Another jam-packed day of fashion fun in the capital today, starting with Nicole Farhi whose collection was clean and fresh for autumn, in dark colours, chic neutrals and sumptuous fabrics. Beautiful double-breasted camel coats were belted over shimmering draped jersey dresses.
Next came Antonio Berardi (left) who showed sharp tailored jackets and dresses, with all the sex appeal of a Helmut Newton shoot and echoes of Seventies Yves Saint Laurent. Sheer chiffon pussy-bow blouses and lace-backed (and fronted) peekaboo dresses. It was all a bit much for 11 in the morning.
Christopher Kane's shows are always exciting, because his look changes so massively from season to season. This collection was made up of intricate colourful florals embroidered onto black leather, vinyl, lace and chiffon. It should have been horrible, but it was absolutely stunning. Of course.
Then Roksanda Ilincic (right), whose draped goddess dresses are timelessly elegant as well as effortlessly 'now.' She diversified into wool this season, with lady-like coats, but her signature silk numbers were still there. A perfect pick for any fashion forward red carpet walker.
Erdem (left)was one of the most beautiful shows I have ever witnessed in London. Set against the background of the Senate House, models had to negotiate 30 steep stairs on their circuit - not easy in sinuous floorlength gowns! Several times there looked to be a situation, but they pikced themselves up and carried on. Dresses were digitally printed with swallows and distorted florals, using unusual colour combinations to great effect: deep pinks and greens, blues, yellows, oranges and grey chiffon. Stunning. Watch the show in full on the Independent website from tomorrow.
Marios Schwab's shownotes said that his inspiration had come from being the only boy at fashion school. Sweet. But his collection (right) showed a hard-edged femininity, with modern takes on dirndl skirts and dresses, with laced bodices and fun fur fabrics (supposedly the very same that Stieff teddy bears are made of.)
Rounding off our day, London veteran Paul Smith showed an outdoorsy collection of tweeds, knits and flat caps. Favourite pieces included the digitally printed wellington socks!
Highlights included Kinder Aggugini's Napoleonic-inspired collection, completed with adorable 2D berets and tricorns by milliner Stephen Jones. Aggugini showed military detailing, sharp tailoring and flowing empire line maxi-dresses in a collection that cited Madame Juliette Recamier as its inspiration - a high-minded literary woman who stood up to Napoleon.
The catwalk was decorated like an eighteenth century salon, with chandeliers and ornate gold statues littering the runway.
There was more headgear on display at Fashion East, the Brick Lane-based collective that helps young designers get a foot in the door of London's busy schedule. This year the chosen three were hatter Nasir Mazhar (right) whose wild creatins ranged from a bear-shaped bonnets made of sugary blue and pink lace strips, to a black medieval hennins, with a veil that trailed the floor. He also showed imaginative accessories, including a pair of steel claw gauntlets, as well as bags and rucksacks.
Heikki Salonen (left) showed a minimalist collection with a gothic edge, comprising strict and taut tailoring in muted colours, intriguingly puffed puffa jackets, leather detailing and highly constructed denim pieces. NEWGEN sponsored Michael van der ham was next, with his distcintive method of patchworking different genres of garments to create piece that defy definition and chronology. The result was disco-florals, prim brocade and hacked-up cocktail gowns.
Topshop's Unique show was next, and it was brilliant. All snuggly winter woollens styled by Katie Grand in an eccentric country-house-weekend sort of way. There were fuzzy animal hats and antlers too by the wonderful Emma Cook, but Team Indyfashion's seats were not conducive to taking photos...
Thankfully we could see a bit more at Mark Fast, who had big names and big ladies walking for him. Plus-size goddess Crystal Renn made an appearance, and one-time Independent cover star Anouck Lepere closed the show, while partner Jefferson Hack looked on proudly from the front row. Fast's intricate and complex knitting techniques make for clothes that are at-once chic and cool, as well as incredibly tricky. Clingy wool dresses were slashed and cut into, with holes as integral to the structure as yarn is. There were also draped jumpers and dresses, capes and scarves. And with so many audience members wearing his pieces in tribute, Fast is certain to get bigger and bigger - just like his models.
Fast showed back-to-back with Mary Katrantzou, whose collection included more of her signature digital printed dresses.
We squashed into House of Holland after that, to see a collection of bandana printed mini dresses, accessorized with chunky bling earrings, side ponytails and slogan T-shirts.
Ann-Sofie Back was our last show of the day, and it was a favourite with the team. Her imagination gives her collections a real edge - this one was based on an avatar of herself that she created in the online game, Second Life, and feature jeans with wispy chiffon wings attached to the posterior, cutaway floor-length dresses, chiffon trousers embellished with ruching and pleating, and elephantine grey suede. All to the deafening soundtrack of blood-curdling, screaming emo musdic. Just the ticket.
Last Monday saw the sixth annual Fashion Fringe final take place in Covent Garden as part of London Fashion Week. The competition, set up by creative director and venerable fashion journalist Colin McDowell, seeks to discover and help to establish some of the best young design talent in Britain and several previous winners can be found on the London schedule: Aminaka Wilmont, Eun Jeong and Basso and Brooke to name but a few.
