London Fashion Week's Top 10 Shows. By Alison Bishop
While London Fashion Week is still noted for it's concentration of fresh talent—the new names that will be the future of fashion usually start out here and move on up quickly through the ranks—it's the designers that have been cutting their teeth for a while now that were the real stars of this LFW. Check out the designers and shows that made our top 10 list.
Luella Bartley showed that as London's original frock queen she has staying
power. Showing her most accomplished collection in the Serpentine Gallery's Crystal Palace, she chose "a mashed up eccentric old lady" collection full of psychedelic colors. Actually they were saccharine but strangely appealing—we loved the peachy tweeds and lilac pleated dresses. And considering that last season's mini-floral print blouses were such a hit, she's upped the ante with more tea-dress style florals and sun-ray pleat options. Note: Hold Luella personally responsible for the lady-like veiled hat craze that has already started to sweep London.
With his best show to date, a more grown up Richard Nicoll has taken the spot at LFW recently left by Jonathan Saunders. Nicoll's languid take on casual elegance left a rapturous audience in awe of his new direction toward easy American sportswear dressing with column dresses in fluid satins, draped T-shirt dresses, and long line blazers finished with a bejeweled button. His mix of bright color blocking with pale neutrals marked a new and more sophisticated direction for the designer who has taken his latest season's sponsorship and invested wisely—something that the fashion crowd (presumably on both sides of the Atlantic) will be in favor of.
"You know how I like to reference the movies in my collections?" Christopher Kane said backstage. "Well this season it's all about Planet of the Apes and The Flintstones." So, if we're all going to do dinosaurs for next season, Kane fans will need to channel the 3D scales look he crafted out of leather and organza semicircular cutting—beautifully executed for a black leather jacket, more challenging for a yellow leather voluminous skirt. The animal-print cashmere jumpers in bright orange will surely be a hit while the scallop edging will survive after being paired down for a modern day (non-prehistoric) fashion crowd still following a masterful Kane.
One of London's brightest stars, Marios Schwab entered a new era for spring with a more polished, elegant collection, one that managed to make glamour look summery and modern at the same time. "I was inspired by the chiton and how a piece of cloth can become a garment by just wrapping a rope around it, holding it to the body. I was interested in the way the clothes almost became jewelry pieces," he said. Schwab's heavy use of sponsor Swarovski crystals added a quiet glitz among the well-cut suede dresses and silvery, shimmering washed leather dresses that just cried out to be worn on the party circuit. Schwab's modern take on the '80s trend was a welcome shot of glamour among the tacky.
Another Topshop New Gen sponsorship recipient, knitwear queen Louise Goldin is single-handedly carving out a modernist following for her sci-fi and graphic knits in London. For spring she was inspired by views of the earth's surface through remote sensing instrumentation for a futuristic take on sculptural body armor. Her complex knit structures are in a league of their own and with fine jersey and silk fabric mesh layering being added to her repertoire, it's most definitely a Goldin moment for the young designer.
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