Thursday, 24 February 2011


As a cold New York fashion week came to a close with the LAMB presentation on Thursday, the six most stylish days on London’s calendar began. So far we have glimpsed Lolita dresses teamed with wild Ophelia locks at Charles Anastase, seventies inspired, tweed herringbone at Burberry and metallic leather at Acne. With the infamous Tom Ford bringing his much talked about woman’s presentation to the city, this season London designers have created edgier clothes than the majority of their New York counterparts. Here are three of this season’s early highlights.

Topshop Unique

The Topshop Unique show ensured that dalmatian print will no longer be associated with Cruella De Vil as 101 Dalmatians was certainly the muse for their Autumn/Winter collection. Dalmatian print covered fur coats, heeled boots, jumpsuits and even the lapels on a skirt suit. Hair and make up even fitted with the theme, as the models paraded down the runway with their noses painted and hair tied into ear shaped buns. Alongside this tongue in cheek theme, there was an underlying thirties inspiration to the collection with influences ranging from the black tie glamour of Fred and Ginger to gangster moll pinstripes. As always Unique integrated a number of the most popular trends of the season; lower hemlines, higher necklines and Art Deco inspired pieces. The highlights of the collection were the faux fur coats, elegant tailoring and dalmatian print accessories, all enhanced by Katie Grand’s flawless styling. For those looking for an easier way to wear the latex spots seen at Marc Jacobs, look no further, dalmatians are clearly back.

Margaret Howell

At Margaret Howell the models sauntered out in pale pink brogues with waists nipped in by masculine belts,and jaunty hats to a tinkling jazz soundtrack. The collection was full of Howell’s signature: masculine tailoring with a feminine undertone, creating a quintessentially English, schoolgirl look. This season Howell’s muse was off to a ballet class or horse riding, clad in baggy jodhpurs, delicate mid length skirts and rustic tweeds. The designer used a variety of contrasting fabrics, including sumptuous velvet, soft jersey and chiffon to create a sophisticated, androgynous silhouette. Essential basics which will slot into any wardrobe were included in the collection, such as a camel tailored trench, a silk white tied shirt and a luxurious, corduroy skirt. With long flowing skirts, belted cable knits and structured tweed blazers in subtle hues of maroon (the colour for autumn), khaki, nude, taupe and navy, the collection was Howell at her best, simplistic and elegant.

Christopher Kane

Christopher Kane produced another innovative collection for Autumn/Winter 2011, designing dresses and separates in a variety of unusual fabrics. Tammy Kane stated that the collection’s starting point was to ‘find a textile that has never been used’ and surely enough, the plastic filled with encapsulated liquid that trimmed each dress was certainly novel, particularly as when the models moved it warmed up and began to bubble. This material added a stunning twist to a number of plain shift dresses and was even used for ‘lava lamp‘ clutches (sure to be the bag of the season). The variety of materials used by the designer were inspired by his childhood; the innovative plastic trimming was based on the nineties craze of squidgy, glitter filled pencil cases and the sequined dresses by the carbonated fizz of a Sodastream. As with last season’s fluoro leather lace, for AW11, Kane fearlessly reinvented crotchet, sending out a see through pencil skirt in a geometric version of the fabric no longer to be associated with the elderly.. There are few designers who would describe the ‘sterile, medicinal’ science lab as a source of inspiration, but as always Christopher Kane crossed boundaries to create contemporary designs.

With Anna Wintour and Emanuelle Alt front row, Beth Ditto onstage and Alexa Chung EVERYWHERE, this season London fashion week contained both innovative high fashion and star power, hopefully setting the tone for years to come.

Harriet Tisdall

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