A Blush of Rose
London Fashion Week - Somerset House and around town.
London Fashion Week burst into life by the banks of the Thames at Somerset House. Hot on the heels of a snowed in New York the early spring sunshine welcomed a wide array of designers and collections from world renown experienced names such as Jasper Conran, John Rocha and Alexander MacQueen to young growing talents such as Danielle Romeril, Haizhen Wang and Barbara Casasola.
On the opening day of Fashion Week Nathalie Massenet announced that British Fashion Council research showed that fashion was worth £26bn to the UK economy. This was a rise of 22% since 2009 and jobs supported directly or indirectly by the industry are reckoned at 797,000. Many people rushing round town noted that the Brits and the BAFTAs where also taking place at the same time as fashion week and there was definitely a great feeling of electricity in the air.
Along with key looks from many of the collections I'm very pleased to bring you some fine fragrance products from Penhaligon's. Penhaligon's is a leading sponsor of LFW and brings to you the Lily of the Valley fragrance to enjoy every day as we move through the fashion calendar.
My first show of LFW was Jean-Pierre Braganza. Waiting outside I chatted with a great Pre-Med American fashion writing student Fatima Al-Faisal and talked to her about her journey in fashion before becoming a surgeon. We had some common ground as I also looked to medicine when I was very young. We had a lot to talk about looking at JPB's style and why we like is urban look and the beauty he brings into his clothes.
When the show started I was pretty blown away as I always am by his collections. The invitations gave the hint of the pre-raphaelite influence that would overlay the collection.
Playing with the mystery that JPB works into his muses he also worked around the theme of great Renaissance Queens such as Marie Antoinette, Catherine de Medici and Anne of Austria. Against a star-set background echoing the renaissance interest in astrology the collection opened in Grey and Burgundy with clear cut lines. The look to the far left, the bias cut rain-coat was the first of the collection and to me played on the theme of cosmic chaos wrapped around the goddess form.
Bora drew on a patchwork of influences this season including the patchwork itself. Inspiration came in various channels including that of his mothers experiences during her years at school in Europe. Bora, always true to his Turkish family roots is quick to spot an opportunity for East to meet with West. Here he explores the idea of a teenage girl exploring her wardrobe and as her awareness grows stretching apart accepted forms and customs of style to create her own self in her own image. Some looks are girly and cute, some kick against the boundaries and are rebellious. The palette moved from Black into Grey, Pastel Pinks, Mustards, Blues and then Reds.
Following on there is a very great beauty in the simplicity of the construction of the burgundy dress teamed with black tights and ankle boots it's simple and striking and would make a great date or occasion dress. It's very versatile staple that you'll want to hang onto if you order it. I was very taken with the long cardigan jacket above. I love the combination of using different textures through the garment. There's a slight hint of 1980s baseball jacket meets tailored evening ware which I find super-fun. The last look to the right above shows more of the flexibility of the sky chart design theme.
Jean-Pierre referenced the artist Artemisia Gentileschi and in an interview he said that Artemisia's portrayal of women in her paintings reflects his own admiration of powerful women. I really liked the use of Petrol Blue in the collection. For me it seemed to reflect the night sky. Both of the Blue jacket and trouser suits have a female lounge suit feel. Interestingly both looks go for the high belted waist look to accentuate slim lines and an elongated figure.
In this collection JPB is emphasising sport in many of the looks and these two trouser suits also have strong echos of traditional martial arts clothing. The long open skirts shown both above and below also give a nod to traditional East Asian warrior dress. This is another part of the core energy of the message that JPG has to give his audience in terms of woman's strength. Whether it's Artemisia's Biblical Judith or girls in the urban jungle of London or New York this is a great city slicker wardrobe that has all the hall-mark JPG Rock and Roll edge that we love and come to expect from him. These diverse influences show why his following is so broad and ever growing.
Over-sized tailoring features prominently through the collection and gives a great comfort factor. The Grey coat to the right is an example that rocks the Audrey Hepburn 1950s/1960s look even down to the matching elbow gloves while sitting on top of a 21st century day and evening dress.
I think that there is an interesting duality in the strength of the collection the images and the message are strong while the fabrics and the cut are all about soft shapes and soft focus.
Jean Pierre sells globally from London to Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Europe, Canada and the US. He's a great Anglo-Canadian ambassador for fashion and I find a great site for looking through his collections is farfetch.com From here you can buy his looks anywhere in the world. Another great opening show for me in what became a fantastic week.
I managed to say a quick Hello and congratulate Bora after his show as he was surrounded by admirers in Somerset House. At the show I found myself sitting next to a great lady Katie from the BFC and it was an honour to be able to take the show in with her. We where really treated to an absolute spectacle and between my trusty SLR and the official press pics I've been blessed with a tough decision of which images to share with you. The collection opened with a line up of models wearing the series of looks and we instantly got a flavour of a collection channelling in part the strength and happyness of carefree youth but also mixing in a grown up grunge look.
What really fascinates Bora in the 'Dear Birsen' is the use of texture. He uses it in this collection to express the contrast between Birsen's constrained formal environment and her thoughts and dreams of freedom and aspirations in life. The pinafore makes a brief appearance as a re-worked precursor to the evening dress that she will wear when she's older. There are some great pieces to have fun with in this collection and some of the jackets and skirts are inter-changable with other more straightforward items from outside the collection.
What is really interesting to note is the change in the fabrics from the light and delicate silks and satins in the earlier nad younger part of the collection to the heavier leathers and suede's as the muse matures and becomes more confident. Also as she grows and develops the colours used in the collection become more bold and give strong emphasis to her place in the world. The length of the garments is also used to illustrate how she matures. When the gowns sweep the floor she is a fully fledged adult.
Mark Fast is the reigning King of Knitware in London and quite frankly after seeing this show I can never imagine anything to be different. In the most super-cool way it is truly amazing what he can do with Knitware.
Bora is a great advocate of using fabrics from his native Turkey and putting them to work in designs crafted and shaped in the UK.
As well as selling in the favorite hot spots in London such as Wolf & Badger and Bora also sells across the Middle East and Asia plus he's built a strong following in Italy.
A Central St Martins graduate with 15 years at the heart of British fashion under his belt, Bora is still master of the art of surprise and with many twists and tricks up his sleeve.
Below I've dropped in a shot from the close of the collection in all it's colour.
Electric Purple or vibrant Blue as some are calling it was the order of the day to open the collection in a blaze of light.
Mark was very inspired by his recent trip to Mumbai and the Neon illuminated city scape at night. The energy comes across in the designs but what is also apparent is the way that he is using a lot of different textures within a look.
One of my favourite looks was the second here on the left comprising of trousers, jumper and overlaying cardigan. It's a great outfit and shows how the different textures and different wools used can combine together in one outfit to great effect.
Another important aspect of the collection is the elasticity that Mark Fast weaves into the wools. This gives whole new possibilities for structure and shape of garments and this is the route behind his quest for innovation.
