As London Fashion Week drew to a close the search began for concrete trends, season buzz words and other thematic strands to draw the week’s events together. And yet, as always, London defied classification. The diversity of the catwalks has always been what sets the city apart, as presenters took cues from a wide-ranging set of references, from Mary Katrantzou‘s perfume bottle-inspired dresses to top designers’ tactful twists and subtle surprises.
Peter Pilotto, fast becoming a schedule must-see, went back to the very beginning with a collection inspired by the Big Bang theory and a fascination with natural phenomena. This inspiration translated into a taut energy with hard and sharp cuts hitting just above the knee, and a colorway of greens and navy embellished by metallic beading.
Emilio de la Morena dismissed any notion of a new austerity with a show that embraced color and luxury. Gravity-defying wedges by Charlotte Olympia and Maria Francesca Pepe’s full-on jewelry perfectly complemented the Spanish designer’s colorful body-con stretch creations, while panels of silk, gazar and wool displayed his skill for intricate construction along with a series of sculptural jackets inspired by Basque artist Eduardo Chillida.
Amid these impressive outings, the week’s schedule also accommodated a new menswear showcase on the last day. Tim Soar, a master of understated design presented his take on “bittersweet nostalgia” with rubber jackets, aran knits and beautiful quilted pieces (a collaborative effort with Chris Raeburn). B-store was right on target again with a rebel youth collection that included perfectly cut high-waisted trousers for the boys and Prince of Wales check dresses for the girls. Carolyn Massey, a Topman favorite, trawled the National Army Museum archives to create a modern, military look encapsulated by a stunning PVC trench coat.
But what about the big names? Brit designer of the year Luella went punk via Sloane via disheveled rocker chic with a little bit of everything else thrown in for luck. It was, as usual, quirky yet wearable. Accessory stalwart Mulberry once again benefited from shoe designer Jonathan Kelsey’s immense talent in an impressive line of footwear. Meanwhile, Vivienne Westwood’s Red collection was a journey back to school days, giving the classic Brit uniform her characteristic makeover. Paul Smith kept matters relatively sober with a particularly English effort, including familiar and elegant country knits and tweed jackets. And, of course, Christopher Kane’s muted slouch vs. slick collection did nothing to deter his reputation as Britain’s rapidly rising design star.
Among the usual roster of standout individualists, Louise Goldin waxed futuristic, Giles Deacon played up his street-savvy roots, Erdem was characteristically decorative, Roksanda Ilincic channeled ’70s era YSL and Danielle Scutt made a statement with bold silhouettes.
London has demonstrated a strong commitment to innovation and individuality. If one over arching message is to be found, it is one of unwavering creativity.