Paul Costelloe opened London Fashion Week with the Irish designer saying he was “bringing back a bit of romance” to the catwalks with feminine dresses and soft, fluid looks. The 78-year-old’s spring/summer 2024 collection, called “Il Giardino” (The Garden) dressed models in unstructured jackets – some with tails, wide-leg linen trousers, V-neck jumpers and floral printed dresses. Plain dresses had ruffle details on the front and shoulders. He stuck to a colour palette of breezy blues, cream, sand and ecru. “(I’m) bringing back a bit of romance and a bit of femininity into fashion,” Costelloe told Reuters. “We’ve become so aggressive and independent and all these other things that people have to require but I’ve just gone back to the old style of beautiful fashion show, beautiful models.” Against an illustrated garden backdrop, some models carried tennis rackets or croquet mallets. There was also plenty of romance at the Bora Aksu show, with the Turkish-born designer returning to his roots to present an array of embroidered dresses, cropped jackets and layered skirts. Aksu used lots of lace, crochet, ruffles and intricate embellishments on suits and frocks. Floral patterns nodded to styles reminiscent of Ottoman Palaces. “I grew up with … my mum and my grandma… doing all these kind of knitted blankets, crochet dresses,” he told Reuters. “I wanted to bring that back… with a fresh perspective.” London is the second leg of the month-long spring/summer 2024 calendar that began in New York. Over coming days, London will host presentations from Burberry, JW Anderson, Erdem, and Molly Goddard, among others. This year, the British Fashion Council is celebrating 30 years of its NEWGEN programme, which provides financial support and mentoring for new designers. Past recipients have included the late Alexander McQueen, as well as Erdem and Anderson.