While Milan now commands attention as a headline-grabbing axis, the fashionable sprint of Fashion weeks kick-started designer looks for spring 2014 in New York, before landing in London. SO spotlights our favourite three designer collections from London Fashion Week, which wrapped last Tuesday.
Nottingham, in the U K's Midlands, was once the centre of the world's lace production. Now, there's a sleeping giant waiting for Christopher Bailey to give it a good poke. Which he duly did with his latest collection. If his promotion of Nottingham lace also seemed like an advertisement for the biggest underpants known to womankind, that was merely one of the more logical facets of his celebration of the English Rose, a woman who probably couldn't give a good goddamn about thongs and such. So there was something of that sturdy stereotype, the vicar's wife, in the way that Bailey laid a cashmere cardi-maybe with the sleeves knotted interestingly in back-over a lace skirt. And here comes the sexy librarian in her polka-dot blouse and high-waist pencil skirt.
The voluminous, soft-shoulder outerwear in which he swathed his models hinted at nothing underneath-or so suggested Bailey. His time spent brooding on erstwhile inspiration Christine Keeler has clearly left a residual appreciation of subliminal erotica. In the madhouse that swirled around him after the show, Bailey claimed he wanted to celebrate strong women rather than the bloodless wraiths who have often haunted the Burberry catwalk. There was indeed something ample, shapely, generous about the silhouettes here. It made for a substantial showing from Bailey. And he gratifyingly showed that he appreciates the thorn in the English Rose: Cara Delevingne wore latex for her finale.
— Tim Blanks, www.style.com
Being a filmmaker, a storyteller 'n' all, Tom Ford surely appreciates the classical Icarus-like dimensions of his autobio. But Icarus wasn't a phoenix. Tom is.
He clearly purged himself of any of the Am-I-still-me? insecurities of new fatherhood with the I'm-still-me blowout of his fall collection, so this latest offering was, in a way, a clean slate, which he set about dirtying with the sexed-up diligence that defined his finest hours way back when. Just check Josephine Skriver, the Sharon Tate du jour in Ford's pantheon of model goddesses. Her first look: a tank in black leather net over a suggestion of skirt in a black leather lattice. Her second: a pailletted micro-sheath with the serpentine shimmer of a Klimt painting.
Key motifs in the collection were fractured mirrors and spidery lace. Given Ford's other job, they were unsurprisingly cinematic (let's say German expressionist) and maybe more difficult than the rather gorgeous broad-shoulder blazer in brown leather that opened the show. But that is the kind of dichotomy that defines Tom Ford-laser-eyed commerce here, lascivious indulgence there. Which sounds like a perfect formula for success in our cut-loose era.
— Tim Blanks, www.style.com
Vivienne West Red Label
Vivienne Westwood often uses her Red Label show as a springboard to talk about climate change, and her catwalk presentation was no exception. At the beginning, a figure hunkered down in the centre of the square stage underneath a red spotlight, with wild hair and a full-length dress vaguely classical in feeling, draped and dusted all over with white powder. She began to dance. The figure turned out to be Lily Cole, who interpreted a passage from Hans Christian Andersen's The Red Shoes: Once the girl in the story has been seduced and taken over by the red shoes, they dance her to death. After that the show began.
The models all emerged in similar white make-up, a look later described by Westwood as "like an animal trapped in the headlights, trying to flee and trapped". Westwood's clothing for Red Label was somewhat more conventional in feeling. There was a vague nature motif -- a great, intense recurring floral photoprint that looked particularly good on a slouchy silk jumpsuit tied at the knees with scarves -- but the point of Red Label is that it is about practical, timeless Westwood pieces rather than overly disposable fashion. As always, there were many standout items: the photoprint floral dresses; a gunmetal chain-mail trench and trousers; high-waisted, knee-length shorts with a halter fastening like braces; the always-excellent striped cotton shirting and shirtdress. The message of Red Label abides by Westwood's personal maxim that she reiterated says to the executioner, "Come out, come out! I cannot come in, for I must dance."
— Jo-Ann Furniss, www.style.com