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“I wanted to go back to a place of it feeling very simple. Like it was in the beginning. Just a little bit more honest. Fundamental, kind of, saying, ‘this is our reality’... basically, I’m feeling very stubborn.” To achieve that Molly Goddard decamped from the grandly cavernous Seymour Leisure Center and invited us into her Bethnal Green studio way out east, her work home of five years. The models emerged from the door of the atelier, where you could see the boots and accessories piled against the wall.

“What I found the biggest challenge of the season was not doing the thing that actually comes to me easiest, which is like a big, bright, colorful, enormous showstopper,” said the designer. Those Villanelle explosions are wonderful, but Goddard’s instinct is correct that they suck attention away from the rest of her offer. Here she used that signature material in much more versatile and casually applicable forms. Additionally she deployed her knitwear mindset to create texture by manipulating the warp and weft of silhouette and fabrication.

Grosgrain ribbon was horizontally integrated into handsome topcoats and blazers in blue and gray that resembled cleverly rethought prep school blazers. The dress below the first gray jacket was made of more tiered ribbon intersected with velvet. Later, when she succumbed to tulle, more ribbons acted to shape the silhouette and create pattern. There was tulle too in a couple of narrow-skirted leopard-print pieces—Goddard said she hadn’t used the pattern before—including a pink-tinted skirt, which worn beneath a blue blazer and a crewneck scarlet knit set with a design inspired by a vintage flyer from Kensington Market had a cutely skewed preppiness to it. There was also a dash of denim, some leopard patterned, some washed plain and boot cut. This last variant was worn over a long tulle shirtdress, off-white, set with five tiers of navy ribbon. Another look featured an oversized Peter Pan collar coat in black over a zip-up print knit, below it hung a white tulle skirt front. When the voluminous showstopper came at the last, it was cut in a pale gray fabric and cut on the bias—a pointedly uncolorful showstopper. There was barely a frill to be seen, apart from on a few edged shirts.

Personal nostalgia and memories of clothes past both provided, said Goddard, some key creative inspirations. The oversized poppers on the shoes and a few of the shirred ruched bags were inspired by a Gap Kids belt she shared with her sister Alice, who styled the show. A broader atmosphere of rose-tinted campus remembrance came through too. Said Goddard: “I think I’ve just felt a little bit freaked out by the fashion world recently. It’s easy to get so pushed along, and strung along, with the whole show of it.” By pushing back—and pulling us all out east—Goddard claimed her agency and delivered a collection worked on her own terms, and which needed no showstopper to impress.