The busiest day at London Fashion Week saw David Koma, Holly Fulton, Peter Pilotto, Christopher Kane, Pringle of Scotland, Michael van der Ham, Todd Lynn, Paul Smith and Burberry Prorsum.
The wife of the PM, Samantha Cameron, as ambassador for the British Fashion Council, was in the audience at David Koma and Holly Fulton. Koma was inspired by Tim Burton and dark forests, and, given the inspiration, it was no surprise to see him use black as a base colour for autumn–winter 2011–12. Black was contrasted with bright reds, greens and blues, as well as a light skin colour, in detail, which included fur cuffs and trim.
Fulton remained true to her silk jersey prints, but added an art-déco inspiration and used velvet and PVC. Black was her base but there was more colour than with Koma, with yellows and blues highlighting the collection. A few models had issues with their heels, leading one to remove hers as she came on to the catwalk.
Peter Pilotto was inspired by the student protests in London and Paris, but the execution was elegant, with elegant, asymmetric dresses in metallic magentas, blues and yellows initially. More chaotic designs came out in the middle of the show, with contrasting fabrics and cuts, including slashes to the fabric across the chest.
Mrs Cameron also frequented the Christopher Kane show, as did Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. Kane was not afraid to experiment, and showed garments with vegetable oil-ﬁlled plastic, inspired by Sodastream and lava lamps from his childhood.
Clare Waight Keller at Pringle of Scotland clearly understands the heritage of her brand: she has dug into the archives and created modern takes on Pringle classics. We saw wonderful knitwear and what we would term ‘honest’ design—simple, wearable, and stylish—at the show at the church at One Marylebone. Her poncho-styled coats, oversized hoods and cable-knit dresses were memorable.
Michael van der Ham continued his love of multi-fabrication. The collage effect has been toned down this season, however, and we saw very bright single-fabric velvet, ﬂoral-print and jacquard-knitted dresses with adventurous cuts. It’s a direction we’re happy to see van der Ham take. Meanwhile, Todd Lynn, inspired by the Bible, the Age of Enlightenment and Sid Vicious, showed high collars obscuring the lower half of the face, skin-tight silhouettes, and a clever use of diagonal cuts, in an androgynous collection.
Paul Smith took us down memory lane at the Savoy with what might be termed vintage styles in an autumn–winter collection of mannish suits, blouses, trousers and coats. The colour palette was initially quite muted, with greys and browns, but blouses, shoes, cuffs and embroidery in bright colours, such as orange and red, brightened the collection. It was a classic collection that stayed true to Smith’s roots.
At Hyde Park, Burberry Prorsum’s Christopher Bailey took the brand’s 1960s’ archives and images of Jean Shrimpton by Patrick Lichﬁeld as a starting-point.
Naturally, Burberry gave us a modernized version of the raincoat, but Bailey was not afraid to push the envelope further than he had done in earlier seasons.
Women’s coats were boxy with voluminous sleeves, while we saw more ﬂuid men’s designs, and toward the end of the show (as fake snow poured down) Bailey sent down short transparent, black-trimmed jackets as a homage to the traditional style.
Bailey used epaulettes and buckles on his coats, tying his designs to the Burberry heritage, but endowed his designs with a conﬁdence that evoked, but did not duplicate, the optimism of the 1960s.
Perhaps a drive toward optimism stressed that the economic mood was anything but in modern Britain, though Burberry Prorsum’s uplifting designs will surely be welcome this autumn.
Pringle of Scotland
Michael van der Ham