Although Somerset House is still filled with fashionistas with the Fashion Weekend going on, the London Fashion Week is now officially over.
This season ended on the same sombre note as it opened, with a farewell, the funeral of Lee Alexander McQueen on Thursday 25th at St Paul’s Church in Knightsbridge, West London. The designer, found hanged at his Mayfair house just a few days before the fashion week started, was the darling of the fashion world and his death has without a doubt cast a shadow over the fashion week. Tributes were paid all along to the genius who “made women look and feel powerful”, according to the Times. The same edition, on 12th February, also quoted Anna Wintour, US Vogue’s Editor who scarcely needs an introduction. Calling McQueen “one of the greatest talents of his generation”, she also said: “He brought a uniquely British sense of daring and aesthetic fearlessness to the global stage of fashion. In such a short career, Alexander McQueen’s influence was astonishing – from street style to music culture and the world’s museums. His passing marks an insurmountable loss.”
Known for his impeccable tailoring and theatrical catwalk shows, Alexander McQueen had not presented a collection in London since 2001 but his achievements, creations and incredible career most certainly influenced the new generation of designers and contributed to make London one of the most creative and authoritative fashion capitals.
On the fringes of the catwalks, the fashion week was also an occasion for this new generation of talented designers to show their A/W 2010 collections at Somerset House, from 19th to 23rd February. Spread across four floors, the Designer Exhibition included accessories, ready-to-wear, installations, but also the Lingerie Boudoir, the NewGen exhibition sponsored by Topshop, estethica and the new Digital Presentation Space. Lots of stunning collections were on display – here are a few highlights… Let me add first that it’s an understatement to say that this season clearly confirm the major trends launched last September for Spring/Summer 2010: nude tones, lingerie as outerwear, classicism, structured garments, military jackets and statement necklaces!
The Lingerie Boudoir
From champagne silk and delicate lace to colourful prints and more unusual fabrics, to very cute and er, inventive sextoys, this place was truly like girls heaven! My biggest crush was for Nichole de Carle’s collection. Her exquisite lingerie embodies a strong design signature inspired by literature, history and architecture. You can immediately see that architecture is very present in her creations indeed, through the interlaced bold and delicate lines that seem to build a glamorous framework around the body.
The Opal collection is directly inspired by four architectural masterpiece icons located in the four fashion capitals of the world: The Louvre in Paris, The Duomo in Milan, Westminster Abbey in London and the Chrysler Building in New York. The Louvre range, with luxurious soft triangle bra and mini brief with delicate lace, fine silk and plaited elastic reflects the innovative design of the Louvre: the modern design of the double inverted pyramid structure with rhombus shaped glass panels, juxtaposed with the classic formal architecture of the original building. This range also connects the Opal collection to the Onyx concept, following on the Da Vinci Code theme.
The Onyx collection focuses on architecture in the book, as well as the essence of mystery behind the story. The Romanesque architecture of the Templar Fortress for instance, masterminded by the Knights Templar as a tribute to feminity, with its curves and chambers, is perfectly captured in the detailed and technical corsetry of the range, whilst Chateau de Villette’s exquisite staircase is mimicked in the design at the back of the bra and the symmetry of the surrounding gardens built into the exceptional style.
Architecture and lingerie, what else?
Other remarkable lingerie collections included:
Ayten Gasson: this London-based designer uses the finest vintage lace, which she sources locally from the old lace mills in Nottingham, some dating back over 30 years! Going back to the roots of the British fashion industry, she took inspiration from the luxury of regency monarchy to create her new A/W 2010 collection. New additions to the collection are notably a striking limited edition silk range combining black silk satin with a beautiful Liberty print silk and the Elizabeth range, a breathtaking olive silk collection trimmed with vintage lace and delicate ribbon bows. I also particularly had a crush on the Catherine range, with classic navy blue silk and cream vintage lace!
Beautiful Bottoms: in quite a different style from the above, designers Poppy Sexton-Wainwright and Lauren Skerritt have created a range of delicate yet vibrant intimates. Designed in pure silk georgette, the line of enchanting knickers and bras reflects their love of printed silks and can also be worn as outerwear.
Close to the Lingerie Boudoir, in one of the Navy Board Rooms, was Irwin & Jordan. The brand, whom makes Leonardo da Vinci’s famous quote “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” its own, mixes Savile Row tailoring, contemporary designs and heritage fabrics to create a unique look where classicism flirts with androgynous charm. I was really impressed with the impeccable cut and drape of all the pieces, as well as with the quality and touch of the fabrics used: incredibly soft washed leather, silk, delicate lace and grey marl jersey. This season, Irwin & Jordan also introduces two limited edition silk dresses that feature two definitive butcher turned artist Mark Demsteader’s characters, the blonde and the brunette, personifying Irwin & Jordan.
Spanish brand Martin Lamothe presented Mud Eaters, its A/W collection inspired by the macabre but romantic world of Marcel Dzama, a young Canadian artist living in New York. The collection, for which the designer collaborated with other artists, takes you directly to Dzama’s drawings, populated with a cast of human, animal and hybrid creatures including college boys and girls, terrorists, soldiers, dancers and half-naked creatures. It mixes a college coloured palette in silk with raw, dirty, dark and textured leather. Among the key pieces, a crochet in silver, gold and copper chains, hand stitched to pleated tulle, developed by Mercedes Fernandez Mesa and a kind of leather and raw wool creature-jacket hand woven by Sara Galofre.