Playing with new shapes and structures each season seems to re-invigorate each collection that comes out. Here he's used
a combination of Merino and Chenille and worked it onto many guises. The figure hugging dress is still a key part of the collection there where a lot of new looks here that showed the first steps in a new direction for Mark perhaps.
There were many new pieces such as the floor sweeping broad scalfs and out-sized wrap-up coats with huge sleeves.
The casual draw string slack-pants look like a great hot for autumn. The fine wools mean they will be very cosy and keep you warmly wrapped wherever you are.
With a hint of a new look at grown-up glamour the Black dress to the left with shimmering applique embroidery across the shoulders is really stunning.
As it came out on the catwalk there was a wave of acknowledgment in the audience that this was something different.
I'll leave you with two of the most striking looks that summed up the look of Autumn-Winter comfort in dusty orange.
I've added in a picture of the Penhaligon's Lilly of the Valley Candle here. It's really lovely and great to have about the House or in your working space.
This season saw the launch of the Aurora collection for Christopher's women's line in Autumn-Winter 2014. Taking the Arctic and the frozen waste lands as it's heart of inspiration the collection works the angle of conquering the frozen wastes. This seasons animal accessory bag is the Polar Bear, I'm sure it's going to be a popular addition to the animal bags series.
Christopher drew his inspiration from the polar explorers and also the Icelandic photographer Ragnar Axelsson's exhibition, "Last Days of The Arctic". The use of paneled synthetic fur in the garments in this collection looks closely to the fur outfits worn by the original arctic explorers and hunters in traditional arctic communities. I picked out several looks above that had fur worked into them. It's a warm snug edition to the collection and the synthetic fur fabrics are also light weight and pretty practical. The two cream coloured jackets have a wrap over composition and are secured by buttons down the left hand side in a faint echo of military jacket fastenings. Using the theme of contouring to show a different colour most of the looks are composed of two or three different colours.
Still keeping the happy balance between the military heritage of his brand and urban casual I thought that the black jacket in the second look from the left above was vintage Christopher Raeburn. A cool look for facing the winter weather and what ever it may have in store for you. The fur hood is also a great windshield.
New to the collection this season is knitwear. Chris has enjoyed a great partnership with The Woolmark Company over a number of seasons and has used woolen fabrics in many of his looks. New for this season is are the Merino Wool sweaters that feature Aurora the polar bear. These sit alongside other garments that are made with wool hybrid fabrics that crafted in unison with Woolmark as part of a visionary collaboration. True to the first arctic explorers of the 19th and early 20th centuries woolens in a more modified advanced from are utilised as a true piece of travelers kit.
The Palette of colour chimes with the rugged arctic landscapes, earth tones of green, rock-grey and ice white blend in with a fiery orange which to me calls to mind the volcanic fires of Iceland as well as the bright lights of the Aurora Borealis. There are several elements of this collection that I think are key features. The bomber jacket and the trench coat fitted closely to the figure are core parts of the collection plus the long knitted dresses that hug close to the body. I also really liked the seasonal blue and white print that Chris developed in tandem with AMEX. It's shown above left and was worn in cape form around Somerset House by LFW guides. It's a very beautiful sky-blue with powdery white cloud-like images imprinted on echoing his Spring-Summer 2014 prints.
Emilia Wickstead dresses Princesses, of the royal kind, of the Hollywood kind and has countless more women of taste and savvy passing through her Salon in Belgravia. She has high end clientele and her collections have a fresh bite of pizzaz about them. She didn't disappoint this season with a fresh twist of drama in her looks that blended high glamour and style with a bit of dark mystery.
Jasper is one of our best renown designers internationally and it's amazing to think he's been a firm fixture on the fashion show schedule for over 2 decades. The collections that he produces are sophisticated women's wear that will simply slip into your wardrobe. Jasper is definitely a quiet man of the fashion scene. Jasper isn't usually very high profile during fashion week but I've seen him around a few times across fashion seasons and found him very perceptive and quick to recognise special qualities in people.
He's dressing the international business woman or simply busy woman. Someone with a natural balanced good taste who needs no fuss, high glamour pieces in her wardrobe that can be suited to a variety of occasions and move between perhaps a business meeting and drinks reception.
There is great beauty in this collection and the clothes are designed to flatter the figure and show the lines and contours of a woman's body perfectly. Jasper is a master tailor of women's fine style. The first look to the left above is a beautiful coat with a high sash tied waist. The high waist tied belt is theme cropping up in several collection for Autumn-Winter 2014 and looks to be an emerging trend. Underneath is a very beautiful silk chemise and a sheer black skirt that forms a sultry and sophisticated look. I also love the large black fold over clutches that many of the models accessorised their outfits with in this collection. Very flexible and would work well with most of the looks from the collection and other pieces you may already own.
What I love in this collection is the blurring of underwear and outerwear. Slinking down the catwalk this was a very sexy collection while at the same time keeping the feeling of discreet demure elegance. Necklines where kept simple through the collection providing subtle clear lines of focus rather than a garish emphasis of curves.
I've picked out a number of looks that could frankly slip into my wardrobe pretty easily. There is a lot to like in each of the looks above and I can see myself wearing any of the looks from the collection. The pencil skirts match so perfectly well with the gently tailored coats you can see that there is great interchangeability within the collection itself. You can pick up as few or as many looks from this line as you want and inter mix them.
Looking closer detail there is a little play on geometric shapes within some parts of the collection. There are subtle angular features in the blouse area of some of the dresses and this forms a gentle juxtaposition to the soft curves of the feminine figure. All very well harmonised.
Moving ahead to the looks in the collection that focus more in evening wear the Blush Pink returns with strength in a myriad of different forms. It was impossible to edit down the looks and chose what to show from this later phase of the show so I've added five pieces that could be worn to cocktails and will stand your wardrobe in very good stead. Jasper creates high fashion that will earn it's place in your wardrobe for many years. You will come to see the treats you purchase from him as essentials. He's one of our greatest designers and will always do his best to serve you well. I'm left wondering which of the looks I will take this autumn.
I really love the black and blue Rose symbol that Emilia works into a number of designs at the early phase of the collection. It sits at a right angle to my emblem of the pink rose. The first look to the left is a very creative take on the staple Black winter jacket. With it's broad sweeping Blue lapels crossing the chest the black rose gives a dark almost-but not quite gothic hint to the mystery lying within. Sitting over a black dress and paired with dark glasses nothing is given away.
The second look to the left is bold statement of female power. The Black leather cut away skirt sits under the cinched waist-ed jacket. Full length Black leather gloves and metallic shoes complete the look that gives off an aura of absolute power. With simple no fuss hair and make-up on many of her models Emilia is drawing the beauty of her girls empowered by their clothes into sharp focus.
