London Fashion Week is, probably more than any other fashion capital, all about freewheeling freedom of expression. Here are some highlights from the recent spring shows.
At Burberry Prorsum, Christopher Bailey served up a delicious feast for the eye by way of shimmery candy-colored dresses and corseted swimsuits beneath equally tasty wrappers (think: succulent raspberry trenches and metallic blue cocktail capes), culminating in feather and lace numbers. Yum!
Paul Smith mined his favorite boy-meets-girl territory with pleated cropped trousers, ruffle placket shirts, and relaxed blazers, many boasting jewel-tone colorblocking – which also came into play on slit-thigh chiffon skirts and drop-waist dresses.
“Chastity and perversity!” Tom Ford announced when introducing his latest outing. And while the collection seemed a bit thin on chastity, perversity shone through via bondage knot blouses, shiny patent pencil skirts, sheer-bodice sequin gowns, and sexy patent coats. Body con bermudas, buckled leather jackets, and strappy, over-the-knee boots rounded out the offerings, which definitely skewed more naughty than nice.
Vivienne Westwood Red Label went in the opposite direction, showcasing fifties-style nipped-waist dresses, fine gauge twinsets, jacquard skirt suits, and ladylike cocktail frocks worn with prim pumps, pillbox hats, and Barbara Bush-worthy pearls. But lest you think Viv has gone soft, the designer emerged at the finale in cartoonish makeup and a helmet to unfurl a banner reading “Climate Revolution.”
Peter Pilotto and his equally print-happy design partner Christopher De Vos were decidedly in the here-and-now with elaborate 3-D embroidery, digital print pencil pants, sculpted peplum jackets, and ruffled dresses – everything (including shoes) patterned to within an inch of its life.
Mulberry creative director Emma Hill was in an upbeat mood when designing this season’s collection, judging from the floral jacquard toppers, leather blousons, and blossom- and gecko-sprigged frocks and sweaters. There were oodles of covetable floral print bags and shoes, too – along with a Mulberry-clad Standard Poodle walking the runway (cute!) and Kate Moss, Lana Del Rey, Gillian Anderson, Olivia Palermo, and Alexa Chung in the front row.
Artists Josef Albers and Niki de Saint Phalle and Britain’s 1970s Northern Soul movement were designer Roksanda Ilincic‘s jumping-off point for spring. This resulted in relaxed-yet-ladylike silhouettes with unexpected texture and color mash-ups (heavy on cobalt and citrus hues) that gave the designer’s relatively spare cuts a lively jolt.
Louise Gray titled her spring collection “Now What” – and she answered that question with colorful high-tech fabrications and prints (including a cool woven newsprint pattern and fun 3-D appliqués), along with a trio of Barbie signature dresses worn with two-tone creepers, tattoo-print tights, and cartoony makeup.
Handbag doyenne Anya Hindmarch promised her audience “Pomp & Pleasure” for spring – and she more than delivered in a presentation that featured bright damask envelope clutches, luxe cross-bodies, and ladylike structured bags. It was all presented in an illustrated trompe-l’oeil carousel set piece, complete with the designer herself playing a faux piano at the grand finale.
Lauren David Peden writes for Rue La La as a Contributing Editor.