London-based designer Eugene Lin launched his debut womenswear collection in 2009 and already encountered a great success. His A/W 2010 collection is directly inspired by the Greek myth of the Gordian Knot, referenced in Shakespeare’s Henry V. The silhouettes are deeply feminine, structured and refined. Sumptuous dresses and jackets feature intricately draped and knotted details, in a harmony of black and grey tones with a touch of vibrant red, and luxurious fabrics. Lin’s pieces, like the Beverly jacket or the divine Bathsheba dress, will make every woman feel like a goddess!
Fiona Paxton’s jewellery takes inspiration from geometric patterning and this season it has moved into a three dimensional format. Exaggerated architectural forms added further inspiration. Hand beading remains an important part of the collection, as well as signature chains fringing and looping. The whole collection is a unique fusion of ancient Eastern beading technique and modern design. To me, key pieces include the Fia silver & oxidised lariat, the Quennie and Lauren gold necklaces and the Mari silver & oxidised necklace.
First things first, a big crush for a jewellery designer, London-based Philippa Kunish, whose collections are particularly remarkable by their splendid array of colour and designs that range from exquisite delicacy to bold fashion pieces,like the Knotted necklace in white, the gorgeous L.Chime necklace (which my heart belongs to since we met last Monday) in coral or the Wrap necklace in blue. Even better, every piece is hand-made in London and the materials used are sourced from all over the world, many of them found on the designer’s travels. Philippa Kunish’s incredibly beautiful creations can be found at Susy Harper shop at 35, Camden Passage and at the General Trading Company, both in London – and soon on her website.
In the hat department, if you enjoy story-telling pieces, fun and eccentricity, welcome to Piers Atkinson‘s. The AW2010 collection, “It Is Later Than You Think”, is almost the antithesis of the previous collection, “Sex on the Brain”, with the glitter berets and giant bright red cherries headbands. Yesterday’s bride-to-be, with her physical exuberance and lustful frivolity, is today’s Weeping Widow, respectfully obscured by ultra-chic monotones, ornamental veiling and beading. But it’s not that sad, really… Glass crocodile tears are sewn into veils but so too are alluring, and unexpected, beauty spots.
Felt berets, pillboxes and hair bands are worked with leather, antique lace and tulle. Trimmings include veiling, plumage, sequins and beading. Sober Ebony, Storm Grey, Nude and Volcanic ash are lifted by metallic glints in Chrome, Jet and Gunmetal with an occasional splash of Guillotine Red. Make note, however, that a lone piece in Half-Mourning Mauve reminds us Spring is on its bountiful way… or so says the designer.
Christopher Raeburn, as for him, constructs innovative and contemporary clothing from re-appropriated military materials. Made of fabrics sourced from de-commissioned military stock and re-designed to create beautifully crafted, ethically intelligent garments, all Raeburn products are limited edition and proudly remade in England. The A/W 2010 collection focuses on the concepts of functionality, layering and preparedness. Utilising original fabrics from British battle dress jackets, camouflage ponchos, Swedish snow cotton and battered Italian leather military jackets, Raeburn creates a contemporary yet intrinsically layered with history Winter collection, designed to withstand everyday extremes.
Among the key brands present were also Holly Fulton, Ada Zanditon, Maria Francesca Pepe, David Koma, Peter Pilotto, Maria Katrantzou, Louise Gray, KTZ, Fannie Schiavoni…
The BFC’s eco-sustainable initiative sponsored by Monsoon was in its seventh season and now a collective of 28 designers and brands, mostly using recycled materials.
goodone, for instance, uses recycled fabrics. The label has developed a design method allowing them to create an unlimited amount of new clothing from discarded fabrics, mass-producing the one-off by uniquely combining colours, patterns and textures. For this new season, they have introduced new textiles such as cashmere off-cuts and end-of-roll British knit. The collection include gorgeous body-hugging dresses with quilted hips and shaping side panels and sumptuous crochet body and dress.
Fabrics featured within Beautiful Soul’s collection are also recycled and/or from responsible sources. The brand prides itself in combining the most indulgent vintage fabrics with sustainable alternatives. Whilst vintage kimonos remain a central aspect, this third collection sees the introduction of British wool from a rare breed of Shetland sheep sourced from Izzy Lane.
Annika Sanders and Kerry Seager, the designers behind Junky Styling, recycle best quality second hand clothing, deconstruct, re-cut and transform them into a new product that belies the former identity of the raw material. Not only can most of their creations be worn in many different ways, but Junky Styling also offers a wardrobe surgery service for customers to bring in their favourite but out of date or a bit damaged garments, to be re-worked into a new made-to-measure designer creation. And they even make them participate in the design process!
And don’t forget, for the Parisians who didn’t attend the LFW: the A/W 2010 collections of a selection of emerging design talents such as Mark Fast, Mary Katrantzou, Holly Fulton, Todd Lynn, Christopher Raeburn, MariaFrancesca Pepe, House of Holland and a few others will be presented and sold from Friday 5th to Friday 12th March at London Show Rooms in Paris – 40, rue de Richelieu in the 1st arrondissement.
Nichole de Carle- www.nicholedecarle.com / Ayten Gasson – www.aytengasson.com / Beautiful Bottoms – www.beautifulbottoms.co.uk / Irwin & Jordan – www.irwinandjordan.com / Martin Lamothe – www.martinlamothe.es / Eugene Lin – www.eugene-lin.com / Fiona Paxton – www.fiona-paxton.com / Philippa Kunish – www.philippakunish.co.uk / Piers Atkinson – www.piersatkinson.com / Christopher Raeburn – www.christopherraeburn.co.uk / goodone – www.goodone.co.uk / Beautiful Soul – www.beautiful-soul.co.uk / Junky Styling – www.junkystyling.co.uk