Winter is nearly upon us so our thoughts turn to spring/summer as LFW SS11 begins. Even the weather warmed to the event as it went from crisp chilly days to end with blazing hot sunshine.
Early on Day one and opening the show at the BFC marquee catwalk was Paul Costelloe. Still sleepy, frantic shouting backstage put a smile on our bleary eyed faces.
Titled ‘A Long Day's Night', the collection is girly and described as ‘Tinkerbell turned party girl'. Cropped biker jackets are thrown in to give a harder edge but are softened with the use of lighter colours and soft sheen fabrics.
Skirt lengths go to the extremes - either short or maxis. The short skirts are fun and flirty whilst the maxis are elegant and ethereal – one a sensual diaphanous fabric with modesty only prevailing through the pale pink and blue zigzag wave pattern.
Colours are sugar pink, mint green, silver, pearl, greys and navy.The pinks formed abstract checks with navy and white, lightly spice up graphic patterns with pale apricot, zigzagged with pale blue in waves and graduated alone from light to a bolder hue. The mint green was refreshing in a shiny jacquard fabric.
Textures come in metallic weaves and twill, patterns in abstract checks and graphics. Large bows don the back of low backlines.
The short skirts swirled in skater style, cocooned legs in tulip and puff ball shapes and looked art deco in a dropped waist pleated style. The more interesting were the silver embossed puff ball dress tied at the bottom to form the shape of a large bow and the jacquard mint green dress looking futuristic with its stiff 3 tiered skirt.
To keep the smile on our faces, we were treated to Costelloe's six sons strutting down the catwalk (albeit nervously) suited and booted.
Kicking off the Vauxhall Fashion Scout at Freemasons Hall Covent Garden was Bunmi Koko. To celebrate the start of the show a lone Ekpe man danced in a bright red and yellow masquerade costume looking very much like a large pom pom. It was hard to visualise the collection usurping this, but amazingly it did.
Hear we saw no pretty summer pastels or girlie styles. Colours were bold monochrome, bright reds and burnt ochre. Prints are Ekpe, leopard and tie dye designed to create fiery flames. The style epitomises the confident feminine woman who knows what she wants and aims to get it. Titled ‘Matriarchy' the collection celebrates female empowerment whilst fusing cultures of Nigeria and the UK. This is power dressing with a wild twist – sharp tailoring, enhanced waists, and strong shoulders embellished with pom poms, beads and fringing. An eclectic mixture of fabrics and patterns are used together such as tweeds, organza and silk – all accessorised with ornate feathered masks.
There was a mixed reaction to this sleek ladylike lux inspired collection as you instantly thought ‘mother of the bride' due to the lengths of the skirts which are either on the knee or just below, plus the accessories of hats, long gloves and kitten heels .
For day wear there are sleeveless dresses in brightly coloured 50's print floral silk, polka dots and animal prints. Suits have full or pencil skirts and boxy jackets in white, black and yellow. All cinched in with skinny leather belts of various colours. Black Capri pants and leggings give a more youthful feel worn with tunic shirts in a monochrome check and a leopard print. Although not sure on the skull caps which looked suspiciously like rubber swimming hats.
For the evening, dress shapes vary from the shift dress to the full volume skirt. Colours are of soft golds, pearls, reds and black. LBDs are accessorised with diamond and pearls. Lots of sequins and beads.
This collection probably wouldn't appeal to the younger woman but then again it is right on track for Ascot, Goodwood and Henley's where fashion rules are not to be broken if you want to get in.
The designer duo's (Jenny Holmes and Dimitris Theocharidis) collection titled ‘Bandoliers' is inspired by the spirit of India with a touch of 19th Century Victorian British colonialism.
Silk turbans adorned the models' heads, handcrafted Indian trim embellished flowing fabrics and skinny pants whilst fabric versions of the bandoliers feature as low slung belts, cuffs, necklines and garters.
Denim creates contrasting structure in shorts, jackets and dresses. Colours are either block pastel hues of iris blue and dusty violet pink or raw ecru. The raw ecru splashed with hand painted colour was inspired by the Holi festival when coloured pigment and herbs are thrown in a joyful celebration.
Stiletto platform shoes were adorned with raw painted gold leaf, as was the model's arms, ankles, stomachs and even one nipple.
