London Fashion Week Looks To The Future

Change was in the air at London Fashion Week with designers, retailers and techno-geeks all showing off a new direction for fashion. Whether that meant 21st century gadget gaming or stunning runway diversity, London’s latest series of collections were all about moving forward without a second glance back.

As arguably the biggest story at London Fashion Week, Burberry in 3-D had as much to do with consumption as it did with clothing. The decision to simultaneously broadcast its latest collection in 3-D to select editors and live stream the show to anyone with an internet connection proved to be both canny and innovative. The strategy was akin to a flash sale, enabling consumers to order sought after pieces—collared shearlings, military parkas, fitted pea coats—online over a limited, three-day time period. Even if this futuristic experience doesn’t catch on, Burberry has nevertheless established itself as a vanguard in the burgeoning, increasingly inclusive realm of fashion-fueled technology.

Henry Holland has already gotten in touch with the digital age as a Vogue blogger and prolific Twitter user, but the designer also tapped into 21st century possibilities with a new BlackBerry app. The latest feature allows users to select and purchase from among his eight-piece collection of slogan-emblazoned t-shirts, months ahead of their in-store arrival.

Vivienne Westwood, Roksanda Ilincic and Marios Schwab, meanwhile, showed off London’s runway diversity—a feature that’s particularly unique to the British capital city. Suzy Menkes, fashion editor for the International Herald Tribune, aptly noted: “this is the only fashion center where different nationalities appear naturally on the runways, rather than as a token offering.” The contrast between the kinds of models seen at London Fashion Week and those found in New York—and likely Milan later this week—was indeed glaring.

London’s runway isn’t just about diversity but also international range, as evidenced in the “unorthodox casting” buzz surrounding Mark Fast’s combination of both curvy and pin-thin models at his show. The designer’s capsule collection for Topshop, set to bow in March, will undoubtedly provide him with a fair amount of non-model-related exposure—particularly in the US. The same can be said of venerable British retailer Liberty, which is slated for an upcoming collaboration with Target, replete with housewares and apparel featuring the store’s signature prints.

Erdem and Christopher Kane both showed a darkly feminine take as the former used a muted palette with faint metallics and the latter opted for obscure shades with bleak floral embroidery. Flower prints also appeared in Meadham Kirchhoff’s Indian princess-inspired showcase that also drew on competing textures for an eclectic effect. Holly Fulton echoed some of the same eye-catching aesthetic with dominating colors that were punctured with unmissable details, while Aquascutum opted for the subdued refinement of simple black, white and gray pieces tied together with unbuckled belts to a subtly sophisticated end.

Mix-and-match was also prevalent with Michael Van Der Ham mixing up mohair, sheer and satin textures in an otherwise clean-scrubbed look and Louise Gray combining bright patchwork displays and layered fabrics. Mary Katrantzou took a different kind of approach to the aesthetic with boldly printed fabrics that were variously cut into asymmetrical lines and featured ruffled embellishments or quirky tailoring. And, of course, Peter Pilotto managed to combine all the pervading touches of clashing fabrics and attention-grabbing monochromes for a collection that was vaguely futuristic but very down to Earth.

And in a precursor to Milan’s upcoming fashion spotlight, Italy stole the stage a few days early to celebrate another Liberty partnership: 10 Corso Como’s Spring capsule collection of scarves, wallets and bikinis—perusable online now sans apps, mannequins or 3-D glasses.

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