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.
Erdem Moralioglu is the new crown prince of couture-style dressing in London. His 'Midsummer Night's Dream meets Brideshead Revisited' collection was beyond pretty and inspired by dreams in his childhood and his thoughts about how he used to draw. "I just wanted it to feel very ethereal and pretty," he said backstage. The designer loves to experiment with fabrics, and this time he reveled in using more cotton that silk, "I love creating luxurious dresses out of less expensive fabrics." Edwardiana seemed to be his chosen era for lace and broderie anglais, white frilled knee-length dresses with longer columnar pieces in smoky iced blue and white lace or a sugar pink corset dress covered in hundreds of petals.
Eastern European designer Roksanda Ilincic found a new stride and a new romanticism in her feminine signature style, which was less like her usual couture aesthetic and more boudoir. With a palette of muted rose pinks, lilac, gray, and burgundy against black and white monochrome, her fluid dresses came tiered and ruffled draped in gauzy net or covered in chunky glass Sworovski beading. Cascades of hydrangea-colored flowers added a bridal touch, too. Elegant silks and satins marked an easier, looser style
for the designer whose previous structured pieces have given her a couture name, now her new boudoir look should provide a fresh perspective.
One of London's most coveted names in overseas markets, Giles Deacon always manages to find a new pop-culture reference point for his edgy yet glam collections, and this season the '80s gaming hit Pac-Man made an unlikely fashion appearance. Sports-vixen-meets-cyber-glamour-girl was the Giles message for spring '09, and aside from the black-and-white brush-stroke body-con and trapeze jacquard dresses, it was the capsule range of wool jersey bright dresses that proved he still has an eye on the
commercial winners among the fash-pack editorial hits.
Arguably one of the hottest London party scene labels right now, PPQ was an
early highlight at LFW for its sassy and fresh take on dressing up and simply having fun with showing off. We particularly loved the headgear—some of the best bow decorations of the week. Amy Molineux, one half of design duo for PPQ, said the Le Style Anglais collection was based on geometries and creating a print signature for the label, which is known for its party dresses. She said the stories ranged from Hector "your flared and fluid best friend, easy pieces in Gi styles, '50s and '70s dresses" or Rhombus "the square group tilted toward nautical niceness" or Zeladon "tighter than tight, showing the natural angles of your body." Actually she said they had so many new ideas they couldn't settle what to pick, so they stuck them all on the runway to let other people decide!
Scandi designer and Topshop New Gen regular, Ann-Sofie Back looked to have had a commercial moment when designing her spring '09 collection—using plastic surgery and liposuction as unlikely points of reference. Jail-bird chic was more like it with kooky black and white jersey stripe dresses among elongated lines from oversized boyfriend jackets and razor sharp lapels, and those navy fringes on suede jackets and dresses. Swing out sister! Loving the bling decorated sunglasses, adding a whole new DIY accessorizing moment.
London Fashion Week's Top 10 Shows.