Paul Smith @  LFW
Paul Smith @ LFW

27 Feb. 2012


London Fashion Week held from February 17-22, ended on a positive note. This was one possibly the most high profile events to date, both in terms of designer line-up and overall quality. The anticipation of the London Olympics has no doubt rubbed off, while an eagerness to impress deep-pocketed buyers from emerging economies such as China and Russia also prevailed. Capitalizing on the buzz London currently exude, McQ and Moschino Cheap and Chic showed in the capital for the first time, while Stella McCartney returned to her native land to provide Anna Wintour et al with the most covetable ticket of the season.

Another cause for celebration, this season marked the 10th anniversary of Topshop’s involvement of the NewGen initiative. Some of the current names that figure under the supportive umbrella are Simone Rocha, JW Anderson, Palmer/Harding and Thomas Tait, while past contenders include Richard Nicoll, Christopher Kane, and Jonathan Saunders. Whether of NewGen pedigree or otherwise, designers opted to present their wares in imaginative ways, distancing themselves from the humdrum catwalk format. Indeed, some presentations had more in common with performing art concepts than classic runway shows, and there was more than a whiff of competition in the air. Towards the end of the Burberry Prorsum show, for instance, the skies virtually opened, covering the models’ umbrellas in digital downpours. Meanwhile, supermodel table-dancing was the order of the day at Stella McCartney, who treated guests to a black tie dinner; while Mulberry, a master of creative presentations, brought in pop sensation Lana Del Rey to wow guest at its post-show soiree. Fittingly, Del Rey has been bestowed with a namesake Mulberry bag- a handheld, feminine affair.

Digital prints have become a definite LFW trademark by now, and admittedly the feature has started to look a bit tired. One designer who still excels in the printing stakes is Mary Katrantzou, who has a knack of creating pieces with an otherworldly feel - a quality that owes to prints that are abstract, yet occasionally display flashes of 3D precision. The f/w 2012-13 collection’s typewriter and bathtub motives serve as fitting examples. Honing her skills across all areas of her discipline, the Greek designer had evidently spent considerable time at the pattern cutting table too, resulting in refined fit and flare outlines and corset-like bodices.

LFW veteran Paul Smith served up his trademark mannish tailoring.
LFW veteran Paul Smith served up his trademark mannish tailoring.

Sculpted silhouettes were sighted within a string of other collections as well- those of Christopher Kane and Antonio Berardi to mention two. A softer outline marked the wares of wunderkind Thomas Tait, who achieved a rounded look with the help of dropped shoulder seams. To finish off cuffs and hemlines, Tait used finely pleated leather, a form of detailing that carried over from last season’s offering. Denim made a guest appearance too and materialized in the shape of 1970s style jean jackets with outsize collars fastened to the last button, teamed with subtly bootcut jeans. Jeanswear featured also within the talented newcomer Marques/Almeida’s collection. The frayed denim looks of last season had evolved to include elements of battered suede and mohair, which gave the range a fittingly wintery feel.

Christopher Raeburn
Christopher Raeburn
Conceived to shield the wearer from plummeting temperatures, Christopher Raeburn’s range of season-appropriate pieces included parkas, coats and bombers featuring signature elements such as taped seams and drawstring details. Brought in to complement the outerwear selection, the considerable number of separates indicated that the designer has taken a determined step into the sphere of ready to wear. Another lauded concept was that of Louise Gray, who sent out a series of dresses- often worn over leggings- in eye-popping prints and embellishments, such as a multitude of earrings. Punky Mohawk-style hairpieces, courtesy of Nazir Mazhar, punctuated the rebellious proposition.

On the more established side of the schedule, LFW veteran Paul Smith served up his trademark mannish tailoring; the boxy, double breasted wool coats and blazers were particularly strong, while the cowl neck tunic tops in checked wool were equally covetable. Ending the week, the perennial menswear showcase presented the work of 13 designers including JW Anderson, James Long, Oliver Spencer and Lou Dalton. Come June, London’s menswear talent won’t be restricted to showing at the tail-end of LFW, as The Big Smoke is set to join Paris and Milan on the international men’s fashion week circuit.
Emma Holmqvist

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