Kinder Aggugini’Quite simply? Conceptual glamour’, said a post-show Aggugini, who was lamenting the loss of luxury in fashion’s ’mass production’ world. Inspired by the eccentric art collector and embracer of all things bohemian, Peggy Guggenheim, Aggugini wanted to create a collection of pieces that the great lady herself would wear. Big on luxurious detailing, the collection’s emphasis was on cut and silhouette. Exposed seams and deconstructed cut sat well with details like painstakingly cut out flower patterns, and a new, subtle variation on the exaggerated outerwear theme.
Jonathan SaundersLinear, modern and minimal - it became apparent after just a few looks why Saunders chose an expansive blank canvas floor in the Paddington Central complex for his collection’s debut. Overall, the silhouette he chose to peg onto the girls was one of streamlined elegance, with skirt hems rarely straying above the calf, set to boxy sleeve and neckline shapes. But this didn’t spell the end of fun for the Saunders girl. As the collection progressed, so did the stray away from prim and proper proportions - ladylike skirts were slit way above modesty levels, while a clever play with his iconic colour-blocking was further shown in the beautifully executed flower and foliage print on flouncy fabric.
Margaret HowellFor her ’Studio Show’, held in her Marylebone store (cleared for the day of all the Vitsoe shelving and Ercol furniture), Margaret Howell treaded her carefully chosen path. No news there, but she notably introduced many more skirts and - somewhat of a departure for her - colour. No, not the flouros that are currently hitting shop floors, but colour as paired down, studied and worked as the rest of her product, like the minky-pink of suede brogues, the bitter brown leather of a trench, washed out faded shoes in silk, and the warm creamy grey of cashmere cable knits. Her clothes are almost ’plain’, but take a closer look and not only are the fabrics (often specially developed in the UK) superb, but the details, functional as ever, make all the difference. It’s the length of a sleeve on a blazer (way above the wrist), the hem of a dress (peaking out below a tailored coat), the belts that fasten at the back (making them a graphic band around the waist), the enlarged height of a rib on a roll-neck or the over-scaled, fully fashioning on the knit, that gives them their allure.
Vivienne WestwoodBritishness is not a theme anyone struggles with when it comes to Westwood. That said, this season it was well-rounded in approach. Take for instance the ebb and flow of a regular day on Portobello Road - think market stall sellers, vintage collectors, fruit and veg men, the countryside gentry and even west-end kids coming home from an all-night bender - and you get the picture. This explains a lot about the wilder than wild styling, which manifested itself in the fantastic super-jumble of fabrics, colours and layers that only Westwood could get away with. The brand’s iconic asymmetric drapings, so emphasised in last season’s skirt suit tailoring, was this time toned down and translated in waifish cardigans, printed silk taffeta and jersey dresses. Shades were kept to an autumnal palette of maroon, navy, terracotta orange and mauve, so the pièce de résistance colour-wise came in the form of an amazing techni-colour feather jacket, which in true market style, looked like it had been fashioned together by a style-centric stall owner with a few feather dusters to spare.
Jonny Johansson likes a woman who earns her keep - or so it would seem from the boiler suits, denim shirts and dungarees that marched their way around the Acne runway. Jackets took on gargantuan proportions, in wool and leather, while colours moved from cobalt blue to muted pinks and yellows, all the way to mustard. Flashes of femininity came in the form of metallics, sheer-backed blouses and of course, that Acne staple - enormous wedges.
Richard NicollRichard Nicoll’s invitation opened up to reveal a cut-out of a moth set over mustard-coloured font, which were the beginnings for a collection that predominantly took on shades of mustard, cream and peach. There was a refreshing sense of aerodynamicism in cut and fabric, which while willowy and sheer, still managed to seem constructed and considered. This is Nicoll’s forte, and one he does better than anyone else. Floaty silk trousers were trailed with an overlay of sheer skirt-like trains, colour-blocking was subtly tonal, and heavier pieces such as jackets and blazers continued the call for movement through shiny fabrics and tactful ruching.
In the opulent Drapers’ Hall, crisp tailoring was the order of the day at Antonio Berardi - where jackets with draped fronts and curved seams scooped down into pleated and folded skirts. Gradually these heavily sculpted forms got more and more carved up and sliced away, replaced by planes of lace and slighter silhouettes. Colours came in every shade of grey, cream and navy, lifted by jolts of orange and lime, while sharp lines were softened by punching, embroidery and studding.
