The Monday shows in London looked to Africa for aesthetic influence—colonial, tribal and everything in between. Aquascutum and Paul Smith in particular took the theme to heart with standout collections that incorporated thematic ideals with each label’s traditional aesthetic.
For s/s ’10, Aquascutum offered a sophisticated take on all things summery. A collection centered around long lengths and muted colors, the show was about grown up, classic pieces that don’t yell for attention but instead catch the eye with sheer elegance and strength. In an interesting contrast to the kind of playful, in-your-face youthfulness that seems to dominate much of the season’s dressing, Aquascutum catered to the idea of refined high society on vacation. Whether envisioning safaris in Kenya or a trip to the Raj, the quintessentially British label conjured up images of first class train travel, leather trunks and long letters home with safari-inspired jackets, silk bucket hats, wide leg rolled cuff pants, trouser suits and long sweeping silk gowns in smudged dot prints. Frills featured heavily on the label’s classic trenchcoats as well as on blouses and dresses. Colors were confined to subdued hues: cream, soft beige, khaki and mustard yellow. If one point was to be taken from Aquascutum’s wonderfully low-key collection, it’s that long length could be next summer’s big thing.
In sharp contrast, Paul Smith took inspiration from the Congo in the form of the dapper Sapeurs, the brightly dressed sartorialists whose obsession with sharp tailoring and eye busting color is the stuff of legend. The first look out, a bright pink trouser suit teemed with orange bowler and the most beautiful red brogues, was simply par for the course. Aside from the odd block color suit, the bold opener was followed by more sober and decidedly more feminine outfits: multicolored stripes against checks, rouched skirts and dresses, draping alongside bandeau style tops. A strong African element in the hair, shapes and daring use of color made for an incredibly optimistic collection that beautifully brought together masculine tailoring with deconstructed feminine lines.
Giles Deacon focused on accessories this season, as the Portico rooms in Somerset House played host to the impressive line of sparkle and shine. The heavy, complex necklaces comprised of silver balls, swarovski crystals, chains and various other jewels were particularly impressive and the cutesy insect rings are sure to go down in a storm. The full collection will be taking to the catwalk in Paris.