The floor length Magenta gown is inserted as a break almost in a bold shot of colour. Perfectly cut, this look is a scene stealer while placing emphasis on colour and cut. The two looks to the right are very intricate plays on the theme of the rose. The embroidery in both these dresses is stunning. I really liked the use of a long train to add a graceful elegance to the look. The long black sleeves that give the impression of an underlying garment also creates a great colour contrast. There's a tiny hint of Gothic also and I think that's what Emilia is saying to us with this collection. The train hints at a slight throw back to the late Victorian and early Edwardian era's. The final dress to the right in this series is cut in a traditional 1950s type shape.
Again generous embroidery detail features here and this dress is an example of the high Ready to Wear (my own invented saying here) produced in London by many designers that rivals the intricacy and craftsmanship of Haute Couture.
Snake skin plays an important role in this seasons collection as Emilia dresses her lady up. I really loved mixture of the pink embroidered jacket sitting over the snake skinned skirt and vest top. It's a great combination. Center above is a full skirted mid calf length dress in snake skin that isn't over powering. Club lapels feature again in one of the white trouser suit looks and make a great definition. The white jump suit to the left makes a strong contrast in options for a suited look.
The fur wrap gives it an extra glamorous edge. Closing this look at the collection I picked the grey printed dress that stood out alone in the collection and lastly the beautiful white evening dress with brown textured coat. This last piece is a very glamorous look for evening ware. There are many, many women who would look good in this and it's a fantastic date or occasion outfit.
John was one of the first designers I ever saw at London Fashion Week and I have a lot of respect for him as a pillar of our fashion community. While his daughter Simone launches her own extraordinary career John is still working hard himself innovating and pushing the boundaries of textile design and production.
The blue dresses in the third and fourth looks moving right overhead are very beautiful. There's an element of dark glamour with the long black gloves suggesting firm control and with the first baby blue dress. The second has a slightly lighter air about it and with the higher neckline at the collar is a little more formal and a little less daring. I think the latticed rose dress (as I call it) could also work very well at knee length. Both of these dresses would be superb occasion dresses for cocktail or other day and evening special events.
Moving to a different area of Emilia's colour palette working with blush pink and black with a bit of Magenta thrown in produces some wonderful surprises. The black gown in the first look below to the left is teamed up with a cowled cap to give and almost cat-woman like effect. Sleek and composed this lady will hold attention in any room that she enters.
Next to it is one of my very favourite looks from the collection. A simple high necked sweater with a beautifully embroidered ankle length skirt sitting below it. Featuring beautiful diamond applique detail this is a strong look. Contrasting both colour and texture perfectly and teamed up with a beautiful long black leather jacket.
John's collection opened with a re-workings of some familiar themes from his past collections that he does so well such as the highly intricate crochet work overlaid and accented with ruffles. This season many of the crochet looks also had panels worked into the design. Above I've placed in four key looks that not only reflect John's colour scheme but also show his dedication to his trademark vision of Irish girlish chic.
The doll like creations in this collection work several different key influences. He's using layers of high glamour with yard after yard of ruched satins and silks to create the most striking catwalk effect. These are looks for dinners and parties and will stand you in good stead as investment pieces. The collection as a whole featured boucle tweed in many places such as in the crafting of boots and a diverse range of quality fabrics. The more I look at this collection the more I feel that there is a hint of Dublin and London meets Paris. Using the best of Irish textiles and craftsmanship I can see a nod to pan-European elegance and stylistic traditions.
The ladies suit to the far right is a perfect demonstration of high craftsmanship in tweed. With some traditional references it's a very modern approach to the ladies tweed suit and has the ingredients of both style and warmth that we like to enjoy and see in contemporary design.
The evening dresses with beautiful applique are works of art and we serve you well for any special event. The intricacy of the work is well worth taking note of. The construction of the dresses is light and will feel comfortable through a long evening.
Below are three more looks from the collection that I really enjoyed and could pick out myself. The black dress with flowers embroidered onto the surface is a great evening dress that could be further accessorised with some superb jewellery and a little purse. The coat dress in the center is woven beautifully in lace dentelle with a ruched rosette at the waist as it ties together. This jacket has the wonderful wrap over pajama jacket style that hints a little at versatile androgyny. It's a beautiful collection with John trying more new things.
Headonsim and Rock Vault Parties at London Fashion Week.
As Day two progressed I took some time out to catch up with fashion friends before heading to the Rock Vault and Headonism parties before Julian Mac Donald's show on Saturday night.
The Headonism party was rammed and I could barely balance my Champagne glass and SLR while mingling and saying hello to everyone. First on my list of Hello's was Stephen Jones. I've met him briefly in the past a couple of times and it was really lovely to be able to get a proper picture of him this time while he was talking to friends. Stephen and William Chambers are two of the milliners who have worked very hard to push forward the Headonism initiative at London Fashion Week.
Stephen and William between them have a huge commitment to growing and developing the platform for young milliners to showcase their designs on. Both of these gentleman themselves also show a large collection of their works at London Fashion week each Season. I have many, many pictures but have condensed this down to Stephen's hats shown above and William's hats shown below. Also below I couldn't resist adding some of Stephen's famous Honeycomb shaped baby pink boxes. As you can see both designers create a broad range of hats. There is a great choice from special pieces for weddings to hats to accessorise everyday outfits all year round. Below right one of William Chambers' designs is modelled by a young associate.
Just next door the Rock Vault party was also in full swing. I was introduced to the work of Imogen Belfield by a great guy called Tim O'Callaghan and I can honestly say I've very grateful. I hope to profile Imogen's work in more detail in the summer but for now would urge you to check out her jewellery at this spot www.imogenbelfield.com. Imogen works with Gold in a very creative an innovative way.
Below are some more looks pieces from the assembly of gathered Jewellers showcased at London Fashion Week in the exhibition area. The British Fashion Council is dedicated to promoting British jewellery designers and showcases their work abroad in Las Vegas in an annual showcase alongside the high profile
exhibitions alongside the catwalk collections each season.
I have to say I was very intrigued by a lot of the work that I saw and left
with a very warm heart feeling that our young designers are achieving a lot
in fashion and luxury goods.
From several different perspectives this is one of the very big shows at London Fashion Week each season and it was for me the first time I saw one of Julien's shows live. I was blown away before the show even started. True to the style of Julien the before show party was pretty kicking with streams of cocktails and snacks and a lot of interesting characters pouring into the pre-show area. I stood shoulder to shoulder with Caprice Bourett and it was probably the first time I'd come across her since being a very bouncy late-teen in and around Chelsea about a million years ago. I smiled Hello very briefly, I had a cocktail to chase.
The show started in a blaze of colour with some very great music and it was clear from the outset that this collection had a focus on Red-Carpet flashlight, high impact glamour. I didn't get to my seat in the crush and found myself stationed next to the Photographers main pen and just behind the first row. Not a bad angle, you can certainly get worse and I think I managed to get some of the light effect from the Pap-corp.
The intricacy of the work on the dresses in this collection would make an Haute Couture Atelier feel very confident. It's very masterful stuff and a feast for the eyes. We benefited from a very long open catwalk in front of us and I needed every second of time as my eyes where eating up the detail that walked in front of us.
