Wearable Meets Avant-Garde at LFW

Published February 20, 2014

Wearable. There’s a term that’s not often associated with the eclectic, avant-garde London Fashion Week scene. But for Fall, it fits. Though the capital still buzzed with innovation and individuality, this season saw a surge in surprisingly classic, beautifully crafted clothes that felt sophisticated, easy and quite frankly, grown-up. From Christopher Kane‘s masterful twist on the tailored pant-suit, to Simone Rocha’s ornate yet timeless parade of waist-cinching little black dresses, it seems that this season, the modern woman gets what she really, really wants.

Seoul-born talent Jackie JS Lee kicked off the week’s proceedings with an assured line up of sharp, simple silhouettes that were born out of “a need to escape.” “I imagined what it would be like to go camping,” she remarked backstage, pointing to the subtle tire-print motifs that ran across flyway chiffon midi skirts, casual cotton sweaters, and, most impressively, satin duster coats. Outerwear was also a highlight at Eudon Choi later that day, where checked-wool capes, shaggy fur coats, and forgiving pin-stripe trenches tuned into a swinging ‘60s vibe; topped off by teased bee-hive ‘dos.

Elsewhere, it was impossible not to be wooed by the work of bright young thing, Graham Fan, who made a memorable debut in the Central Saint Martins MA show. In fashion, everyone loves a curveball, and here it was, served in the form of structured swing skirts and chunky turtlenecks woven from black and pewter threads that unraveled and looped to form a fuzzy, 3-D texture that shimmered like tinsel under the stark runway lights.

Texture play was also on the cards for Holly Fulton, who amped up her signature Art Deco prints with lavish horn and crystal embroideries. “I was considering the mechanics of running a business,” she said of the theme that morning. “I wanted to create something more grown-up this time.” Model of the moment, Rosie Tapner looked especially elegant in Fulton’s finale look—a lipstick-red sweater and full, printed prom skirt with an embroidered tulle overlay.

Roksanda Ilincic followed a similar thread and presented a collection on Oxford Street’s vast Old Sorting Office that, “explored the interplay between the industrial and the feminine.” Key notes included patchwork coats (a big trend for the upcoming season), printed midi-length dresses and pointed brogues that will look just as good with those asymmetric A-line skirts as they will with her crepe flood-length pants.

But, if Ilincic was strictly business, then Burberry Prorsum was all pleasure, as Christopher Bailey marked the changing seasons with a free-spirited collection inspired by the bohemian garb of the ‘20s Bloomsbury set. The British designer is well versed in seducing his audience by sight and sound, and this season was no different. Models sauntered down the runway to a swirling, water-colored backdrop in hand-painted floral trenches, monogrammed ponchos and belted silk dresses to the lilting sounds of Ed Hardcoart, Rhodes, and Paloma Faith, who played live at the label’s Kensington Garden showspace.

And then there was Christopher Kane, the standout of the week and most certainly the hottest ticket. You could literally feel the anticipation in the air at 180 The Strand, as editors and buyers decked out in the Scotsman’s greatest style hits (lava clutches, neon lace skirts, “petal” logo sweaters) waited with baited breath to see what the golden boy had whipped up for the winter months.

First came a series of slim and slouchy black pantsuits—a chic, commercial nod to his new financial backers, Kering. This gave way to feminine black leather skirts offset with acid-lemon crocheted Victoriana knits, followed by marshmallow-pink satin shifts cut with undulating ribbon sleeves. Not forgetting the incredible tiered ivory and pale-rose, organza cocktail dresses that shimmied down the runway to close the show; those were the pieces that really got the iPhones flashing.

Rounding off the week was Meadham Kirchhoff, which was housed in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall with an Alice and Wonderland-esque set, dedicated to the launch of their debut fragrance Tralala. “It took us six fucking years to get that scent right,” confessed Ed Meadham pre-show. Girls in intricate lace and velvet patchwork dresses and luxe boucle skirt-suits stomped through glitzy gold streamers and kitsch, heart-shaped doors. Granted, the collection retained an element of the off-kilter Victoriana edge we have come to expect from the duo, but overall the collection felt elegant, romantic and deliciously accessible. Bravo, London.

For more of our coverage from London Fashion Week, click here.