN | PHOTOGRAPHER