As you can see from these looks Julien has crafted these pieces to really hug and mold perfectly around the woman's body. The collection in it's entirety was an absolute joy to behold.
Working around a high glamour theme the looks kept coming and coming. Lots of shine and shimmer and with a touch of snake skin thrown in for good measure. These are the outfits to accompany a dazzling set of events. To say that these outfits are designed for the jet-set would be to miss the point slightly. Yes, they are spectacular and high glamour but once you've become a fan of Julien's work you will inevitably find one or two occasions in your calendar each year at least to wear one of them.
Julien himself clearly enjoys every minute of his work and received the very warm applause later after the show with much grace. I have pics of him below bowing. What struck me in this collection was the amount of lightness and grace he combined with the overtly sexy. As the looks passed by on the models it was apparent how light and airy the pieces where. Many sheer creations where completed by trailing skirts and the light musical, only barely detectable sound of beads and diamonte applique jewels.
Day 3 & Day 4
Antonio Berardi opened super-Monday bright and early as always with a killer show packed with high energy tailoring. The colour palette opened in muted city scape shades of charcoal, greys and blacks. A few people who saw the collection commented on Antonio's return to a formal structure in his work but I disagree and can see a lot of room for manouvre in his work and the direction that he's taken.
The first three looks to the left show some seriously well cut winter jackets. With a fitted cut they button just above the hips at the waist. The first jacket re-works the Hounds-tooth look and could be a city or country look.
The two longer jackets, center left, are winter staples that look city slick and warm. The grey short cut jacket and with dress underneath and flare-up pockets is a slightly more bohemian take on the look. There more movement here in the outfit.
A slight feel of BDSM theme in the knee length and ankle boots comes into play and continues through the collection. Antonio's woman is in control on the catwalk and in her working and day to day life. Keeping true to his themes the collection offers a diverse feel and I feel he does what I love to see in collections of successful designers, he produces outfits that could be worn by several generations of women in the same family in the same collection.
Antonio is a designer who likes to have the duality of well tailored clothes that fit well but don't restrict the wearer. As the colour palette moves from grey into vibrant majestic purple and emerald green, the cut and clarity of the pieces that are assembled are like gem stones and it's easy to tell as the models move in their clothes that the pieces are comfortable. It's a majestic look for the 21st century girl.
The hair and make-up channel a slightly care free rock chick look with tousseled locks and smokey eyes. As the collection moves gently into evening wear more embroidery work comes into the designs featuring crystal and sequins to give extra sparkle. Antonio also used quilting to add extra texture and effect and there is a distant echo of 16th and 17th century men's jackets, from the early Baroque Era in this style. Still, all the while, he's keeping with the modern 21st century slick feeling of sexiness that his collections have. Antonio's girl moves slides easily round the world, from one city to the next, from one party to the next.
The theme of the collections make up and hair was muted and natural. Washed out tones on the lips and barely-there blusher gave a fresh faced look of a muse continuing on from the night before or casually looking for an understated look. Let the clothes and your words do the talking is more the message this season.
The three looks below I picked out as they could be worn as evening wear to slightly more formal or Red Carpet events. Antonio dresses many happy women around the world and some of them have public profiles that need a touch of formality in the wardrobe. Two of these outfits work with the peplum theme also seen in this collection and take it further with gathered loose pleated material creating skirts with maximum volume and movement. Falling naturally from a sculpted, fitted waist the gentle, light ripples of the skirt move around the girls body coming from the taught, rigid bodices of the dress in sharp contrast. They are beautiful pieces and the last dress in complimentary/contrasting purple and blush pink is one of my very favourite looks from the collection. The movement in the fabric around the shoulders sets of the silhouette as the girl walks and is an inspired piece of tailoring that gives and extra twist of life to the collection.
Marios Schwab has a very recognisable style, in a broad sweep of genres he never fails to impress me with his particular look. I would describe it as an edgy 21st century look at the bohemian and it works. It all works beautifully. This collection s a very graceful sonnet on the theme of night-time cinematic elegance and chic London precision cool. The first look I picked out below really typifies the neat-chic dress style that we have come to know and love from Marios. The candle lined catwalk set the tone for high glamour with just a tiny hint of the gothic.
The second dress to the left is in one of my favourite colours, midnight blue and trails the floor beautifully. I love the way it hangs lightly on the figure and is gathered slightly a-symmetrically around the model.
The shimmering skirted under-dress gives a mysterious contrast to the outer layer of the garment. This red-carpet look has shades of the sea and for me a slight middle-eastern inspired feel about it. Absolutely beautiful and a piece that will live in your collection as truly timeless.
Most of us like a black leather skirt and have or have had one in our wardrobes at some point in time. I think they are one of the fun staples like blue jeans and black dresses that have been cherished through many decades and will continue to be popular for quite some time.
These two fun looks to the left work the traditional black leather skirt and Marios' chic view on sexy modern fashion wear. I love the use of the cut-away lace shoulder in the first look to the right and the dusty sand-pink roll neck top is pure grabable autumn fashion at it's best.
I really liked the use of the black velvet chokers in some of the looks below. The choker, invented for Queen Alexandra of Britain to hide a childhood scar on her neck, has gone through many incarnations in diamonds and jewel, to pearls and also in material form. The first dress that I picked out below has a hint of the boudoir about it and fitted closely like a basque with traditional wide straps is plays with the lace theme at the decolette. This is a pretty versatile piece that you could wear with or without a jacket and you could use it to formal and not so formal events depending on how you coordinate other pieces with it.
Moving more into an evening look, the pieces become lighter with more sheer fabric and more intricate lace work. The first look below to the left is stunning and I think it will be a dress that is seen in front of the camera in the Autumn. It's high glamour and very beautiful and quite striking. In contrast next to it the deep pocketed black suit - dress echos the style of the traditional men's dinner jacket. I personally think most men look great in Black tie and it's always great to see at an event. Here I see the contrast between the feminine and the masculine side by side, both looking strong and beautiful. Contrasting with the feminine a-symmetry the jacket suit influence by Yves Saint Laurent's 'le smoking's perfectly symmetrical, even down to the line made by the perfectly placed pendant. Beneath the model shows with confidence the beautiful layer of lace sitting close to her body that envelops her form.
Lace comes to the fore again the next floor length dress. Again this is another piece that could be used for the red carpet that will delight many of Mario's clients. I think it's great and it was one of the pieces that turned the most heads as the collection came out. Playing with the mid-length theme the next two looks are pretty flexible for cocktail and occasion wear. Sitting lightly on the body both of these pieces work with lighter shades of traditional autumn colours - an apricot and mint in an echo of amber and rich green to bring some seasonal colouring into the collection. They are both very beautiful and the detail of the lace work is superb. Sitting close to the body and also full of movement they could make an appearance in your wardrobe at any time of year and like all the above looks I've picked out they are real investment pieces to treasure and look after.
