Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

The best and worst of London Fashion Week

From lavish show-off venues to tardy popstars, the autumn 2013 London shows have produced plenty of highlights

A model walks the runway during the Vivienne Westwood Red Label show during London Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2013/14
A model walks the runway during the Vivienne Westwood Red Label show during London Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2013/14

The capital’s younger talents delved into the past at the final day of London Fashion Week.

Simone Rocha, 26, daughter of the designer John, is used to having her audience make the connection, but she introduced two more family members this season, citing both of her grandmothers as inspiration. In her autumn 2013 collection, Rocha took classic and slightly tired feminine stereotypes from the Fifties and Sixties – such as tweedy skirt suits and princess coats – and reinvented them in patent leather and “Pepto-Bismol pink”, glittering lurex threads and fur panelling on sheer tulle.

There were witty touches too in apron-front skirts, bustled minis and dress with swagged panniers made from Aertex-esque water mesh. Entitled “Respect Your Elders”, this collection was as dynamic and diverting as it was deferential.

Also in a nostalgic mood, Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff showed an almost entirely monochrome collection that felt at times puritanical, Edwardian and austere but included languid Thirties-era pieces and had in black vinyl (something of a major trend this week) a darker S&M flavour.

“It was about being perfect,” Kirchhoff said after the show. “About aiming for everything to be perfect, and about being perfectly dressed.”

Precision and expertise showed through in elegantly picked broderie on starched white cotton dresses with piecrust collars, ruffs and pilgrim yokes, and rubber skirts made from hundreds of punched petals.

Meadham Kirchhoff’s consistently strong blend of the avant-garde with the accessible, in collections that thrill but also sell, make it one of the most exciting labels on the schedule.

So while some designers are sweeping up all the Champagne corks and others are scratching their heads and wondering what went wrong, The Independent fashion team brings you some of the highlights of the autumn 2013 London shows.

Villain of the week: Rihanna

As the fashion pack crushed in to watch Rihanna unveil her collection for River Island, there was nary a thought for poor Thomas Tait, the young designer whose limelight the superstar well and truly stole when her show was scheduled against his. But, in a nice case of “the good will out”, Rihanna’s show started almost an hour late, much to the annoyance of the by this time crotchety attendees, while Tait’s collection was roundly acclaimed by those who saw it.

Harriet Walker

Food of the week: L’Wren Scott

It’s a myth that the style press don’t like to eat. Anyone witnessing the vulture-like swooping at the Topshop venue – which is known as the best caterer of the London calendar by offering up breakfast lunch and afternoon tea daily in snack size portions – would be testament to that. While Monday’s breakfast of fried cheese and ham toasties satisfied bellies, Topshop got gazumped by L’Wren Scott who treated her guests to a seated mid-show meal. Tucking in to their lamb-shank shepherd’s pie with green leaf and walnut salad front row were Anna Wintour, Mick Jagger and Daphne Guinness. 

Gemma Hayward

Unlikely trend of the week: transparency

All over the catwalks, designers were showing everybody their, er, fashion credentials in gossamer-fine sheer and see-through fabrics. At Jonathan Saunders, the trend bounced and jiggled in eye-catching tulle corset dresses, while Erdem and Marios Schwab at least cast their transparents like mosquito nets over marabou trim dresses and beaded sheaths, to better preserve your modesty should you decide to try out the look down the pub.

Harriet Walker

Hero of the week: Richard Nicoll

Plaudits and praise are being heaped at the feet of Richard Nicoll after he presented an eminently wearable collection, and rightly so – as one of the nicest men in fashion it couldn’t have happened to a more worthy fellow. The clothes themselves, centred around the evolution of a day, included herringbone and crocodile patterned knits, cashmere tailored jackets, and a sexy patent leather mac in greys and blues, and all with a dose of masculine elegance before more cocktail inspired pieces in an orange sherbert came out. Nicoll’s recently launched menswear arm is obviously having impact on his work – not least in his outerwear and tailoring – and it is all the better for it.

Rebecca Gonsalves

Moment of the week: Burberry

As any Brit knows, the weather is the one thing that can’t be relied on – even when it’s under the control of uber-brand Burberry. And so, instead of attempting to top the show-ending meteorological extravaganzas of the last few seasons, which have seen the elements brought inside the brand’s specially constructed tent in Kensington Gardens, a house-check embossed backdrop slowly opened mid-show to reveal up-and-coming singer/songwriter Tom Odell tinkling the ivories. Supported by a choir, Odell crooned as Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn and Karlie Kloss walked the catwalk in a raunchy, rubberised take on the house’s traditions.

Rebecca Gonsalves

Venue of the week: Tom Ford at Lancaster House

Previously Tom Ford has chosen to show his collection in intimate settings to small numbers of select press, but this time show-time was show-off for the Texan designer. The venue in question for Monday’s show was Lancaster House, a neo-classical style mansion close to St James’s Palace in west London, built in 1825 and used as a location in the film The King’s Speech. Fires roared outside the pillared entrance which was lined with immaculately suited male models. The grand Georgian staircase was decorated with the largest lavender-coloured flower arrangement imaginable – and yet more male models – and show goers were treated to gin and tonics on the way up.

Gemma Hayward

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