Peter PilottoCredited in previous seasons for his astute observation that looking like a lady doesn’t mean dressing like a school teacher, Peter Pilotto, along with his partner Christopher De Vos, proved his theory once more with a collection that, for all its elegance, was still fluid, free and comfortable. Floaty, wide-leg trousers were layered with loose short skirts, while tops were draped and wrapped with ease across the body. Equally mix-matched to perfection were the block colours and mixed patterns. And just as you began to drift off in the romantic mash-up of it all, Pilotto brought out his pièce de résistance: the classic three-quarter-length tailored coats that, as they paraded down the catwalk, were accompanied by the sound of furious scribbling among the buyers and editors in the audience.
Pringle of ScotlandThe Pringle of Scotland show opened with a short blanket wrap cape, in a kind of bias cut Celtic Fairisle pattern with a tuck-stitch fringe. The looks that followed reworked many other vintage Pringle of Scotland jacquards and stitches (rediscovered at the brand’s recent Day of Record). The clever thing about Clare Waight Keller is the way she mixes up all these patterns and stitches, contrasts the scales and unifies them through colour. She also masterfully combines knit with jersey, fabric, leather or fur - as if designing sweaters is not enough of a creative challenge. Laser-cut leather fretwork gets bonded to plain knit, and fur gets many outings, such as the mink intarsia used for the decorative yoke of a traditional Fairlise, or knitted in with the cashmere and wools. It was an eclectic, richly decorative collection with paired down shapes.
Pringle of Scotland
Pringle of Scotland
Burberry ProrsumWhen is a coat not a coat? When Christopher Bailey turns the Burberry trench into a coat-dress. Using a full repertoire of colourful, double-faced gabardine, brushed woollen plaids, compact wool jersey and even winter-white Aran-style cable knit jacquard, Bailey explored almost every possibility in this concept of one-piece dressing. He also brought volume and shape into the equation (the origins probably with Cristóbal Balenciaga in the 1950s and 60s) with dropped waist peplums, sculptural sleeves and bubble backs. It was all very smart-for-day, with colour co-ordinated bags and outfits and more than a hint of Jean Shrimpton (backstage Bailey said that she used to model in the brand’s campaigns). Flat caps got a luxury ’upgrade’ in jaguar mink, while contrast detailing in black leather and glossy patent were taken from the duffle coat and placed on the front of sweaters, dresses and, of course, coats. A Burberry show has become quite the production of late, this time proved no exception. We were treated to a sprinkling of real snow for the finale, with all the models kept warm and dry beneath glossy, transparent rain capes and white mink caps.
Mark FastThe knitwear master’s second London Fashion Week outing was one of contrasts. There were dresses so finely contoured to the body that they looked like extensions of the models’ muscular systems, then there were huge cropped jackets with concertina-effect pleats that looked like they might take flight. Sometimes the detailing was extremely intricate, while other times it appeared plump and full, as if freshly shorn from a sheep, with a ripple effect created by steaming the wool so it shrank. And then there was leather, which came in undulating form as tunics or long, billowing coats.
GilesAfter the show, Giles Deacon told us that his new collection was taught and haughty, austere and buttoned-up. That meant plenty of pleats gathered into high necks, bodices made from bands of ribbons in leather or silk, wrapped around the body like bandages, and leather tailored to feel almost like armour. The starting point for this very disciplined show (highlighted by the graphic use of black and white) was Paul Delaroche’s The Execution of Lady Jane Grey at the National Gallery. Prints inspired by William De Morgan, a tile painter working for William Morris, injected some jolty colour into this mainly monochrome collection. Goat hair and peacock feathers, burnt and bleached, made some terrific volumes, masterfully executed for evening gowns.
Paul SmithClothes for a confident woman, who does not aim to seek attention, is what Paul Smith said about his collection. The designer wanted to go back to his DNA, and for one of his most focused and strongest shows to date that is exactly what he did, he called it Pure Paul Smith. It seemed like the early days, when Paul Smith only made menswear and the wives, girlfriends and significant others borrowed from their partners. Coats, pants, cardigans, even shirts, ties and waistcoats, all had their roots in mens wardrobes, but were cut for girls. Smith worked a good classic day palate, highlighted with a flashes of pink and orange here and there. He perfected proportions, balanced the slim and oversized, matching the petit with the ample in the same look. A ribbed granddad cardigan has never looked so good.
Opening his show with a series of risqué granny-chic crochet garments, it was clear from the start that Christopher Kane’s latest collection was going to be an experimental, contradictory and even a slightly twisted affair. And how right we were. As traditional craftsy moved into dresses trimmed with squidgy plastic filled with bubbling liquid, which in turn moved into full-blown sequins excess, Kane was pushing the very concept of textiles to its outer edges – and enjoying every minute.