The Victorian influence came in the disguise of a corseted iris blue mini dress with soft side bustle and a mini dress version of the cage crinoline.
Day 2 and another early morning start on a chilly day. This time at the Off schedule location of the edgier Old Sorting Office's industrial hall in new Oxford Street
Titled ‘A Modern Romance' Chandran keeps pastel hues to a minimum preferring the richer tones of golds, greens, silver and black. His clean rectangular silhouettes are given texture through the use of a Malay technique called kerrawang, to create linear prints. Silk organza sleeveless tunic dresses show a military feel with oversized floating flap pockets and boxed sleeves, whilst the prints reflect the Malaysian rainforest.
Metallics bring fluidity and a sci-fi feel with liquid silver pieces and as multicoloured panels on dresses. Here we still see the floating pockets and the boxed sleeves become more exaggerated. New fabrics used are lurex silk and patent leather.
Evening wear in the guise of embellished structured lapels, one with an extremely low neckline which kept falling off the models shoulder, with the last outfit resembling the 1920's with its long straight camel maxi and ostrich feathers capelet.
Unfortunately for one model the winged styled shoes with their high and extremely thin killer heels almost made her crash land.
‘Siren Mermaids' inspired by Sirens of Greek mythology and the fantasy world of mermaids. Using cutting edge materials such as Japanese Kyototex metallic yarns in his knitwear techniques, Lawrence enables the garments to glisten as if wet. Colours are peacock green, silver and white. Long tube maxi dresses cling to the models like mermaid tails with the two toned greens and silver creating the illusion of fish scales. The garments are also turned inside out to show web like textures and chain mail detailing which adds to the illusion. A white strapless tube maxi is adorned with loose long yarns like floating seaweed, whilst an empire line maxi is covered with feather-like yarns to represent sea foam. Very mystical.
Next stop was Freemason's Hall to catch Lako Bukia's show. Titled ‘Surati', the collection has been dedicated to Georgian culture and religion, Bukia's native country. Colour palette of soft blues, pinks, greys and natural tones were taken from the Georgian buildings although red, midnight blue and black were also included. And strong shoulders souring out and upwards representing the silhouettes.
Light fabrics of silk satin, crepe and cotton contrasted well with the angular structured shoulders. Whilst a top layer of organza, georgette and chiffon are used to create the illusion of looking outwards through the curtains of windows. Dress shapes keep the buildings rectangular silhouette by either falling straight from the neckline or with drop waists. Whilst rows of windows are represented through the placement of strips of fabric crossing over each other, and the cutaway necklines.
The models wore shoes designed by Bukia with what is becoming to be her signature heel - chunky and triangular.
Back in the big tent at Somerset House, Osman proved to be in demand with some unlucky ticket holders being turned away.
Staple colours are tans, beiges and navy with a refreshing splash of honeysuckle pink, zingy yellow, and apple green.
Woven and soft patent leathers come in creamy beige sculpted shorts, swing skirts, and bandeau tunics. Cotton blended ottomans appear as crisp summer white dresses; lightweight gossamer silks come to life in the vivid hues and the organic dark blue denim brings an edge to sculpted tailored dresses
Hemlines bring interest to the minimalist tailoring with asymmetry, softly folded tiers, extremely long tail coats and attached coloured drapes of longer length.
Evening and just time enough to squeeze in another catwalk show before the Phrophetik after show party. This time the location was the Charing Cross hotel and the show called ‘A la Mode' was organised by La Genève North events. A LA MODE is a one stop destination to snap up and discover some of the best independent international designers.
OMAR MANSOOR‘s collection is named after Terence Rattigan's ‘After the Dance' – a play whose central characters have spent years in a round of endless hedonism in the 20s. Mansoor's designs reflect the glamour of this era with embellishments of Swarovskis and thread work on draped chiffons and silks in silver grey, dusty pink, wine and midnight blue. The long gowns ooze elegance and sophistication, whilst the knee length floaty cocktail dresses have a flirtier look allowing you to dance the night away.
VALERY KOVALSKA's collection ‘Professional Suicide' includes both mens and womenswear and has a contemporary punk rock edge. Various shades of blues with a striking design of white lightening. Weave designs on shirts and waistcoats add texture and loving the men's kilt style coat.
