Settling in to our seats in the BFC Showspace on the first day of LFW AW18, we were primed and ready to start the season off with Bora Aksu’s signature florals and floating fabrics. His beautiful and feminine collections are a much-loved staple of fashion week, providing tranquillity amongst the madness. So we were all intrigued when the first model marched onto the runway in a navy tailored jacket and wide-legged trousers, no lace or sheer fabrics in sight.
Inspired by the story of Margaret Ann Bulkley, a woman back in the 1800s who had to dress as a man in order to practice as a surgeon, this season’s collection is an exploration of that metamorphosis, from woman to man and back again.
Structured silhouettes, heavy velvet materials and dark, rich colours emulated the masculine uniform that Bulkley had to wear in her role as Dr James Barry, but flamboyant edging and intricate detailing nod to the female within.
As the collection develops, hemlines become more floating, fabrics become lighter and jackets sit over dresses and skirts, juxtaposing the two opposite styles in a way that complements each of them, as well as the wearer.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an Aksu show without his florals; layers of pastel pleats in tulle and organza eventually appear on the catwalk, sat atop simple silhouettes, giving them depth and intrigue and eluding to the enigmatic nature of Bulkley and the mystery of her role.
As the models reappeared in the show space and lined up in a group ready to walk around the room one last time in a synchronised strut, the exposition that runs through the collection became even more evident. Ultimately, this collection is still the Aksu that we know and love, but his exploration of femininity now moves beyond the confines of societal expectations and stereotypes to delve into what it means to be a woman in today’s world – and indeed, for one woman in Georgian society.