The show's standards were as high as ever - they had to be, given the four finalists were chosen by a panel that included not only McDowell but also Jimmy Choo's Tamara Mellon and Donatella Versace - a magnate never backwards in coming forwards for young talent. She offered Christopher Kane his first gig, let's not forget.
The four finalists were Elliot Atkinson, Jena Theo, Lidija&Dejan and Yelena Smirnova. Set in the Flower Cellars, the show was a slick production of four catwalk presentations, preceded and follwed by much champagne quaffing, canapé sampling and schmoozing, before the winners were announced. This year, duo Jena Theo scooped the prize - which is a year of training, generous grants, mentoring and a much sought-after spot on next season's London schedule. You haven't seen the last of them!
Here's a snap of one of the looks in their winning collection, which featured silk layered dresses, beautiful swoops of fabrics, structural yet delicately feminine harnessing details and a voluminous new take on dhoti trousers, made from the softest cotton jersey.
Next, Todd Lynn who broke away from the razor-sharp tailoring with which he made his name. Although the tuxedo jackets and blazers were still present, as was his trademark skinny silhouette, he explored fluidity and formlessness with draped fine knits, "exoskeletal" metal
shoulder detailing and jersey separates, inspired by an ancient Algerian queen.
House of Holland was the usual jovial affair, with Henry Holland's mates making up a large portion of the crowd. Fortunately, they include the sisters Geldof, Agyness Deyn and Alexa Chung, so the front row was eminently recognisable. Lorraine Kelly was also in attendance, as was Nicola form Girls Aloud, who arrived late and had to stand at the back. The collection was vibrant and brash, in neon oranges and pinks with lace and denim accents, finished with a lacey wedding dress worn by the incomparably beautiful Dree Hemingway (brains and beauty, so unfair).
We arrived late to Paul Smith because we hitched a lift with Colin McDowell, whose car promptly got stuck in rush-hour traffic. But we made it to the show just as the lights dimmed and enjoyed his collection of prim knits and tribal brights. The styling was particularly great, with cardigans flung over shoulders, twisted and knotted any which way - great inspiration for shaking up your existing wardrobe.
The launch party for Nick Knight's SHOWstudio exhibition was at Somerset House, so we went and had a look round. It's a great show - must go back another time for a proper look when it isn't full of boozed fashion types - so do go along. It's there until December. After that, the Paul Smith party which had fantastic views of the river and parliament from its perch high in Millbank Tower, and to the Luella party at Bunglaow 8, where they were serving great cocktails to fab 90s grunge music until the small hours, when we finally took ourselves home.
Next up was Newgen's Louise Goldin, whose futuristic knitwear has caught the fashion world's attention in recent years. Now consulting for Italian cashmere brand Ballantyne, Goldin has perhaps found a more ladylike side. her collection today was inspired by Louis XIV and was a set of pastel pinks, blues and golds - babydoll dresses came with brocade trim and conical bras, fluted, draped and tucked in artfully formative styles (below).
Nicole Farhi showed once at the Royal Opera House to a large crowd - her painterly prints and vibrant block colours were summery and wearable, for holidays on the Riviera or just in Devon.
Topshop's Unique show was quite an event - the venue was packed and among the audience were Alexa Chung, New York hipster Leigh Lezark, the ubiquitous Peaches Geldof and none other than Kate Moss herself, sitting at Sir Phillip Green's right hand on high. I had the fortune to bump into her in the ladies' loos. How was she? Hot, she said. In stilettos and denim hotpants, she wasn't wrong. The collection had a Nineties feel to t, with grungey knits (apparently one was a direct copy of a jumper Kurt Cobain had) and sloppy T-shirts in rave colours, decorated with spikes and studs.
Lancashire-born Antonio Berardiw was one of London's hottest tickets over a decade ago and his collection has gone from commecial strength to strength since he started showing in Milan. but he's back! His collection was set in an atmospheric church, and contained rigid cocoon-ish wraps and jackets over lacey body-con dresses with bar fastening and cinched waists.
Julien Macdonald created an indoor garden for his sporty show. Models strutted between lawns, fountains and classical statues, while the audience fanned themselves in the rising heat.
Dame Vivienne Westwood's shows are always tricky to get into. Not because you're name's not on the list, but because of the thousands of devotees who try to push in. Fighting through an enormous crowd, I saw Boy George with Jeanette, Skin from Skunk Anansie and designer Judy Blame, wearing a facial harness made of frilly knickers. It was like being in Leigh Bowery's Blitz club.
The collection referenced Westwood's concerns with the environment and suggested a blissful rural idyll, with models chewing on hay and smoking spliffs. Hmmm. The clothes, as always, were beautiful - she remains one of (if not the) cleverest seamstresses in the industry, with her perfect tailoring, pintucking and draping. A beautiful show, and here she is taking her bow...
