London Fashion Week: Six key trends
The Queen may have dominated events on the runway; but plenty of other elements inspired designers this season, from the childlike to the perverse.
Slanted, cut at odd angles and done in absurdist colors, stripes were all over the London runway: from the bright chevrons at Peter Pilotto, to the way-out one-shoulder dresses in caramel lines by Roksanda, stripes dominated the UK catwalks. And the more contrast in the materials the better; like JW Anderson where matte leather, linen and sequined stripes all clashed. While at Emporio Armani the colors were like English summer rock candy sold on beaches. Even Victoria Beckham got in on the movement; her second line Victoria came with all sorts of striped summer suits in pale blue and lime. And Henry Holland’s entire runway was made of curvy blue stripes.
Naughty but Nice
The British have always loved to be guilty about sex. Where the French regard it as a playful pastime, and the Italians a driving force in the human condition, our English cousins often regard sex as essentially illicit and faintly bad. Consider Christopher Kane. His muse for spring was Cynthia Payne, notorious for hosting “sex parties” in suburban Streatham. So key items were see-through laundry bag lace and dresses whose midsections featured photos of women’s panties. At Ralph & Russo, the sexuality was far more high-end, grand sheer negligee dresses; and at Simone Rocha the pure prim dresses were ruched into something far more suggestive. While Henry Holland said his collection was designed for “seductive swashbuckling sirens," Jonathan Anderson reduced his flowing silhouette to a series of taut, redolent bustiers. And Roland Mouret’s finest look was the one shoulder, violet, semi-sheer chiffon dress that had everyone’s pulse racing.
Fur and Anti Fur
Just when you thought that PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) was a spent force, when along comes a new generation to target fashion as a giant evil. Scores of protestors almost sealed off the entrance to three major shows – Burberry, Gareth Pugh and Versus – yelling and waving posters of bloody animals at the guests. Several women dressed in body stockings printed to look like humans who had been skinned alive. Ironically, there has rarely been so little fur on display in London. Though we did witness shearling wrap coats at Burberry. Moreover, in central Pall Mall, with its classical gentlemen’s boutiques – there has never been so many expensive hunting accessories stores in living memory.
The Architectural Bag
Roksanda staged her show outside the Serpentine Gallery, which each year commissions a noted architect to build a path-breaking structure. So Francis Kéré’s design for 2017 was inspired by the tree that served as the meeting point in his hometown of Gando in Burkina Fasso. One side-product, remarkable Roksanda bags with interlocking metal loops and fine wood handles. While Jonathan Anderson presented soft ergonomic bags with his signature faux anchor logo.
Besides the obvious references to Queen Elizabeth in Erdem’s black jazz singer meets royal princess collection; Burberry showed aristocratic military in some wonderful mutant tailoring. The monarchy’s long love affair with the Scottish Highlands was also echoed in a elegant show by Pringle, which featured remarkable cashmere blends on which were printed images of the wild Northern Scottish moors.
Sophisticated naivety will always have a place in Old England – from Finding Neverland starring Johnny Depp. Playfulness was also the leitmotif at Mary Katrantzou. Her doll like shaped dresses were rendered more childlike by being accompanied by knee socks; her silks tops came in naïve florals, and models carried bags cut in the shape of pink flamingoes. Over at Henry Holland, playful embroideries of beach shells and starfish were standouts.
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