Roksanda's collections really do blast colour into the day each February and September for London Fashion Week and this season was no exception. Bright bold splashes of colour electrified the catwalk and had everyone sitting up very straight. Bright blue with the luminescence of cobalt and lapis lazuli electrified the catwalk and inspired delight in the audience. Everyone was appreciative of the strong Croatian emphasis in this collection. Roksanda very beautifully brought some of her native homeland through to the London catwalk. One unifying theme of the collection was the golden waist band sitting above the hips in each look. Adding a form and structure to the outfits and draw a thread across the collection.
Roksanda used strong natural toned colours in bold patterning to create a unique carpet of colour across the collection. The look immediately to the left shows the bold mosaic patterning that became a feature of the collection. Roksanda had great fun playing with shapes in this collection and it's been very talked about since the show.
In a side note the beauty and hair themes in style where looking at early rock and roll simplicity. Broad hair bands swept up locks and kept them under control. Makeup was a little smokey eyed but otherwise light and simple. These girls looked very fresh faced, quite simple and natural.
The two looks above are pretty sensational one of my favourites from the whole collection was the look above left. The berry-plum coloured skirt in a half-peplum cut is a classic piece of tailoring re-invention and the peach bodice with lilac trim at the collar bone syncs perfectly. The sweeping deep blue coat will keep you stylishly wrapped through into next spring. It sits beautifully with this outfit but will also blend well with a number of other looks and pieces.
ERDEM is a British - Canadian designer who really does do 'Beauty Grace & Style', my fashion motto, in absolute spades. His latest collection is, as always mature, sophisticated, intriguing and executed to perfection. Although still young he does seem to have a hand of mastery about the works that he produces and that has me transfixed each season.
It's just under a decade since he founded his own epinonimous label and since then it has built into a commercially strong brand now selling in over 50 countries worldwide.
This was a beautiful high-glamour collection focusing mostly on evening and occasion wear. This will suit the needs of many of ERDEM's clientelle with both high and low profiles who find his level of artistry and technique produce the precise high fashion needs that they have. And for everyone else it's an artistic masterpiece. ERDEM is in his mid 30's but has already built a heavy weight international following through the tremendous respect he has earned from within the fashion world.
The first look above in black embroidered brocade opened the collection and was a strong testament to the designers ability to style high end women's wear that meets the needs of his clients but also allows plenty of scope for him to explore a breadth of creativity. This was a tribute to the creative genius of Velasquez worked into black velvet, that fabric that will have appeared in many of our autumn-winter wardrobes in the past and a favourite of designers who dressed royalty over many centuries. ERDEM quietly works the regal theme with a modern twist. The cutting is done with laser to give light precise patterns.
The next look to the right uses the jaquard - lattice cut style that again reflects the tailoring of earlier centuries and I'm reminded of many styles of the mid-late 16th century. The rosette features on the next black velvet dress pop up elsewhere in the collection and this look is picture-perfect Autumn and Winter glamour.
The a-symmetric off the shoulder black and white dress is another of my favourites from the collection along with the black velvet sculpted dress to the furthest right. The sculpting of the bodice around the figure in an arched sympathy with the models natural curves is simply beautiful. It's another show-stopping piece from the collection.
I really like the way that ERDEM has played with several key themes in a number of different outfits. It breathes a greater life into the designs. Looking at the second outfit to the left ERDEM has worked on the black velvet idea to create a caped dress channeling the historical aesthetic.
The first dress to the left has a wonderful wrapped style with mesmerising embroidery and applique details. It's a perfect winter wrap-up piece.
Shimmer and sparkle twinkle into the collection with the two looks above right. ERDEM referenced the botanical works of William Kilburn to draw his floral inspiration for the collection not only in the rosettes that patterned the clothes but also in many of the pieces through the later collection. Before I saw the show summary press sheets I was reminded of the highly decorative wall paper of De Gournay and antique French silk screens that I've seen in the past that where embroidered in fine detail.
These beautifully coloured outfits to the right have an almost 18th century feel. I'm thinking of the textiles and fabrics used in clothes in the French Royal court when I look at these pieces as well as the later influence of Chinoise in the 19th century. The sash bow-ties in the second outfit to the right remind me of traditional Chinese clothing. In some periods outfits where tied in a similar fashion at the sides of the garment.
The Imperial yellow-gold of the coat-dress shimmers with a resplendent light and the simple fold worked into the front of the dress echos traditional Chinese court style in a pared down modern form. Further to the right another outfit uses yellow gold in another hue and contrasts it boldly with Azure blue embroidery detail. This is another powerful echo of Imperial China brought to the 21st century catwalk in London.
Burberry always looks back to it's great heritage as a British brand and finds a new angle to promote our textiles, our craftsmanship and even arm-fulls of our best British models of the moment. So, what better place to start this season than drawing inspiration from the world of the Bloomsbury Arts and Crafts Movement of the early 20th century. As an aside, the Bloomsbury area itself still plays a real role in the promotion of up and coming designers at London Fashion Week each season, with many of the off-schedule shows being based there. But back to Burberry. Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell where two of touch points from among the writers who
spent time at Charleston on the South Downs formulating what would become known as the Arts and Crafts style.
To the right you can see Christopher and some of his models wearing the beautiful woven rugs from his collection. It's a great illustration of the patch-work theme that is so traditionally British and so reminiscent of the arts and crafts group. Looking very warm an snug ahead of Winter these are some great wraps to have in the wardrobe.
Through the collection they where teamed with many of the bright patterned looks that came out but they could also be worn with dark jeans and sweaters through the winter months as an alternative to a jacket or light coat. I like tartan Scottish shawls and I think this is an exciting variation on the style.
Overall the look of the collection is casual and comfortable and not self-conscious. It's a free spirit
collection that encourages you to explore new ideas just as the Bloomsbury set themselves did. Hand painting and craft work are key and I felt through these designs and direction of the collection Christopher was also in a way encouraging the audience to channel the inner designer inside them. We all express ourselves through our clothes and our image is partly made by this in the eyes of the world. I saw in this illustration of Arts and Crafts and how it could be translated into wearing apparel a challenge to the audience perhaps re-invent themselves. What better way than to sample the collection and think about the creative additions that you could make to your own wardrobe in the coming season.
Sheepskin played a great role in the collection with this alternative to the well loved trench coat making an appearance in many forms Cut long or in the cropped shorter bomber-jacket style it worked well with a number of very light and almost floating pieces in the collection. You can easily wear light fabrics through the winter seasons if you have the right wrapping over layers for when you are out of doors. I think it's a fabric and texture combination that works very well and once again it's a great plug for the great British Wool industry.
A great new twist in this collection was the use of hand-painting on the sheepskin coats and the fabrics. There is a lot to see in this collection and you can spend quite a bit of time looking at individual pieces and studying the light touch style of the brushwork - inspired patterns and the delicate designs. What I love about the style of the art is that although the Arts and Crafts 'look' can seem simplified it's a very carefully formed type of beauty. There's a real sense of tranquility in the designs. The colour scheme is light and on the whole from the water colour palette.
