… And L’Wren Scott tripped all the way from New York to show her AW’13 collection in London for the first time. The model-turned-stylist-turned-designer offered up a platter of lamb shank shepherd’s pie alongside a collection inspired by Gustav Klimt. The inspiration translated into a sexy, sparkle-strewn play of Seventies, disco and rock ‘n’ roll, dripping in glitter and gold. Floor-length gowns and careful tailoring, this felt like a collection the designer would wear herself. “I guess I was just ready to sparkle,” she said, and sparkle she did.
Vivienne Westwood Red Label is always a sight to behold. Against the backdrop of the Saatchi gallery, it was a collection that followed no trends – simply the designer’s emotions. “When you put one of my dresses on I want you to feel sexy, I want it to tell a story – it’s theatrical, as if you’re playing a character… A dress is like an extension of your personality.” The show started with striped coats, moving on into pantaloons, ruched skirts and tailored jackets. The familiar Vivienne Westwood corseted, bodycon dresses were paired with glittering jewellery, and the collection ramped up to a metallic, shimmering finale, with animal print jacquard and a netted prom dress. But the final look had to be explained – the model walking on with a clipboard – “It’s about being informed… You’ve got to start to love the world. Forget this idea of the latest thing – go to an art gallery, look around you, be inspired. Play that character. If you alter just a few small things to start with, then they can change your life.”
Unique came next. We have already seen flashes of the Nineties on the rails in Topshop, so it stands to reason that one of the hottest trends from London Fashion Week is in full swing down the catwalk. It was Nineties – with all the textures, crop tops, and oversized silhouettes – but with a modern update – think digitized floral prints, part of a Google collaboration. Part of the collaboration also meant you could see from the point of view of the models through Model Cam – as they strutted in sequins, leather and fine knit.
Then Mark Fast had his turn – in a pared back collection of elegant and easy-going proportions. On the tenth floor of the ME Hotel – with its dual-aspect of London – there were only ten looks to go down the catwalk, but each was careful and delicate. Fringed, feathered yarn resembled ostrich feathers on skirts, and bodycon creations that are Fast’s staple, and proves yet again why he is the forerunning designer for knitwear. There were more capes (for which I’m eternally grateful as I love this trend), and the colour palette was clean and simple – black, cream, red, pink and orange.
Mary Katrantzou was inspired by the dark black-and-white photography of Edward Steichen, Clarence White and Alfred Stieglitz – making a more sinister and sophisticated collection for AW’13. Angles were sharp, Japanese origami styles, dresses with arched shoulders and folds rippling down from the waist; it was a familiar yet new collection from Katrantzou.
Jonathan Saunders chose to celebrate the female form with his AW’13 collection. Already being likened to Marc Jacobs and Prada, he explained: “It’s about womanhood, Fifties pin-ups, British icons, Diana Dors.” There was something of the Hitchcock about the theme – starting prim and proper in murky greens, mustard and black and ending provocatively in in-built corsets and the idea of underwear as outerwear. Red and green lace dresses with leaf appliqué, then think Jessica Rabbit for the off-shoulder number, and Stepford with the pink fuzzy number.
Matthew Williamson followed the Dominic Jones presentation (are you keeping up with it all yet?), who brought Summer back to the AW’13 catwalk. “It was really about using light and energy to bring something else to monochrome and grey and black,” he told Vogue backstage, following a confetti-strewn finale. Inspired by the Northern Lights (all those “toxic colours like those acid greens”), it was a play of texture – fur and holographic sequins, fringing and embellishment, in turquoise and magenta and the acid bright colours of a particularly psychedelic rainbow. Layers were key – with shapes inspired by Nordic style – with pleated skirts and knitwear. The chevron coats and column gowns made perfect party gear – a celebration of Summer, snuggled up tight in layers of texture, sequins and style.
The Tate Britain was swamped by Paul Smith fans on this Sunday afternoon, as the bubbly, enthusiastic designer showed a bright and excitable AW’13 collection to match his attitude. His pioneering feminine/androgynous cuts were still ever present, this time in cerise, turquoise and Cadbury’s purple. “I never had any formal training, so I play with colour and texture, because I can’t do those wild big shapes. I’m an everyday boy, always have been. And it’s so dour out there at the moment – colour makes us happy.” And I quite agree – the colour splashed across tailored trousers, tweed coats and strapless mini dresses made me very happy.
Second-to-last on day three of London Fashion Week was Richard Nicoll; his androgynous take was drawn from the menswear line and adapted for the women’s catwalk, with lines following the body but not hugging it, and muted colours of navy, black and dove grey suddenly outshone by searing orange. Ruffles and soft textures leaned comfortably across crystal-embellished snakeskin dresses, and bold herringbone gave a gentle pattern where there could have been none. “It’s about balancing the elements… My brief to myself is fabrics in disguise.”
Last on the bill for day three was Marios Schwab. Fast becoming the red carpet favourite – with his unique blend of modernity, tradition and flair – his recent collections of floor-skimming gowns have travelled into AW’13 too. Think Ginger Rogers dancing light-footed for this range – nude tulle with mosaic under its skirts, velvet maroon with a thigh-flashing slit, and cocktail dresses with flared skirts. Yet more capes – with slit sleeves – and tunic dresses with Tudor-esque fluted arms. His overall inspiration? Calligrams; poetry in visual form. And this collection was poetry in the making.
Phew! So there you have it. Day three of the whirlwind AW’13 London Fashion Week. Enjoying yourself?