Mark Fast showed intricate (and revealing!) knit dresses on plus-size models
Mary Katrantzou's graphic prints
Fluttery leaves of chiffon at John Rocha
Girly models with ringlets wore creations by milliner Stephen Jones at Kinder Aggugini's show
Danielle Scutt's show was feisty meets Forties, where housewife detailing clashed with power dressing
Starting off this morning were Mark Fast and Mary Katrantzou, two Topshop NewGen designers who were new to the London schedule last season. Fast's intricate cobwebby knits were shown off to great advantage on some 'real' models - the sort that have curves. He's sizing his collection with letters this season, rather than the traditional numbers. It'll bring a new meaning to a double A. There were tightly contoured dresse, crop tops and sumptuous skirts with beautiful bells of wool hanging off like tassels.
Mary Katrantzou once again showed colourful graphic prints that put us in mind of Metropolis. Add to that fluted necklaces made of coloured glass and swooping, architectural cuts and you had real catwalk odyssey.
Next up was John Rocha, a London stalwart who has shown here since the original fashion week 25 years ago. His fluttery chiffon leaves adorned simply tailored dresses with sheer panels, mannish coats and cropped trousers in nudes, creams, pastels and vivid bright green.
Kinder Aggugini drew a big crowd at the Somerset House tents for his second London show. He included a timely Happy Birthday dress in his collection, which referenced fairytales and the transition from girl to woman. Models with bouncy ringlets and fresh, dewy make-up wore oversized mob caps by beloved British milliner Stephen Jones, and the designer himself garnered cheers from the audience as he took his final bow.
Then it was back to the Topshop venue for Danielle Scutt's show. She has a way with lycra, prints and power dressing that makes it seem fresh, feminine and fierce. Forties style skirt suits were decorated with cheeky peekaboo cutouts, peplums and bobbly keffiyeh scarves. Also present: cute takes on aprons and bustles accessorising otherwise street-edged bodycon shifts.
Osman's show was rammed, a real scrum to get into and hotly anticipated. After a season off-schedule in February, people were realising what they had been missing. His brand of super clean, modern minimalism recalls glamorous holidays in the sun (with casual shifts and goddess dresses) as well as space age futurism, with sharply cut tailoring and rigid pleating on tuxedo jackets and dhoti trousers.
And that takes us up to Ashish, which I'm queuing for right now. A crafty crane of neck around the backstage door revealed more of the primary colour sequinned shifts he is so well known for, but the tickets to the show are, rather charmingly, postcards from British seaside towns. Mine's from Bournemouth. Could he be the man to sex up the south coast?
There was a time when Sass & Bide skinny jeans were the only ones to be seen wearing. Since then, the Australian denim brand has moved into full ready-to-wear collections, beloved of rock and roll types and modern boho babes - Kimberly Stewart and Alison Mosshart of The Kills were in the front row tonight.
The collection included diaphanous goddess gowns and jumpsuits in black and cream, and bodycon tribal looks in similar monochrome. All pieces were embellished with intricate gold and silver Aztec-style studs and metallics - perfect for warrior women at gigs or on the beach.
This is my first blog for a while, so bear with me if the images are all in a line or look a bit duff. London Fashion Week S/S10 kicked off today at its brand new venue at Somerset House.
Bora Aksu's show was packed with celebrities as diverse as the new T4 presenter (well, do you know her name?) to Michelle Williams, formerly of girl group Destiny's Child and currently starring in West End musical Chicago.
The show was somewhat less glitzy and a bit tougher, with girly nudes, sheer chiffon and swirled military detailing on jackets, shift dresses and across sequinned leggings and tights. There were frayed spiderwebbish crochet rope dresses too, giving the collection a pretty and romantic edge to the punky look that London is so well known for.
It wouldn't be London Fashion Week without a bit of sex, death and profanity - thankfully, hatter Nasir Mazhar provided all three at his presentation this evening. The intimate installation was held at the House of St. Barnabas in an atmospheric and candlelit gothic chapel - a strangely serene venue tucked away in the middle of bustling Soho.
I wrote about Mazhar earlier this year, for our annual Talent Special, so have a look if you want to know a bit more: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/p
Traditionally, a hatter is a constructor of formal - that is, sculptural - headwear, where a milliner is someone who adds embelishments and decorations. Mazhar puts himself firmly in the former category, and explores not only the boundaries of wearable hats and masks, but also looks to utilise empty spaces around the head. He is a couturier, rather than a designer, with each piece intricately worked by hand and a one-off.
So he's a fairly rarified choice for Topshop's New Gen sponsorship, but more than deserves it for his esoteric creations and artisanship. His collection this evening was a delicate mix of sacred and profane, drawing once again on the medieval influences seen in his previous offerings. A tableau against the altar comprised a weeping, or grimacing, Grecian nypmh and her male counterpart, halfway between a statue and a chorus member in ancient tragedies. There were also twins in what looked like scarlet cardinal hats, but which could equally have been flying saucers - this seems to sum up his collection, the arcane and the other. The centrepiece, seated in front of a falsetto monk singing plainsong, was a model in a headpiece of orbital golden bands, perfectly representing Mazhar's ambitions to fill the space around his subject's heads. He's certainly filling a unique space on the London schedule, and his affecting presentation provided a suitably dramatic finale.