labels Biba and Zandra Rhodes, and the Emporio Armani show/extravaganza, there were high expectations amongst hot young things such as Christopher Kane and Clare Tough. Although some were anti-climactic, most had strong and impressive collections. As for the debate about skinny models running
throughout London fashion week, it’s clear where London designers stand.
For s/s ’07 it’s about having fun — and showing off your curves.
The hips, a feature most women prefer to minimize, were exaggerated and glorified on the catwalks. Richard Nicoll created pantaloons with pleating on the hips and paired them with fitted half-shirts. This was also a theme at Preen, who
set puffball shapes on the sides of miniskirts and dresses, as well as padding or manipulated fabric, giving the illusion
of broader shoulders on short-sleeved shirts. All the garments were shown in subtly cool blues and cotton whites. Embellished
again with padding were dresses by Marios Schwab. His play on cone-busts was a clear reference to Madonna’s "Vogue"-ing days of the ’90s. In addition, his collection offered
hexagonal padding on the hips of dresses, and gemstones on the knees of pencil-leg trousers – he showed great knowledge of
cut and the female form. Another designer who showed a passion for fabric was Clare Tough. A recent graduate from Central
St Martins alongside Christopher Kane, Tough produced a collection of fresh knitwear. With knitted caps, large knit cardigans, and cut-out leather that looked
like petals and seashells, Tough depicted knit as young and sexy for s/s ’07.
Figure-hugging dresses were a firm staple in the London collections, but nobody made them more appealing than Christopher
Kane. Lycra dresses in colors such as calypso orange, warning-sign yellow, and hot pink contrasted either with beige lace,
large zips, Swarovski crystals, or padded accessories — he managed to put the fun back into dressing up. With his collection
accessorised by Versace, the super glamour of the ’90s has finally made its way back to runways with a bang.
If Nicoll and Kane exemplify the pop disco girls, then Giles certainly favors the rock chicks. With a monochrome collection
in silk and chiffon, Deacon added chain prints onto an elegant silhouette, and accessorised couture-like dresses with black
leather chokers and strappy stilettos enhanced with silver spikes.
Although cut-out tight dresses were prominent during the London shows, print continues to make its mark. Basso & Brooke took a more sophisticated approach towards prints, emphasized in the label’s flapper-style dresses.
With current prints ranging from animal to Oriental and African, the phallic images that brought them so much attention
in previous collections are far behind them. Jonathan Saunders also went in a new direction, using very little print, and focusing instead on the subtlety of color and cut. With geometric
shapes and linear prints, touches of color brought his collection together.
Print may have come out in drips and drabs in other collections, but Zandra Rhodes impressed crowds with her epic show. Opening
with supermodel Erin O’Connor, Rhodes’ show was relentless. With each design, it became clear that after so many years of
not showing, she had a lot of catching up to do. Prints of every color, shape, and size graced her show. It was an explosion
of graphics and textures on folds of fabric, set off with giant accessories. The show was truly memorable, with at least six
changes per model.
Another jaw-dropping moment came courtesy of Gareth Pugh. While most LFW veterans are now braced for his theatrical collections, he never ceases to amaze with his conceptual approach
to fashion. With his models covered from head to toe in latex and PVC, wearing giant platform boots and inflatable swimsuits,
Pugh rejected conformity and injected art back into the London fashion scene.
The divide between old and new designers hasn’t stopped Londoners from embracing the ground-breaking along with the nostalgic.
Each collection brings something exciting to the table, and it’s less traditional and more experimental. Designers here are
learning about the female form and enjoying the art of design, which makes London extra special.
Gareth Pugh s/s ’07
Preen s/s ’07
Giles s/s ’07
Richard Nicoll s/s ’07
Marios Schwab s/s ’07
Claire Tough s/s ’07