London Fashion Week – Day 2 – Mixed Messages

by Katie on September 18, 2010

Kicking off Day 2 at London Fashion Week was a rare pleasure. Foregoing Daks, we opted for Bernard Chandran, one of Gaga’ ream of favoured designers…but don’t let that put you off. Transatlantic chart star and C.P.F of Kanye West, Mr Hudson, DJ’d the set. Or rather, stood with a laptop and pressed buttons, but anyway it was a fitting star turn to a stellar show.

What this show indicated was a triumph of real design talent over styling when so many other designers concentrate on the talents of the uber stylist to make their collections ‘work’. 1920’s Shanghai mistresses went sci-fi and sizzled with sheer sophistication. It was both modern yet edgy and ultimately commercial and if Vogue weren’t in the audience then they should have been. This is what London does best. Pure polished design talent with a difference that pushes creativity to the extreme which marries complicated ideas with simplicity in execution. Chandran knew instinctively just when to ramp it up and reign it in and hit a bulls eye. This is a collection for the Harvey Nichols, Liberty and Matches of this world.

Silhouettes, inspired by traditional Malay wear, were clean and rectangular. Classical boxed sleeves were given a modern twist with floating pockets, a beautiful contrast to the angled shape. Chandran designed volume into separates for a dramatic yet stylish affect like his black silk voluminous knee-length shorts. Pieces were finished with strong metal beading melded gracefully on to necklines like the corals sheer dress with embellished structured lapels. A particular favourite was the floaty organza layered dress in soft grey tones as well as the vision that finished the show, a long column dress in the softest sorbet peach with marabou feather sheer top.  Sheer class from a class act.

Betty Jackson is a British institution.  This collection rocked out to ‘Buffalo Stance’ by Neneh Cherry, Bronski’s Boy’s ‘Hit that perfect beat boy..’ and at times she did but well, I don’t think the Land Army inspired draw string baggy combats did anything for anyone, I’m afraid  Texture was the key word of the collection with satin treebark jacquards, ragged gauze and high-shine cottons.  Crumpled, washed and worn with speckled and thick cotton knitted with traditional fisherman techniques.  Pattens stayed true to form  with muted floral prints on silks.  Abstract green and pink digitalised foliage, colourful birds of paradise in bright pinks, greens and yellows added depth.

The solid colour pieces worked best.  A beautiful bright green, raw silk A-line dress had gorgeous fluted sleeves that fluttered along the catwalk and looked very ‘Sarah Moon’ in places.  An amazing structured black long line jacket had tie back detailing and flutter feathers on shoulders which added lightness.  Paired with an A line, biscuit coloured skirt, this was ‘Betty’ personified but brought bang up to date.  Ostrich feather tops and detailing to separates added the feminine lightness to this 1940’s Land Army inspired collection.  Thankfully more hits than misses.

Afghan-British designer Osman Yousefzada worked to his architectural strengths and showed a structured cohesive collection with fabric contrasts and strict, sculptured lines.  Woven and soft patent leathers contrasted with lightweight gossame silks layered to create a fine balance of textures and shapes.  Scupted pieces were shown alongside black jersey dresses with flowing flashes of drape in Schiaparelli pink.  Colour was strong as bright yellow and apple (two firm London Fashion Week favourites, it appears) were contrasted with tan, beige and navy.  Osman’s lesson seemed to be structure and yet more structure as a 1950’s style white shift dress seemed to say trad but was made ultra modern with the severity of the structured lines. 

His fabric clashes were direct as a bullet:  A soft one shoulder bright yellow jersey top was shown with a biscuit coloured ’50’s type patent pleat skirt.  Or, a white cotton shift with a patent edge was teamed with black trousers.  Osman as messing with my head again with these clashes but these were serious pieces for serious women hell bent on making a dramatic yet assured impression.  It worked for Sarah Brown, one of Osman’s valued customers.

I’ve never known John Rocha to show a bad collection.  Ever.  And this season, his inspiration was the Grant Tour, bohemian travellers and the unique photography of Deborah Turbeville.  John’s collection flowed from the very beginning and managed to marry ethereal Edwardiansim with ultra modern lines and fabrics.  Smudging the lines between fragile and strong, wild and refined, traditional corsetry and vintage bias cutting sculpted elongated silhouettes offset with structured modern volume and figured tailoring. 

Glorious pieces included the fitted corset bubble dress, raw edged textured tweed which breathed refined Edwardian lving in the 21st Century, a nude silk shift dress with a draped back and the sheer beauty of the crocheted pieces, peeking pale skin through to tempt.  Simply outstanding was the chiffon layered shirt with billowing sleeves and a huge net, tulle skirt in black.  Each model was sent donw the catwalk with pale skin, flowing hair and huge airy Edwardian style wide brim hats.  You could see the Grand Tour influence merge seemlessly with the blurry beauty of Deborah Turbevliile’s photography.  (Read one of my past blogs about Deborah Turbeville’s work here:

Craig Lawrence showed an artsy film and some ulta lean, angular models draped in a spacious white room.  All the better to show his statement foil and knit, drape pieces.  Seductive mermaids were the theme and Craig worked his excellence in knitwear, creating a new dialogue, turning garments inside out to expose beautiful web-like textures and chain mail detailing beneath the surface.  These were statement dresses as art.  Not the type of item you’d splurge on at Selfridges on an end of month paycheck whim, but beautiful art like works for pop stars and collecting connoisseurs. 

London Fashion Week seems to be throwing up mixed messages in terms of trending.  Indian influence is strong at shows as is Victoriana inspired pieces.  There’s also a future forward trend which seems more creative and inspired.  Looking forward not backwards is what we really need.  The inspired choices managed to marry both or leap forward with new concepts.  More oopmh required please.

Photographs in order:-  Bernard Chandran (x2), Betty Jackson (x2), Craig Lawrence

Thank you to all designers and PRs for persevering with the new wave of fashion bloggers and for the LFW invitations. Much appreciated. (K.C)

If you would like to comment on the LFW show reports or say what you like or don’t like, please feel free to leave a comment. Many thanks.
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