There's a free style approach to line and form in this collection too. Forms are lose on the figure and only sometimes tied gently at the waist. It's a bohemian look not constrained by strict notions of style and order. There are no sharp cuts in sight and long and loose seems to be the motto - even down to the models care-free tumbling locks. These are clothes to enjoy and have adventures in and would be just as at home in the country as casually making their way around town. I think it's a collection that will capture the mood of numbers of the House's clientele around the world who feel that Bohemian call. I'm drawn again and again back to the detail of many of the pieces as like looking at art works you do find more and more details in the collection to look at.
As always Burberry put on a stella show in Kensington and as a House they have developed a reputation for using their shows to profile young British musicians. Paloma Faith rocked the catwalk this season after Ed Harcourt and Rhodes got the party started.
I think where Christopher really let his imagination run wild was in the design of the accessories, in particular the attention he paid to the multitude of designs and ideas that appeared in the bags. Burberry's girl this season has a very broad range of design themes to chose if she's looking for a tote on her arm. I really liked the multi-textile designs which came out in great number also working the patch-work home-spun look and the contrasting hand-painted series of bags with their happy-go-lucky hand painted designs. Flowers and nature where the key themes again as Burberry heads very much back down to earth for Autumn and Winter this season. My two favourite looks from the collection are center immediately above. In mint and black and pink and black the simple contrasts will suit most girls and partnered with the funky lace-up ankle boots with open toes that run through the collection they team a perfect wrap with a simple and stylish dress.
David's inspirations for this season also included the work of German artist Lucas Cranach the Elder, the high renaissance German painter provided the collection with a gentler theme to work around the strong military lines. Evidence of this influence was found in the soft composure of the girls faces and make-up scheme.
All the great staples from David where there, the high leg skater skirts with volume and folds. The use of circular patterns through much of the collection is another feature of David's work that make is so uniquely recognisable. Used in the skirts to give a layering detail and in the bodice of the corset they give a common structural theme to the collection.
The colour scheming at work in the collection is simple with five bold colours comprising the collection, black, deep navy blue, white, grey and purple. Simple strong colour blocking for autumn-winter 2014 and where colours are mixed, not more than two of the above go together. In several of the looks above the complementing strong colours serve to highlight the definition of the structure of the garments. The woven cross-body structuring of the dress is a unique feature of David's collections and also plays on the traditional theme of the corset in dress over the centuries. Whether just covering the upper part of the dress or continuing down over the figure it gives the faint hint of BDSM themes and emphasises the military theme of control, structure and order into the future age.
The collection as a whole is punchy collection of day into evening wear looks that would work well for different occasions. These are clothes to make a statement in. You can wear these looks for dates, parties and in front of the camera if you should find yourself there. You have to pick you moment as these are definitely high impact pieces that won't go unnoticed and for many people that will work just fine.
I really liked the footwear accompanying this collection too. The knee-high boots with the open toes are one of my favourite lines of shoes from London Fashion Week across all the collections. Simple and sharp they make a bold statement and look great with these pieces as well as having a lot of potential to mix and match with other looks or items in your wardrobe. The open toe ankle shoes also have great appeal and form a key part of thee looks.
Another pretty stylish aspect of this collection that I liked was the lattice cut patterning that you can see in several of the looks in black above. It's edgy an different and puts David's stamp firmly on his work.
Michael's collection is an ode to mysterious shapes and lively colours approaching the cycadelic. There's a real touch of 1960's bohemian chic meets, homespun, meets high international catwalk glamour here. It's an inspired combination of moods that have gelled well together and created a number of very memorable designs in a collection that very much dances to it's own beat.
The first look to the left below opened the show in a blaze of colour. The daring bold - almost clashing, perhaps you could call it off-set colours gave a taste of the experimental art of the 1960's and these deep rich autumn colours are sure to set autumn ablaze. The young Julie Christie was Michael's muse for the collection and you can feel a light bounce of energy running through the pieces. Julie's own early life began in India and it may be just my fancy idea but I see something of the bold colours of Indian textiles in many of these pieces especially in the bright oranges, reds, yellows and pinks.
There's a real fun spirit of adventure in this collection that, channeling Julie's youthful vivre will appeal to clients across the age spectrum. There where a number of really great dresses in this show and the orange and red dress to the left was a stand-out piece. With the saffron coloured tights it cut a bold line on the catwalk.
The two blue shift dresses next to it where among my favourites of the whole collection. Midnight blue - as regular readers will know - is one of my favourite colours and it's a theme I love to see played around with. The dress and matching jacket further to the left, cut from the same fabric, wonderfully captures the light with the shimmer of silk. The flower patterning in silver detail creates s simple and stunning colour contrast. And let's not forget the yellow platformed slipper-shoes that go with it. A quirky colour contrast as with all of the collection, it's a great look.
Next to it the shift dress in midnight blue overlaid with silk organza encompasses very masterful applique work in the stitching of the flowers on the dress. Slightly veiled under a layer of mystery the shift slightly conceals the craftsmanship of the dress below and invites the eye of the watcher to look more closely at the dress. The shimmer of the sequins is slightly restrained by the overlay of the fabric and gives the dress a gentle mature composition.
The same structure is used again in the next outfit, a gentle light shift sitting over a black dress with green embroidery detail. Again it's a delicate pattern that meets the eye and a light and floating structure. The next look to the right also plays with one of my favourite designs from the collection. Cut close to the figure in a simple structure it's a very wearable dress and I think it will be a very popular look from the collection.
The dress furthest to the right is another one of my favourite looks from the collection. Again another classic look to me there are echos of the girlish style of the 1920's with the dropped waist and lace-shift overlay detail that is slightly reminiscent of the earlier Edwardian era. I have seen this before in looks from the 1960's, a playful echo of a highly constrained style a couple of generations back being re-worked into a more modern form. It's very pretty.
The next three looks to the left continue the colour themes of the collection. Bright orange and terracotta red concealed with the wrapping of a black lace detailed coat. This look is very beautiful and like many of the pieces in this collection is a great way to add bring colour into the evening if you're heading out to a party in the autumn and winter nights.
The second look featuring the sweater and skirt combination works in several different patterns that have come out of the collection. The bold print sweater would also work well combined with other separates and the thigh-split skirt offers a bright twist to the staple of a girls autumn wardrobe.
Nest, closest left is another shift dress with a beautiful sheer lace over-lay resting on-top of a patterned dress. It's very pretty and would work well with or without a jacket or stole in the autumn. A great dress for parties or dinners and could also be worn around the city if you so chose to do so.
I think the accompanying shoes are quite fun with the turquoise strap across the toes and raised platform. Again it's a quirky colour contrast that captures the eye.
Simone's profile has steadily been building through the last few years and with strong support and backing from her family she is achieving considerable note and success and is poised to do a lot more.
