Anarchy in the UK: Last Week in London Fashion

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Published February 27, 2009

 

Looks from Peter Pilotta, Kinder Aggugini

If Fashion Week were a reality TV show and Paris, Milan, New York and London were all living in a kitted-out flat somewhere in East London, London Fashion Week (LFW) would be the ‘sweet beauty with a bad-ass streak’ character—think Kate Moss or Agyness Deyn: elegant and refined at times, with an undeniably graceful accent; but late-night rocking out on the tables of the Hawley Arms with druggy boyfriend in tow.

Last week there was no doubt of London Fashion Week’s reputation for providing color and edge to the month-long run of fashion shows. Hotly tipped labels like Peter Pilotto, Kinder Aggugini, and Meadham Kirchhoff, solidified their reputations, while at Fashion East, London’s next-big-thing barometer, Holly Fulton, Natascha Stolle and Marie Francesca Pepe showed off.

Looks from Meadham Kirchhof

Pilotto is Peter Pilotto and former Vivienne Westwood designer Christopher De Vos, who recently won the new designer award at the Elle Style Awards, presented their fourth London show to a packed venue. The duo combined prints and textures from digital manipulation of photos of fur and reptile skin with soft drapery. Pilotto often talks about his “curiosity cabinet,” and this season he and de Vos pulled out science-inspired delights from their cabinet, including graphic print dresses with signature folds and draping, embellished with shimmering metallic beading, chunky embroidery and styled with leather and mohair thigh-high boots.

Kinder Aggugini was the creative force behind so many major brands—Vivienne Westwood, Huntsman, Paul Smith, Versace, Calvin Klein—for years before finally putting his own name on a label. For Fall/Winter he introduced signatures like polka-dot silk linings, sweet ribbon ties laced into cuffs, tailoring tacks left in place on jackets and coats, and a way with flamboyant floral prints. The contrast between soft and tailored was his mark: razor sharp tailoring of the military jackets and trousers harkened back to the days when Aggugini was supplying fashion editors with bespoke riding redingotes, double-breasted coats, Coco-inspired tweed jackets, and unconventional peacoats; whilst rich hues and whispery dresses, sashed or scarfed, reminded us of Aggugini’s Italian heritage. It was a wonderfully eclectic and sophisticated collection, a Bloomsbury-Bohemian take so natural that it illustrated just how long this Italian designer has lived in London.

“She’s a tough character; and this season she is more introspective, more egoistical,” said Ed Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff of the woman they had in mind while designing their collection Meadham Kirchhoff. Balancing an improbable Rococo-meets-Gothic Americana aesthetic, the duo played with frayed-edge cheesecloth shirting, gold and silver embroidery, conceptually structured bombers, split-knee pants and even Parisian-style striped Breton sweaters. The focus was on construction and Meadham and Kirchhoff’s anatomical approach to fashion finally realized this season, along with the “anti-recession attitude” that they say “most London designers have adopted [this season].”

Looks from Natasha Stolle, Holly Fulton, Maria Francesca Pepe

Meanwhile at Fashion East, London’s incubator for tomorrow’s talent, three up-and-coming designers—Holly Fulton, Natascha Stolle and Maria Francesca Pepe were being cheered on by the likes of stylish singer Róisín Murphy (already a fan of Pepe, along with Deyn and Alice Dellal) and British scribe Suzy Menkes. Directed by Lulu Kennedy, Fashion East has launched the careers of many young designers, including Gareth Pugh, Richard Nicholl, Henry Holland, Marios Schwab and Jonathan Saunders. Fulton’s “razzy, pop, show-offy!” vibe; Pepe’s demure “knowing, pulled-together, androgynous” styles; and Stolle’s “subtle, nonchalant, cool” collection made Kennedy, who was happy to promote “girl power” this season, proud. And what does a seasoned LFW girl like Kennedy think about London’s place in the Fashion Week hierarchy? “In London, people take risks and don’t take themselves too seriously. This season, Giles had this incredible punk girl band called An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump play at his show, and I had drag queen Jonny Woo pretend to be me and host Fashion East!”

Need we say more?