Kate Lawson looks back over the past six days at the most hotly anticipated London fashion event this side of 2012: LFW. Here she recalls her AW trend spots and show highlights.
This year London proved that it can compete on a global stage with its biannual fashion week, not just in having a powerhouse of big brands and stalwart presentations, but in continuing to showcase emerging designers who are not afraid to push the barriers of creativity. Harnessing that talent and promoting it to a global audience through a fusion of fashion and digital innovation is the BFC and their official video distributor, Rightster, who this season reported an unprecedented worldwide online audience tuning in to watch the best of Britain’s designers reveal their AW12 collections.
As Somerset House and various London venues played host to the shows, a new silhouette emerged on this season’s catwalks, with Christopher Kane, Peter Pilotto, Jonathan Saunders and Burberry all introducing fitted, figure-hugging pieces which empowered the female form and celebrated womanly sophistication. Even Erdem’s usually dainty floral whimsy featured painterly prints and dark lace, which brought a fresh and more mature edge to the girlie prim.
There was also the usual British heritage chic affair at Burberry, as they appeared to take us on a countryside shooting party with the traditional trench given a tweed makeover, along with flat caps, fur collared jackets, full-skirted velvet coats and fox-head belt accessories – all rounded off with a typically British rainstorm (albeit man-made).
Corrie Nielsen also invited us into the great outdoors on a highland fling through bold tartans, voluminous capes and structural dresses, all in rich tones inspired by Scottish clans and medieval English and Scottish forms of dress and lifestyle.
LFW wouldn’t be LFW without an element of fun of course, and at PPQ there was an “on yer bike” moment as models were sent down the runway pushing bikes from Rule, due to a new collaboration with the brand. Aside from their statement belted coats in tweed and checkered mohair, some with embellished oversized hoods – the label went a little bit panto with jewel-encrusted leggings from Bebaroque and wet look bloomers, only for the brave!
The fun and magic continued as the Meadham Kirchoff show turned into a disco inferno meets house of horror-inspired extravaganza – and over at the McQ label, a scene-stealing finale took place where Kristen McMenamy followed a piece of rope from the end of the catwalk into a forest of trees with a small house nestled in the middle. It brought the spectacle and magic of McQueen back to London, and ahead of the label’s first store opening in London in April, Creative Designer Sarah Burton said, “I wanted a show that defined the McQ woman and the world she lives in”. That world unfolded as models in belted military-style frock coats, sculpted gowns in embroidered tulle (one in rainbow-inspired shades particularly stood out), tartan dresses and blood-red velvets walked along a catwalk strewn with autumnal leaves.
Giles also injected his unique sense of playfulness into the proceedings, as he sent models down the catwalk in Miss Havisham-esque post-fire burnt white dresses, black velvet and satin tailcoats and sculptural silhouettes with a ghostly edge set off by oversized Stephen Jones headdresses.
Over at Westwood’s Red Label show, the usual outlandish affair was muted slightly, though still retaining an eclectic mix of sharp tailoring fused with her punk cross signature, aboriginal art and animal skins with a painterly effect.
Mary Katrantzou and Ashish were my highlights of the week though, with Ashish bringing a contemporary 90s grunge-meets-festival-goer edge to the catwalk, with paisley, tie-dye and sequined pieces fused with acid brights and slogans such as “Say No To Drugs”.
Katrantzou continued her flare for digital prints, with key board, typewriter, hedgerows and teapot prints bringing an eclectic collage of the everyday made surreal, seen across her trademark sculpted shapes. The designer’s first ever capsule collection for Topshop also went down a storm, with the ‘pheasant dress’ as worn by Poppy Delevingne at the ELLE Style Awards selling out in two minutes!
Trend-wise, next season look out for brocade as seen at Matthew Williamson, Louise Gray and Paul Smith; Military green (McQ, Acne and Peter Jensen); Puffa Jackets (Acne, Burberry, Rokanda Ilinic, Marios Schwab and Peter Pilotto); Roll necks (Erdem, Unique, Jonathan Saunders, Pringle and Marios Schwab); Baseball jackets (Pringle, Jonathan Saunders, Mulberry); Dungarees (Louise Gray, Acne and Unique); Loose fitting leather (seen on wide-leg trousers at Unique); Peplums (on waxed coats at Burberry and at graphic dresses at David Koma) and the peak cap – seen everywhere!
Then there’s the “Del Rey”, the new retro-style Mulberry bag in a variety of colours and leathers created in homage to everyone’s husky-voiced musical crush, Lana Del Rey. The bag appeared on Mulberry’s frow (as did the singer), in white ostrich and is launched here in May. Although at £650, you may/may not be rocking that trend.
Music-wise, the Lana soundtrack of last season was replaced by US rapper Azealia Banks, who also appeared at Topshop’s party to celebrate ten years of NewGen. Her “212” song was heard at House of Holland, Mulberry and Topshop Unique. But song of the week had to go to Mulberry who closed their show of luxe-pieces adorned with mongolian fur, (inspired by Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are), with a nod to the Muppets song “MaNaMaNa”.
London Fashion Week is perfectly placed in between the sometimes lacklustre collections at New York (with the exception of Alexander Wang, Prabal Gurung, Victoria Beckham and Jeremy Scott); the darling of the catwalks – Paris, and Milan – which aside from Prada, is generally predictable (with too much fur).
So with the debut of McQ’s enchanted forest and the return of Stella M and her all-singing all-dancing supermodels, in London it’s pretty clear you never know what’s coming next – and that’s just the way we like it.