As you can see from some of my pictures of the front row all the hard work from Simone and her family is garnering attention in all the right places and the front row included Anna Wintour, Hamish Bowles, Suzy Menkes and Hilary Alexander to name literally but a few of the people I met. The future's looking bright and I'm very keen to see where she will go next on her journey.
Zoe Jordan is a very hardworking young lady and in the last few years she has very successfully begun to grow her brand in the UK and internationally.
After delivering a new member of the Jordan clan last year she was straight back to work and this season she gave a nice surprise of theming her collection - in part - around 'Team Jordan'. Many of us knew of her Dads's background in Motorsport and Zoe used the family business here to draw some great ideas for her modern urban girl and what she could be wearing this autumn.
Zoe held a presentation this season that was more like a fashion week party. Most guests, whether photographers, journalists or friends where chatting away and really enjoying themselves and getting a good up close look at the clothes.
Coming next midnight blue makes a re-appearance in several forms with three different dresses. I like the first to the left showing an illustration of what I think is a representation of creativity and expression. The next look in an ice-blue-white tone again uses the cut-away shoulder motif and again has hints of the old-style Hollywood glamour in the trailing shawl that sweeps the floor and finished off with a delicate array of feathers. The next two beautiful blue dresses along with the black could easily fit into my wardrobe. They both have great cuts and lengths and are really unique pieces. I love the simple use of layering in the structuring of the dresses and both would look amazing worn as on the catwalk or with long black winter coats. The little cut-away patches add a little touch of sexiness to the looks which, are on the whole, pretty demure.
The look above to the right has the bold cut-away mosaic design again with oxblood, sand, burgundy and midnight blue all spun together in a magical mixture. The two looks to the left also continue the theme with contrasting colours cut across each-other at opposing angles. It's challenging, fresh and it works perfectly.
When I look at the colours I personally see a reflection of cheerful bright ceramics from the Ancient Greek and Roman worlds. Roksanda is drawing on a beautiful deep rich cultural heritage and transmuting it into many new and interesting formats.
I also love the shoes, a smart step away from the converse we all seem to inhabit at some stage in the spring and summer, these winkle-picker shoes are a fun flat shoe that Roksanda has re-invented with a heel.
The lattice frame criss-crosses the body in an echo of Elizabethan and early Jacobean era design coats. You really have to look at this piece closely to appreciate the work that was involved in making it and I think this is a piece in the collection that shows again that many of our ateliers in London that practice in Ready to Wear have very high production standards that are on a par with the the Haute Couture Houses of Paris.
Looking at the pieces I selected below colour bursts forth once again. In a complete contrast to the the dress to the right the next look that took my eye was the dress that appeared to be made up of patch-work. In a fun composite take on the collection this dress was pieced together in a challenging style different from the more restrained compositions that CHANEL or other houses show from time to time. Roksanda had her own mark on this, with mixed textures as well as colours.
Bold blue and black appear in more outfits and again interesting peplum detail features around the waist in one look whilst a-symmetry appears again in another. It's a great simple colour contrast that has maximum effect and creates that special Roksanda impact for the wearer. The midnight blue dress below with cut-away detail showing echos of the dress above is another great inspired evening wear piece. I particularly like the colour combination of the gold belt and the midnight blue. I think they work very well together.
I'm wrapping up my look at this collection with some of the technicolor and black contrasting pieces. These are pure fun and will appeal to a lot of people hoping to make a bold statement. I think I would chose the wear the low cut evening dress as it would make a fun splash during the party season in late autumn. Other than that I'm sure you could find a number of ocassion to wear it through the season and beyond.
One of the great advantages of a presentation is that you get to see the clothes at closer quarters than you do at shows unless you also go backstage. I really liked the picture above of Zoe with her modest smile and the racing outfit in the background. All designers at some stage usually references themes from their childhood that formed the back-drop to their expereinces and essentially helped shape them. I think that it's a natural step for some racing fashion to appear here especially with the boyish crossover that she brings to many of her looks. So we had racing jackets and trousers, very well executed and strong enough to stand the test for real in the Motorsport field.
Milliner Stephen Jones (see above) worked with Zoe on the visors, they make me think of the ski slopes to be honest, as well as the cityscape all year round. I think the team-branding motif was a great idea for the collection as it firmly brings the focus onto the 'Team Zoe Jordan' brand but also for some younger fashion followers out of school in the last few years (speaking here as a Brit who was in uniform from age 4-16) some younger fashion dressers like the simplicity of a unifirm-type style. The Americans, and now us also call it preppy and I would have put myself in the bracket for the first few years I was out of school too.
They beautiful grey-blue of the dresses also featured along-side them are worked with beautiful red embroidery and rosette details. The colour contrast only highlights the fantastic detail of the floral designs on the fabric. As with the gold and blue it portrays an elegant composed fabric that perfectly suits a formal occasion wear piece that will be treasured through many seasons. The final dress that I chose from the collection is a radiant burst of colours. Almost channeling both the artists palette and the radient blooms of Chinese fireworks and ancient Chinese gardens. It's a fantastic piece that will look good on many different people and will give the wearer great enjoyment.
David does a wonderful line in super-slick 21st century international city-chic. Quite a mouth-full there but I think it's the best way to describe what he does in his current collections. He has an identifiable brand of ready to wear that has strong international appeal and he is one of our greatest success stories in the last decade as a truly original young British Designer.
Continuing on from last season playing with similar thoughts on structure he continued the exploration of the style used in the sacred form of Japanese military clothing. It's an intimate cross over of men's fashion meeting with women's wear that we see in many forms across a number of collections. In this case David is using strong dark colours and playing more liberally with the designs than in last season. It's a technical feast for the eyes and these pieces where admired and studied very closely as they passed by on the catwalk.
I put together some key looks from the collection that for me really stood out and show what a broad range of themes Zoe has managed to pull out from her idea based around life around the race-track in and out of the pit. I think it's pretty apt for girls these days, life is fast and hectic as we build careers travel and look for a no nonsense wardrobe to support us as we go about accomplishing what we set out to do.
The first two looks above are slick multi-piece city girl looks. I love the grey knee-length jacket with outside pocket details. Matched with a skirt in the same fabric and a white blouse its a very versatile look for work or social and I love the way the visors work with this and all the other looks in the collection. Next a thigh-high mini skirt and twinned with over sized sweater with fur detail at the shoulders works a slightly more rock-look and teamed up with platform pumps this lady will be striding round the pit or the city with avengence. It's a great young power-dressing type look.
The racing stripes come back again with another sporty look and to me the trousers are also quite reminiscent of riding jodhpurs that girls often wear when they aren't going riding.
The two black trouser suits work the androgynous look and will be pretty comfy and warm in the autumn-winter too. To me they look like great outfits to travel in as well as great outfits to wear whenever you chose. Not specifically occasion pieces they also will fit easily into any professional women's wardrobe or could be worn for casual-dress events or lunches and dinners as well.
Thanks to Zoe and her team for a great afternoon.
