While Bora Aksu’s show this morning began with a required minute of silence for the Queen, what followed was a bit more unexpected. Walking diagonally through the cavernous, sun-dappled central hall of London Scottish House – the historic home of the London Scottish Regiment – came a drummer playing a snare drum solo.
It served as a neat introduction to the various nods to military attire that adorned Aksu’s feminine, flowing dresses, including sashes, medallions, knee-high leather boots, and playful riffs on the classic shako hat. Aksu’s references, however, were meant to be anything but combative, instead presenting a vision of a very different kind of female warrior – one whose gentleness and sensitivity can serve as a point of strength in a violent world. “You don’t have to be tough to fight,” Aksu said after the show. “Innocence can also be a force for good in the world.”
Aksu has a keen eye for taking an unexpected reference and integrating it into his dreamy, effervescent world; this season he has turned to the art brut of Henry Darger, as well as the whimsical watercolors of Canadian artist Marcel Dzama. It was these forays into weirder, more bizarre territory – asymmetrical dresses with a cacophony of polka-dot prints in varying scales, for example, or cuts that exploded at the sleeves with ruffled taffeta – that were particularly charming, with the most playful touches balancing Aksu’s more frothy instincts and the addition of a welcome bite.
Also noteworthy is Aksu’s growing commitment to recycling: many pastel-hued silks and satins came from discarded pattern rolls and damaged materials. Aksu noted that taking these previously unloved remnants and alchemically transforming them into something beautiful is as much an expression of his brand philosophy as an aesthetic. “It’s nice to go back to things that were produced decades ago and bring them back to life, rather than letting them wither away in warehouses,” he said. “It’s something I’m really passionate about and I plan to continue.” Looking back to look forward is Aksu’s winning formula.