Highlights from Burberry Prorsum (left) and Christopher Kane (right)
The British have a reputation for being the most cutting edge designers and the recent London Fashion Week proved it. While heavy hitters like Tom Ford sent out a mixed collection (I guess excess is the new minimalism?), it was the homegrown Brits that stole the show in my opinion. Here are some of my favourite collections of the week.
Burberry’s show is always a highlight (if you missed it, you can watch it here) and this season Christopher Bailey got a bit racy with a collection inspired by a famous callgirl from the 1960s. It all started off innocently with heart motifs on dresses and skirts, before the racy trenchcoats in shiny, sheer red latex (some trimmed in metal) came out. The stripes and grommet series seemed out of synch with the rest of the collection which was polished and elegant, with a hint of retro. The tight sweaters, ladylike pencil skirts and animal print coats were spot on.
I was really rooting for Kane to take on the Balenciaga job although I think PPR investing in his label was a much better idea. This collection proved that he’s got talent. It was rather large (60 looks in total) but he explored several ideas from camouflage to spliced velvet dresses which become more complex and innovative as the show went on. The details took everything from classic to the next level – feather trims, collars and hems; wires springing from dresses; and embroidered floral appliques. It cool and covetable.
Giles (left) and J.W Anderson (right)
Although last season was my favourite Giles collection by far, he continued to show his eye for couture and craftsmanship. There was a theatrical and fantastical side to the collection that reminded me of McQueen – Elizabethan style evening gowns with billowing sleeves and laser cut gold leather dresses were highlights. There was a modern touch thanks to digital prints and wool beanies on the models. Who cares if it was wearable – we all need a bit of fantasy now and then.
J.W Anderson is a designer who takes inspiration from the street and subcultures around him, giving his work a cool modern edge (he’s also part of the new generation of more conceptual designers). His minimalist shapes were more elongated this season with long baggy trousers paired with high necked shirts and tight mini dresses accented with colourful bands on the arm. There was a sporty feel but it also seemed luxe thanks to tailored shapes, technical fabrics and touches of fur (who else wants the fur tops with pockets?)
Mary Katrantzou (left) and Osman (right)
I was expecting a riot of prints and colour at Mary Katrantzou but was pleasantly surprised to see a pared back collection that still proved her talents as a digital printer. Using a mainly monochrome palette (highlighted by early 20th century black and white photography) the prints were often melancholic – a lonely man walking down an isolate street was one of my favourites. The overworked silhouettes (think origami folds and angular lines) weren’t always the best canvas but it was nice to see her explore new territory.
I was a fan of Osman way before Beyonce started wearing his clothes because he really has a knack of creating modern pieces that women want to wear. While Bouchra Jarrar exemplifies Parisian chic, Osman captures the same elegance albeit with a more edgy vibe. This season features more classics you will keep forever from the sheer white blouses and architectural cape tops, to the tailored wide legged trousers and asymmetric wool dresses. Absolutely sublime.
Richard Nicoll (left) and Simone Rocha (right)
Nicoll achieved the perfect balance of masculine and feminine with a light hand this season. The show opened with mannish oversized jackets and cropped trouser suits in a palette of silvery greys and blues. While his signature sporty vibe was there (I loved the jolts of orange) everything was executed in a luxe, refined manner from the cashmere denim and icy gowns with asymmetrical hems to the croc stamped fabrics. It was sexy yet confident.
Everyone is talking about Simone Rocha – her father is Hong Kong born British designer John Rocha – and she’s turning out to be one of London’s rising stars. Her collection was apparently inspired by her grannies although there was nothing prim and frumpy about her pink dresses (they came with pleated panels on one hip). The sheer polka dot sculpted dresses, sparkly tweed and leopard print faux furs were vintage in inspiration but had a 21st century cool factor. We’re fans.