BELINDA LIU's ‘Marquis de Sade' collection takes its inspiration from the French aristocrat's libertine lifestyle and the fashion of his era. Here we see the modern version of the full bloomers over mini puffed skirts, corset style bodices, matching cuff bracelets and romantic lace hooded capelets. More wearable pieces include the tailored knee length dresses with matching capelets.
ZED-EYE . An eclectic mix of patterns and textures. Feathers adorn shoulders and waists, ruffles necklines and peplums, and a mesh of pearl beads around the neck. Floral patterned pencil skirt is matched with a striped blouse. Not all pieces are busy, such as the elegant jumpsuits in bold block colours of pink and blue with a touch of patterned trim.
MALAM's ‘Lost Dolls' collection is cute with a little edge - an assortment of lace, cotton, linen and silk. Black lace dress is adorned with a 2 tone metallic pink cowl neck collar and fingerless gloves, and there's a pantomime feel with principal boy style waist coats worn over girlie lace trimmed dresses and fairy wizard type pointed hoods.
KATE WILLIAMS's otherwise colour palette of black and white sees touches of tans, aquas and yellows in digital prints. The collection is a capsule wardrobe ranging from the black and white striped bikinis for the beach, tufted tasselled high waist shorts, jacquard trousers, white full skirted day dress, and digital printed jersey dresses to the floor length pearl satin evening dress.
Day 3 and back to Somerset House
BASSO AND BROOKE
The designer duo's, Bruno Basso & Christopher Brooke, collection is where' bleeding edge techno-fusion meets dusty hand scribbled antiquity'.
Digital prints of handwritten notes by Da Vinci, Tolstoy, Balzac and others mix with vintage florals and topography. Prints of suede, tweed and leather add digital texture to the smoother silks, cotton and gabardine.
Prim and proper necklines juxtapose with short flirty skirt lengths – long sleeved shirts buttoned to the top were worn with short swing skater skirts and mini shift dresses wore their necklines high.
Black and white multi tonal graduating stripes look striking as peg leg pants and capes. The neutral colour palette of earthy tones and pale dusty pastels is giving a jolt with electric blues and bright oranges joining the prints either as panels or the main piece.
ANN-SOFIE BACK ATELJE
After rushing to get to the Portico Rooms we then could relax and enjoy the slower paced salon show of Ann-Sofie Back. The theme for the collection is porn and the sexualisation of society.
Not being at all seedy the colour palette is sophisticated black and white. The look is simplistic with added twists: One fascinating white dress has the appearance of being damp and clung to the model's body. Detailing is seen as twisted plexi bras worn over simple tops, large silver rings framing cutaway circles on backs and tear drop jewellery weights securing the drape fabrics.
CHARLIE LE MINDU
It was a touch of the Emperor's New Clothes – did the models realise they were naked bar pink platform boots, wig and a hat? Apparently the effect was to focus on the wig and the hat – not sure it worked. I think part of the audience either concentrated on the boots with down cast eyes and the rest didn't look up as far as the models head.
Not all the models were naked; most were decently covered in leopard prints or yeti like fur.
See it didn't work, I haven't once commented on the wigs.
Day 4 and at last, time to look around the exhibition. Here are some highlights:
Tamara Fogle makes bags out of antique textile such as German flour sacks, Hungarian grain sacks, military tents, sailcloth, Welsh blankets and French mattress ticking. The German flour sacks (date range 1830-1940's) are trimmed in chocolate brown Italian leather. The writing which is different on every sack (and so makes each bag unique) states the farmer's name.
This season new colours of oranges and teals give a contemporary twist.
Leju use a special Amazonian seed known as vegetable ivory as a sustainable alternative to elephant ivory. Rich colours are created by staining and dying the seed with natural plant extract and oils. Their new collection brings together intense colours and bold structure threaded together using leather, hemp, wax thread, stainless steel and copper wire. Great to adorn your plain LBDs.
Titled ‘Adagio' this new collection is inspired by ballet training and slow movement is represented by the shape of the shoe or fold of leather. Tones are muted in mint greens, greys and flesh pinks with brighter shades of yellow, lilac and black in small details capturing the dancer's movement. Her wooden wedges are HIGH with an almost rocking chair construction.
La Perla collaborates with Jean Paul Gautier and brings out his signature cone bra cups and corseted waists. Colours are orange red, black and nude.
