“Let them eat cake”, commanded Meadham Kirchoff’s balloon festooned show, complete with can-can dancers dressed as Courtney Love-alikes and pre-teen ballet dancers twirling on an enormous gateau, as models in Marie Antoinette mini dresses streamed down the catwalk. And at the Spring-Summer 2012 London Fashion Week in a celebration of British talent, that’s exactly what they did.
Suddenly LFW has found itself central to the emerging appreciation of technological precision and maverick ideas that have become the driving force behind contemporary fashion. This season, London has found its feet and they are wearing shoe collaborations between Peter Pilotto and Nicholas Kirkwood, and Jonathan Saunders and Christian Louboutin.
This season the shows were awash with pale, sherbet –pretty tones. Richard Nicoll presented saccharine 60s futurism with plastic and chiffon overlays over bleached out floral prints. These David Lynch inspired hues were also seen at Christopher Kane where shimmering short suits in washed out sorbet shades walked hand in hand with leather shift dresses in palest gold and silver. Appliqué florals and hologram stickers created an entirely new form of embellishment that is typical of Kane’s interest in unusual craft. What really impressed at Christopher Kane, however, was his creation of an aluminium organza so fine it had to be layered four times to give such a sublimely iridescent effect.
At Erdem, Moralioglu was equally inspired by old wallpaper prints, sending his signature silhouettes out in cool blue
florals, punctuated with pops of yellow and red, with fine lace overlays. Like at Erdem, there was very little flesh on show at Jonathan Saunders – both designers played with the concept of allure this season. Saunders’ woman is a staunch believer in below-the-knee length skirts, yet her sex appeal lies in the revelation of less obvious erogenous zones – a nipped in waist, or a hint of collar-bone from under a silken boyfriend jacket. Saunders’ sugary palette worked well with his fifties silhouettes in brocades and waffle knits. His use of paisley print was seen also at J.W. Anderson, and at Clements Ribeiro, where Suzanna Clements and Inacio Ribeiro played to their strengths with light summery toile-de-joys, lace panelling and wearable, sellable separates.
It was a week of daywear, with J.W. Anderson and Acne both showcasing a new take on the utilitarian. J.W. Anderson confirmed his status as ‘the one to watch’ with his popular interweaving of the male and female uniform. Monogrammed pyjama suits and cardigan dresses with sleeves hanging from the waist demonstrated how practical daywear can still be a novelty.
At Pringle, new creative director Alistair Carr corroborated this, spinning his Balenciaga roots into a contemporary take on the twinset in a graphic print that buttons at the back, instead of the front. The sportswear trend favoured at New York Fashion Week was mirrored in London at Peter Pilotto in their collaboration with scuba-inspired swimwear designer Lisa-Marie Fernandez. Their aquatic, tropical prints were concurrent with the trend for print sparked last season by Mary Katrantzou, who played to her strengths with a surreal print but on far more wearable garments than she is prone to making.
Burberry excelled this season with a tribal theme developed through African inspired prints and woven natural fabrics. It was an accessories heavy show, with profuse embellishment, including ethnic wooden beading, and a very wearable parka with a raffia trim that is sure to be a sell out.
In stark contrast, Giles’ full skirted, luxurious demi-couture was as far from daywear as it is possible to be. The swan motif that ran throughout the show culminated in a red-feathered gown, complete with a poised Stephen Jones swan headdress. Deacon’s use of laser cut silver leather showed an extremely high level of craftsmanship in technology and research, in keeping with the spirit of this season’s LFW.