Friday 23 March 2018

London delights with nostalgia for the modern times

Simone Rocha
Simone Rocha
Gareth Pugh
Preen by Thornton Bregazzi.
Mary Katrantzou
Alexander McQueen
Jasper Conran
Julien Macdonald

The Seventies are gone, gone, gone, according to London Fashion Week's autumn/winter (a/w) presentations, and thank God. (Of course, that will likely change next week in 1970s-loving, decadent Milan.)

At London Fashion Week, the collections shown for next autumn were rich in life force and colour and awash in lavish embellishment and stunning fabrics. It was an upbeat, original and gorgeous fashion week.

Sequins were on everything from sweaters to dresses, trousers to shoes. In fact three-dimensional embellishment, a trend that first appeared this time last year, was in full flight.

Mary Katrantzou presented a collection that was a sharp change in gear from the digital prints and sculpted dresses on which she built her brand. For next winter, her collection featured scarf-wearing ladies dressed in Fifties Western-styled shirts and skirts, bedecked with tooled leather in primary colours, leopard print and fur trims.

To London Fashion Week's delight, Alexander McQueen returned to the show for the first time in years; the label had moved to Paris under Alexander McQueen himself and it was a severe blow to London Fashion Week's pulling power.

Sarah Burton, who took over designing the label after McQueen's death, is currently well into her third pregnancy. I was told by an admiring member of the McQueen staff that she has been an unstoppable powerhouse of work and creativity in the weeks leading up to the show.

The Alexander McQueen a/w 2016 collection was presented in a large room with sheer black drapes sectioning people off as if in a funeral home. Featured strongly in the collection were fine leather, hand-painted or embellished coats, and near sheer, richly embroidered and embellished long gowns. As a collection it was at times ethereal and at others full of delicious sensuality.

Last season, Simone Rocha, too, was heavily pregnant. By this season, her baby daughter, Valentine, had been born. For me, Simone's collection for autumn 2016 reflected her big life changes. It was womanly - beautiful and at times, majestic. Gone were the short lengths and baby-doll-like dresses of before. In were stunning silk satin, or sheer, three-quarter length dresses, beautiful long coats and her trademark knit lace pieces.

Swaddling was a theme, Simone said, and you could see it in the layers she built into each look. It was, as always with Simone Rocha, a feminine and romantic collection. It had the fash-pack talking for days.

Another confident, creative and womanly collection was Preen by Thornton Bregazzi. It was bohemia in the true sense of the word. It featured blouson blouses and loose dresses in blousy prints, with tiered skirts and drawstring necklines. There were big white shirts (a big theme throughout London Fashion Week) and semi-sheer tops and dresses (another key trend of the season). A fur coat made an appearance, as it did a lot at this fashion week.

In fact, I couldn't get over how much fur women were wearing at the shows. This was animal-loving England....?

Gareth Pugh went for that feminine aspect that was all about power dressing. Very Forties in feel, we were treated to sharp shoulder lines, sculpted necklines on dresses and fabulously tailored, double-breasted trouser suits.

Julien Macdonald's was perhaps the most sequins-strewn, the most body-tastic, the most glamour-giving show of the week.

Anya Hindmarch's Space Invaders-inspired show was impressive. Her collection featured little 'monsters' on pockets, or hoods, on clothing with handbags and boots that matched the motif. It was nostalgia for a part of the Eighties, but it was for today's women.

I loved Sibling's collection for its brightly coloured knitwear, in every shape you could think of, some pieces richly embellished with stars, others lavishly fringed in brightly coloured yarn.

It summed up perfectly what London Fashion is - free thinking and itself.

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