London Fashion Week closes after flurry of shows
By SYLVIA HUI
LONDON — There were bursts of sunshine yellow, blooms evoking tropical gardens, and lots of pastel confections: As the rest of us unpack our warm coats and hunker down for the wintry season, the fashion elite are already looking ahead to the trends for the spring shown at London Fashion Week.
The 5-day style event wound down Tuesday after a whirlwind of next season’s womenswear preview shows, from the commercially driven big fashion houses like Burberry Prorsum, Tom Ford and Paul Smith to young and emerging talents such as Peter Pilotto and Christopher Kane.
Although London is known for being the most eclectic and unpredictable of the fashion capitals, there were a few themes that emerged from the dozens of runways. Romance was in the air for many designers, with many catwalks awash in pretty pastels, petal appliques and floral prints and embellishments. All shades of pink were popular.
Temperley London went for the kind of classic old Hollywood glamor it relishes, with grand silk ball gowns and matching opera coats in shades of rose, powdery carnation pink, and rich fuchsias, while at Burberry feminine sheer lace pencil dresses in sugary pastels were worn with soft cashmere sweaters and coats for a sophisticated and sexy look. Preen chose to feature a bright neon pink, which appeared on plastic and rubberized dresses and raincoats.
Volume was big, too, with many trapeze shapes and floor-sweeping gowns and wide-leg trousers seen at shows including Mulberry and Erdem.
This being London, many designers were impossible to fit into any talk of trends. Vivienne Westwood produced a collection featuring her signature draped dresses and tailored separates, though those designs were sidelined by a modern dance performance with an environmentalist message by model Lily Cole.
Christopher Kane, known for his quirky and imaginative designs, showed futuristic dresses that looked like they could be Star Trek costumes and floral prints that looked like biology text book illustrations.
Bay Garnett, a stylist for British Vogue, said that Kane and Meadham Kirchhoff, which showed Tuesday, stood out as two of her highlights of the week because they were so creative. “It’s so imaginative. It’s the kind of eclecticism, the kind of spirit of Britishness, I think,” she said.
Asked which looks she expected to see copied in shops in spring, she said: “I haven’t gotten that far yet. I’m just looking around and taking in the ideas.”
Many in attendance must be thinking the same, as they pack up and head for two more weeks of preview shows in Milan and Paris.
ADIDAS BY STELLA MCCARTNEY
McCartney ditched the catwalk and took her audience to the gym instead for her new season sportswear collection for Adidas.
The British designer had her models wear cropped sweatshirts, stretch bodysuits and daisy print shorts in bright yellow, aqua and tropical lime as they danced, cycled and performed aerial yoga.
A team of four synchronized swimmers sporting black bathing suits with side cutouts even put on a performance in a small swimming tank.
“I love it. They are amazing. It’s not the kind of thing you see at London Fashion Week is it?” McCartney said.
McCartney, who showcases her main womenswear collection in Paris, has been designing high-performance sports gear for Adidas since 2005. Her brand got a big boost in international recognition last year when she won plaudits for her Union Jack-inspired designs for Britain’s home team at the 2012 London Olympics.
“Some people just wear black on black, put their head down and get on with their sport and then get changed,” she told The Associated Press. “To me this is a celebration of who you are when you’re working out, and not sacrificing in any way your style.”
Anglo-French design duo Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff’s show rounded off the week with a typically theatrical collection that mashed up Victorian lace, beautifully tailored blazers, whimsical apron dresses and lots of quirky accessories.
Set to a soundtrack more fitting for a horror movie — heart beat pumping, the sound of scissors snipping and other disturbing noises — the designers sent out models in doll-like blouses and slips, wide brim hats and polka-dot chiffon dresses. Shiny, oversized leather coats in black, gold or snakeskin and gloves that reach up to the shoulders added to the artfully chaotic mood.
Meadham Kirchhoff has a big fan base among the fashion crowd for their creative and uncompromising designs, but several pieces here — like the intricately embellished gold pleat skirt and the black blazers that opened the show — are also surprisingly wearable.
Sylvia Hui can be reached at http://twitter.com/sylviahui
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