And so the colour kept popping out down the catwalk and the intricate bohemian designs kept us enthralled and spell bound. it was a show that had the 'what will come next' wow feel to it and everyone was pleasantly surprised by what they where seeing.
The first dress to the right again works with the midnight blue theme and uses a very intricate spiraling design across the fabric that brought to my mind ropes of pearls. In the beautiful black blouse and shift skirt look next to it the ropes of pearls appear again. The skirt is detailed at the hem with slashes and is sewn at off-beat angles to give a ruching effect. It's a very fun piece that I think will appeal to a lot of women especially young girls looking to make their first purchases in high fashion.
The last individual look that I chose was a great combination that I would like to wear of peppy bright orange blouse with a peplum band sitting above a beautiful black skirt with high coloured patterning. This last look is one that I'd happily take out on the town this autumn. To close a look at the whole collection in passage. Really lovely.
Pictures of some of the show guests here, and I said a quick Hello to Hilary Alexander before the as she was walking around. There was a great buzz about and I was really glad to get this shot of Simone's Designer Dad John, having a good chat with Hilary. Plenty to talk about here and I blushed when Simone favorited my tweet. I used to work opposite Rocha HQ in London in Mayfair and saw John many times in between show season's. Hilary is always a joy to bump into and talk to if you get the chance. Her knowledge and enthusiasm is infectious and I always love to take a peek at her drawings.
A lovely pic below of Anna Wintour smiling sweetly ahead of the show. It's great for any young designer to have her support and as we later saw this was a new collection that had a fresh feeling of maturity about it. Next another international fashion editor who was wearing a great outfit and to the right the funny and charming Tallulah Harlech. I hadn't met her before but she seems heaps of fun with a great sense of humour.
Also Natalie Massenet was out and about talking to lots of people before the show and lending very public support to Simone and her team. A great BFC ambassador Natalie was working hard through London Fashion week and I saw her darting between many shows.
I found each of the above looks very interesting. Variations on a theme with many different cuts and styles Simone produced an impressive series of black dresses and coats that would proof you against the winter chill. The mid-though length of the skirts and the dresses gives the historical touches a playful edge of youth.
Black was traditionally the colour worn by the highest women in the land at court and at some times only worn by the queen. In a playful take on court politics Simon also included snake skin bags to accessorise some of these looks as well as following with fully snake skinned outfits. In the world of Tudor and Stuart courts you needed to have agile wits to survive. Each of these looks would make a fun addition to your wardrobe for the Autumn-Winter season.
For this collection Simone reached back into the history books to find her themes and inspirations for Autumn-Winter 2014. In a slightly more grown up twist than we've seen before she decided to play with the image and form of styles worn in teh Elizabethan era by that the famously fashionable Queen and her contemporaries across Europe. I could see a reference to Elizabeth's cousin north of the boarder Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland, in the many of the tartan designs below.
The brocading at the neckline and across the arches of hips gives a simple addition to the outfit that instantly inspires the idea of the past and antique. The the full skirts crafted into a form of the kirtle and or the over gown that was part of the multi-layered structure of dresses in previous centuries.
The collection continued working more with the themes of historical luxury and the strength imposed by black with a quirky off-beat new style of cut from Simone. The innovative slashes and openings in the gowns that she showed last season continued forward into the new collection. Looking back to the past Simone also picked up on the use of fur that was prominent in the English and Scottish wardrobes in the 16th and 17th century.
Through cold winters in cold buildings people often wore fur. Some skins came from traditional hunts and many others would be imported from Scandinavia and Russia as a luxury item. The sleeveless fur gillet to the left above harks back to these examples of fur that are sometimes seen in paintings. Bringing all up to date the silver skirt beneath it shines with the glow of the modern age.
My favourite look from the collection was the sheer lace jacquard style black dress above. I though it was stunning and looked great on the model as she walked in it. You could add a black vest or bodice underneath it if you so chose to give a little more coverage but I thought this was a piece from the collection that would have very broad appeal.
Another touch of fur was added by using black pony skin to a number of looks in the collection. It looked very grand and very chic and totally fitting for the type of look that Simone was aiming to create in this collection. I really liked the red dress above right that had the Spanish-farthingale petticoat shape. Again beautifully sheer in it's structure with the modern flexibilty of the open waist, it sat light on the models figure and had it's own gentle movement and carriage as she walked. It's a dress that you could really dance in and have a great time.
The use of the brocade in the form of a necklace and also as a hair ornament adds another regal touch to the outfit as a crowning motif of the design. Simone also explored tartan to some degree in this collection and working around the theme of red close to the Royal Stuart tartan she created a number of different looks of varying simplicity the off-set the earlier more somber tones the looks.
Barbara is in her second season on the main schedule at London Fashion Week. Her second London collection was equally as impressive as the first and I gather she also was invited to exhibit at Pitti in Florence in January as a guest women's wear desingner on the men's schedule, returning to the city where she worked for Roberto Cavalli after her graduation from Instituto Marangoni over in Milan.
For her second outing on London's catwalk she produced another beautifully mature collection. Very chic and understated with clear international appeal but with her own recognisable style upon it. A lady of similar tastes to me I loved her colour scheme of black, grey, magenta and a little blush pink.
True to understanding her clients Barbara neatly arranged her catwalk to echo the changing room experience that her clients have when visiting a boutique. With portals between each side of the catwalk reminiscent of the changing rooms in salons.
She stuck with long clear lines and favoured traditional ensembles that will draw a crowd of ready clients. Trouser suits with tailored jackets borrowing lines from men's style and then lengthening over the woman's hips to streamline her curves, where re-worked in several different forms and colours through the collection. In many places Barbara used a thin belt or simply cropped an outfit into two halves either side of the waist to give definition to the figure.
I'm closing my look at the collection with some shots from the passage of the models at the end of the show. Simone got huge cheers and lots of encouragement from her audience and rightly so. one of my favourite looks from the passage above was the tartan trouser with the simple bandeau tartan top as a two piece outfit. I think it looked great and would be fun to wear at any point in the year. I also think it would work well with a black jacket especially in bolero style. I'm really interested to see what Simone will draw upon next for Spring-Summer 2015.
Borrowing from the junior wardrobe Barbara also re-worked the pinafore skirt in several places during the collection in a new dropped-waist form detailed with buttons in a morphing of the double breasted style of the men's jackets. It's interesting and it does work. There's a strong nod to the 1970's here and the wide brimmed South American style hats send an echo back to the Brazil of Barbara's childhood. This is a pared down style for a women who knows what she wants in life and has the need for a wardrobe that's uncomplicated, elegant un-fussy. It's not too serious, there are some playful pieces that will appeal to many clients across age categories.
For me Barbara's offering this season was another of the collections where you could see her, the designer, dressing several immaculately turned out women across the generations in one family from South America or anywhere else in the world as in the Herrera family for example. I think that this is a young designer who really has found her signature style early in her career. I'm sure she will grow, change and develop in many new interesting angles and direction but I think we already have an interesting idea of who Barbara Casasola is, and I can't wait to see more.