Atkinson's hats are whacky as ever with this season the story floating between Adam & Eve, Sleeping Beauty and the Green Man. Main colour palette is green (obviously) ranging from apple to moss, creams, gold and pale pinks to fuchsias. Designs are berets in suede or leather, straw mini-fezzes and silk florals creations.
Back on the catwalk shows, this time at Vauxhall Fashion Scouts' Freemason's Hall
This mens and womenswear collection has a circus clown feel to it with long broad braces holding up very low slung baggy trousers and skirts with wide loose waist bands. Main colour palette is crisp white and stone with touches of black and splashes of terracotta. Layering is key and prints of large skull are bold and dramatic.
Day 5 and the sun is shining and I'm back at the big tent in Somerset House.
Inspiration for graphic simplicity and geometric lines is drawn from abstract artist Robyn Denny's clean colour blocked panels and the fresh sporty undertone from post-minimalist sculpture Rachel Whiteread.
Monochrome blazers and waistcoats have displaced lapels in contrasting shade to form sculptural shapes, simple tunic leather dresses and skirts are perforated and hemlines curved. 60's style dresses continue the geometric lines and monochrome look.
Softer lines and colours are brought in through nude and buttermilk suede and loosely woven macramé sweaters and maxi dress.
Vibrant colours also appear in abundance with marine blue, spearmint, emerald, gold, raspberry and navy. And photographic print of large peonies in raspberry and monochrome bring a light feminine touch on silk gazar and organza shift dresses, tunic tops and skirts
The weather was definitely getting in to the swing of LFW as the sun shone through the Portico Room windows for Antipodium's ‘Hothouse ‘collection. This mens and womens wear collection is inspired by the Barbican hothouse and what could happen if revellers succumbed to their natural urges at a refined soiree.
Prints are oversized entwined limbs in greens and greys on shirts and shirt dresses, dense foliage in mulberry and green, plus moths on sky blue blouses and mini flared skirts and dresses.
Skirt length varies from the flirty mini to the elegant 40's mid calf length of the waffle knitted body con dress and stretch denim pencil skirts.
Brown washed linen shorts with a frayed hem look tailored teamed with waffled knit jumper and sky blue moth blouse, and the soft nylon raincoat in chartreuse gives the illusion of wet grass whilst the diaphanous chartreuse dress underneath reflects hot humidity.
Other main colour is dusty pale pink in a skinny leg pant suit and floor length diaphanous dress.
Lots of lace as high waist wide legged pants, maxi skirts and short dresses, but also as panelling in body con short dresses and lace fitted leg warmers. Main colour palette is muted beige with accents of neon violet, mint green and fuchsia pink in chiffon drapes, panelling, animal and tropical flower prints.
Day 6, move over girls, it's now the boys' turn
Titled ‘Never Get to Go Anywhere' this refers to the wanderlust of trips Shannon is yet to take.
The colours of the collection are light with lots of crisp optic white, pale sand and powder colours of lemon, pink and blue. Camouflage prints are pale blues, greys, black and white. Coloured panels are the look for shirts, shorts, trousers whilst nylon anoraks don coloured pockets. Rag tufting and mesh give texture to tops, shorts and hats. Large light grey rucksacks add to the adventurous holiday theme. The overall look is clean and you can't help wonder whether this collection is more suited to a luxury holiday in the Caribbean rather than trekking in Nepal or on a dusty African safari.
Titled ‘the Devoured and I', the collection looks at the intimacy and journey of 2 people as they experiment and get lost in self discovery and subsequently the fall out and consequences of this.
Layering is key with waistcoats, shirts over tees, and knits wrapped round the waist, but the silhouette is slim and not baggy. Colours range from the muted earthy tones to burnt oranges, blues, pinks and black.
Grandmas may have to lock up their doilies as hand crocheted ones make an appearance here giving texture to tee shirts and knits. Admittedly not all are the basic white as some are dip dyed with neon colours to represent hallucinations. Also adding texture and a bit of bling are Swarovski crystals embellishing tops and boots. Patterns galore on rolled up chinos and digital prints of William Gedney the photographer grace the backs of tops.
The show ended this journey with a Pulp soundtrack and a wide laser beam display above the catwalk resembling a dense clouded sky.
And it is also the end of my LFW journey, next stop London Fashion Weekend.
Karen Grace - Personal Shopper & Image Consultant for frumpy to funky.
Call for consultations on 07787 800 390
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