Mary KatrantzouPhotographic images of refined and precious objects such as Meissen porcelain, Coromandel screens and Fabergé eggs got the Katrantzou treatment, placement printed and re-engineered on to the body in her now signature style. Her silhouette has evolved, now part 1930s and 40s couture, and is partly formed by her selected objects - think an open Fabergé egg or a porcelain bowl over a slim column. Katrantzou told us back in December, when developing the collection, that she was trying to create garments for an imaginary woman who lived with these precious objects, or resided in the interiors she used last season. New from her this season, exciting knit jacquards based on the same rich imagery, produced by expert Italian knitwear specialists. Kratrantzou takes the ’wearable art’ idea to a whole new level and although these garments could be considered over embellished, top to Christian Louboutin-enamelled toe in pattern, some how she gets the whole thing right and it works well.
Marios SchwabTraditional craft and hand-worked techniques were two big bullet points on Schwab’s agenda for fall. You can just imagine the designer reading modernist architect Adolf Loos’ 1908 article ’Ornament and Crime’ (which decreed that ornamentation makes things quickly go out of style) and making a mental note to disprove it. The resulting offering from the form-obsessed designer was a sensitive lesson in detailing - think broguing on corseted leather tops and embellishments on rich wool fabric and thick leather. Seemingly simple slip dresses were adorned with leather straps or intricate silver chains, and pearls were stitched on to dresses to outline the body’s curves.
AquascutumStart as you mean to go on, they say. In the case of Joanna Syke’s womenswear design debut at Aquascutum, this meant opening the show with a trench-tastic, loosely cut number, topped at the collar with a giant fur shrug - a deconstructed play on proportion that we quickly deduced was the basis for the texture-rich collection. Feeding winter dressers with a charged up remix of outerwear staples like the trenchcoat, field jacket, puffer and pea coat, Syke played with proportion and silhouette, so that trenches had additions like leather sleeves, or fur-lined lapels, pea coats had exaggerated, shoulder-enhancing cuts, and one curious parka even had a baseball cap that acted as a hood. Overall, there was a sense of chi chi wearability to it all
Fashion East: James LongMenswear designer James Long is now trying his hand at womenswear and it’s working out well for the young designer from Northhampton. In his new collection, which included some very punchy pieces, knitting was the name, and fringing was the game. There was crocheted fringing on dresses, some very intricate gypsy-style knit patterns on maxi dress hems, a giant poncho with gargantuan fringing, and a rather cool, deconstructed knit treatment to a particularly stunning, long-sleeved white dress.
Fashion East:James Long
Fashion East:James Long
Fashion East:Elliot AtkinsonShort, tough, figure-hugging silhouettes - with a trippy hit of texture if you squinted in the shadows - paired with some very commendable tailoring, and tartan and arran wool, saw Atkinson hit all the right notes in his portrayal of Native American culture and the Scottish Highlands. Where he excelled was with wardrobe staples like trousers, shirts and dresses, which were given just that extra bit of detailing, the deconstructed treatment, and thoughtful colour coding. The neutral palette of whites, creams, and blacks was also nicely broken up with powdery-lilac pieces.
Fashion East:Elliot Atkinson
Fashion East:Simone RochaIt’s no secret that we’re partial to a bit of Louise Bourgeois, so imagine our rapt at finding out that Rocha took inspiration from the formidable art force herself for her second collection. This meant precise tailoring being cut away to reveal hollow panels or fake fur blocks, and an arran-knit tube dress being encased in layers of cotton candy-esque tulle, while the push and pull between masculine and feminine was seen in shoes that looked like high heels at first, but on closer inspection were platformed brogues with transparent perspex heels.
Fashion East:Simone Rocha
Roksanda IlincicWe found ourselves in a state of blissful relaxation in the midst of the Roksanda Ilincic show. Perhaps it was the muted lighting in Pall Mall’s Institute of Directors or the live piano performance of Nirvana’s ’Smells Like Teen Spirit’ - but we like to think it had something to do with the therapeutic, river-like fluidity of the satin draping and textured cuts, which gave everything a mesmerising depth. There was a successful coupling of cashmere sweatshirts and felted wool T-shirts with long satin evening skirts, while dresses were armed with feather embellishments, a leopard print waistband, or 1940s-style shoulder enhancing silhouettes. The real gasp point, however, was when the decadent satin eveningwear gown came out paired with a shocking red fur stole. Then Ilincic’s oeuvre finally took full flight.
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