I had a thought as I sauntered into the art deco bar of The Connaught hotel mid-week for a 6pm catwalk salon show and it was this…’if only all shows were like this.’ No heaving, no shoving, no spying-the-blogger-badge-and-relegating-to-outer Siberia in seating terms, no hassle, no stress and beauty – lots of beauty. This was a lesson by the PR agency and by a lesser known name designer on how to present a collection.
Russian designer, Olga Vilshenko, set the bar high for others to follow with this discreet show pre London Fashion week and whilst some of the bigger editors were crossing the Atlantic for the start of NYFW. They’d have missed out. The feel, the setting, the show, the Dom Perignon Vintage (2004), Russian Golds and Vodka Gimlets made with Beluga vodka slipped down a treat as the guests took their seats (ALL with a great catwalk view) in the beautiful, deco, Connaught Bar. The show started almost on time and we were in for a treat. This was ladylike, gracious, grown-up elegance that strolled down the catwalk that befitted the location and was obviously designed with the women in mind who frequent such venues.
There was an air of polished assuredness in this collection. For both first ladies or those who do lunch who present a cool exterior. Controlled to the max, Vilshenko’s collection was a masterclass in how to execute simplicity. The only frills appeared on delectable high neck ruffle shirts or silver on navy, spotted silk dresses. The look may have been refined but the attitude was of a calm and collected vamp who’s outgrown childsplay RTW and is ready for her main stride into womanhood.
Referencing menswear styling, the collection had an element of eccentricity; tailored trousers, woven shoulders and cuffs, a-line skirts, collared shirts with leather jackets whilst long, Russian infused evening gowns and ‘60s inspired bell-shape dresses with mesh tulle and velvet silk details offset the masculinity with a feminine touch. Exquisite fine fabrication and the play of sheer silk chiffon on daywear catapulted Vilshenko into collectable. This won’t date. Just age gracefully like the women who will flock to wear this hidden gem of a designer. Fabrics vying for attention included light crepe-de-chine, silk, lame, leather, along with studs, striking embroidery and metallic thread taffeta in warm floral prints, polka dots and powder blues inspired by the Russian fairy-tale Illustrator, Elena Polenova’s work, ‘Girl with a dragon’ (1895).
Vilshenko also used jacquard prints and melange embroidery applied on silk organza, with multicolour thread shades which gave depth to the delicate embroidery. As polished as the shiny Connaught marble floor.
What struck, was this collection’s wearability. This used to be regarded as a bad thing in ye olde eccentric London Fashion Week days of yore but nowadays we lap it up. For once, this wasn’t a collection to only be worn by on-the-verge pop starlets. Its beauty was its appeal to women of taste of every age. I liked. A lot. Now to find that Russian oligarch who can afford to indulge my whims.
Vilshenko spring summer 2014 collection will be available in stores from February 2014.