London is the wild child of the four main fashion shows. It’s more exciting than New York but yet it’s never taken quite as seriously as Milan or Paris. A large part of this must be due to the often eccentric, over-the-top collections that typically don’t sell as well as the more staid pieces shown in the other cities. In addition to the funkier designers inspired more by street culture than her Majesty like Luella Bartley (though she now shows in New York) and other less wearable designers, there’s the traditional, polished aspect of â€˜Britishness’ exemplified by the likes of Burberry (though it now shows in Milan). These differing influences and tensions are in part what makes London fashion week so dynamic.
Aquascutum, another one of the more traditional design houses, presented a polished, well tailored, and casually elegant collection with not one unwearable piece. The coats were quite spectacular, including the must have empire lined, bubble shaped yellow one that everybody’s already raving about. Preen showcased a number of interesting, often show stopping, short dresses in cream, red, blue, and black. Though they came in different silhouettes, emphasis on the waist was key. Many also exhibited revealing geometric cuts on the front, but at times they appeared less sophisticated than hoped for and trickier to wear, as evidenced by a couple of nipple slips.
Antoni and Alison also presented a very polished collection, though this one was much more playful, in part because it refrained from showing too many coats and focused instead on dresses, skirts, and sweaters, not to mention a jumpsuit, in mostly blue, gold, and neutral colors. The casual dresses, most knee length, came in various shapes and fun prints, while a few of the shirts had the words â€œartistâ€? and â€œveganâ€? emblazoned on them. Outlandish accessories and colorful shoes helped complete the tone. Karen Walker showed us what a hip, edgy girl who doesn’t think too much of what she has on would be wearing. There was an â€œeffortless coolâ€? to the outfits, which included cropped jackets, waist cinching dresses in different fabrics and prints (most notably plaid) and mini tulip skirts. There was a lot of male inspired attire as well in the big sweaters, ties, and trousers. Paul Smith attempted a collection of male clothes tailored to women, and while there were a few winning pieces, overall it felt rather dowdy.
Giles Deacon fused colorful, frivolous looks in various silhouettes with sleeker, body hugging outfits. The results were mixed. Odd hats, loose patchwork like dresses, and one with a pink elephant on it were not very successful. Most others, including a short shiny pink printed dress with voluminous sleeves, a pink zebra striped coat, and a black dress with circled ruffled bottoms, were strong hits.
Many of the collections referenced the 90s, particularly Gianni Versace, in short, tight body hugging dresses. The culprits included Marios Schwab and Sinha-Stanic. Over at the darker print crazy Basso & Brooke, 80s references prevailed, from leggings to puffy sleeves. Jonathan Saunders presented one of the more memorable collections. It evoked a quiet, urban loneliness accomplished through the loose black dresses with a repeating print pattern of gray, rectangular shapes.
And what’s London without those â€œout-thereâ€? collections? Manish Arora presented a global pastiche of shiny prints in overwhelming, voluminous dresses. Gareth Pugh had a highly abstract collection that evoked harlequins gone bad. Of course there were many others that were outlandish in this vein, but the collections that worked the best were those that successfully incorporated eccentricity into polished, well-cut pieces.