Old Norse folklore, Victoriana and red carpet-ready jumpsuits at Anya Hindmarch, David Koma, Preen and Temperley.
Despite the specter of Brexit over the industry here, London Fashion Week has been uncharacteristically quiet this season (bar the anti-fur protestors outside the main tents and their accompanying throngs of policemen). Without a celebrity to be seen and with the party scene relatively unengaging, it's been time for a serious focus on the clothes, which kicked off with Anya Hindmarch on Sunday — the queen of novelty set design and unexpected choreography.
Although the designer has moved away from full-on gimmicks (earlier collections entirely based around street signs, smiley faces and 90’s British high street store logos, for example), she still loves a theme.
Today’s was “old Norse folklore,” and we were transported via a geometric, light-up mountain with models zig-zagging their way up and down a vertical set. As we first saw for spring, 2017 has brought us a more grown-up Hindmarch. The designer is honing her ready-to-wear skills, trying to transition from an accessories-only brand.
Leather motifs were appliqued across the backs of swinging wool capes, and a cropped trench was punched up and modernized with embellished epaulettes. Chic little knitted shorts, paired with fair isle sweaters, fine-knit grey socks, and furry clogs made for a good break from the party-wear we've seen so much of this fashion week.
Tiny polar bear-shaped bags were worn high around the neck, a la a St. Bernard smuggling brandy. Her best-selling fried egg fur slippers and a glittery emoji backpack made brief appearances, which felt slightly at odds with the rest of the show. This is likely because they are the brand's bread and butter — Hindmarch currently puts so little clothing into production it's likely only the coats will be available for purchase in stores. We can only hope after this show, her clothing best-yet, the brand will have a larger ready-to-wear buy.
Design duo Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi of Preen by Thornton Bregazzi have been a mainstay of London Fashion Week since their return from New York in 2012, but only in the last few seasons have they really honed their aesthetic to become a guaranteed favorite show. They especially excel in winter, their coats a much-loved hit for street style stars. Sunday's show brought their signature contrast of ever-so-slightly punky irreverence and gentle femininity.
Victoriana ran heavily through the collection, with corsets bonded over dresses, high necklines in ruffled sheer tulle, and Argyll knits under tight boned bodices. Speaking of boning, it structured tartan strapless dresses into pointed 80s off-the-shoulder numbers, which alongside pink and red ruched airy frocks formed a solid effort in formal wear.
The accessories were exceptional too, as painted florals adorned leather backpacks and long ribbon earrings came embroidered with the words sister, mother, daughter, in the most subtle nod to the feminist movement we've seen so far.
David Koma made his name with tubular embellishment on structured party dresses, putting him on the map as a red carpet name even in his earliest days on the London schedule. This collection showed the aforementioned tubes in a tougher, cooler way, in the form of glittering bullet cases affixed to heavy wool military coats.
It was a nice departure to see the designer take a spin at day wear, as the real standout pieces of the show were the trousers, including gabardine flares and tuxedo pants with harness-like details down the sides. A khaki bra built into a top, built into a skirt that formed a dress that continued the trend we've seen already this week of separates meshing into one piece.
The finale looks were the standard evening wear in which Koma trades so well, but the skater skirts and heavy crystals felt a little tired after the strength of the earlier looks.
Continuing the heavy crystal embellishment we've seen at nearly every show so far, the ever-ethereal Alice Temperley had a few stand out looks. But before they could appear, out came the traditional tapestry work the designer just can't seem to leave behind. The first few looks could have been lifted straight from her last season, in fact, as we're fairly positive we've seen them already at least once.
That aside, the jumpsuits marked a strong departure for the designer with one of the most loyal clienteles in London. The first, a plunging, wide-legged phosphorescent blue sequined one would be well served a turn at an awards show. But the true interest came in the pink velvet jumpsuit with pleated chiffon cuffs, and the high-necked, again Victorian-inspired gleaming pale pink number on Arizona Muse, who looked like she was headed to a 1920’s sleepover at Studio 54. If anything, the show was a little disjointed, a little all over the place in its inspiration, but this is a designer who wants to at once keep her die-hard fans happy while keeping up with the rest of the industry.
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