Refinery29 rounds up the best shows from London Fashion Week. By Gabriel Bell
In the wake of New York's frostbitten Fashion Week, we could think of little more than warmer climes and hotter looks. But thankfully, there will always be an England.
Historically more temperate in weather and daring in design than anything in Bryant Park, London Fashion Week not only steered clear of New York's soft knits, but offered welcome shots of color, contrast, and bravado. Now, London being London, the looks ran a little darker and cut a little deeper than simple street-wear. But we think it's always good to start the season with some attitude. Here are our favorites from last week's British invasion.
Like another beneficiary of Top Shop's wide-reaching sponsorships, Christopher Kane, Schwab is a forward-thinking designer with one foot in the '80s and an approach to the femme that bridges generations. Also like Kane, Schwab's work for fall was marked by matte blacks and subtle hints of bondage. Unlike Kane though, this young Greek incorporated decidedly less sexualized silhouettes, best represented through nipped puffy coats and a regal ensemble that seemed equal parts kimono and evening gown. Schwab's usual shrink-fit evening dresses assumed a new maturity through the use of more seasonal materials and the sharp application of blue and red on black.
We've seen few collections (with any country code) as innovative and inspiring as Saunders' bold experiment in thick lines and vertical geometry. Multiple takes on his slender but powerful column-like form served as a steady base for rectangular compositions as subtle as stop signs—gradiated, multihued textiles that faded from blue to white, and punches of canary yellow that still have us seeing spots. Nearly every look was a standout, even if they'll have a hard time fitting into a crowd. Perhaps it was a tad too reminiscent of '60s futurism…but who cares. It was fun, and arguably Saunders' most memorable turn-out to date.
Featuring black, black, and more black, Morrow's fall harvest quietly reveled in the time-honored practice of bundling up. Resembling champagne glasses wrapped in midnight origami, Morrow's ladies strode down the runway sporting massive scarves, shoulders, and sleeves all atop simplified underpinnings. Covered in folds, but rarely betraying their seams, these rare creations appeared ideal for making an entrance with due drama but little spectacle.
Speaking of titanic scarves, the East End's P.T. Barnum, Giles Deacon, sent model Coco Rocha down the catwalk in a thickly knit wrap so large and arresting that we almost missed the nest of black quills orbiting her face. Outsized knitwear—practically a parody of other trends—was just the most humorous part of this three-ring circus that also happened to feature brilliant patchwork dresses, exquisite anemone-like gowns, and dodgy feathered sandals. Pyrotechnics aside, even Deacon's less successful flights of fancy are buttressed by mastery of seams and silk. The simple, shining dresses worn beneath most of his special effects didn't hang on his models—instead, they flowed right along with them.
Every year, the press platoons another developing talent into Rising Star duty. This year's draftee, Nathan Jenden, comes with a New York pedigree, a touch of sock-hop kitsch, and yards and yards of black taffeta. Keeping an eye on the clothes, one could see that Jenden does have a knack for inflated, asymmetrical forms that replace '50s cocktail-dress lace and ruffle with '80s sheen and leather. Bouffant hairdos and suede-topped boots gave a knowing nod to the girls who swung with Rude Boys back when Ska ruled the London clubs.
Velvet—that heart-shaped chocolate box of the fashion world—has made many an unwelcome appearance this season. But leave it to the cunning Kane to create a Valentine's Day collection that wrangled that same sappy fabric in the name of sex. Shifting to a richer assortment of jewel tones, one of London's loudest young lions layered his sharp, romantic tops, skirts, and dresses over an almost uniform base of sheer black. The glorious use of ruffled leather in both bodices and wide, folded skirts added a touch of kink to a sly and sumptuous fall line that wrapped hard-edged ladies in alternating soft and sleek textures.
Refinery29 rounds up the best shows from London Fashion Week.