Summer may be well and truly over in London — but the fashion crowd is already looking forward to what’s hot next spring. Jasper Conran, Julien Macdonald and Emilia Wickstead were among the labels showcasing their new season collections on the second day of London Fashion Week, which also saw Versus by Versace return to the event. Here are some of Saturday’s highlights:
SUMMERY STRIPES AT JASPER CONRAN
An autumnal chill is in the air, but for 15 minutes everyone at Jasper Conran’s show enjoyed a mini holiday in sunnier climes.
The British designer evoked a romantic summer escapade with a cool collection of crisp shirtdresses, flowing kaftans, elegant ankle-length A-line skirts and pinafores, all worn with flat nude sandals, carefree tote bags and unfussy up-dos. The shapes were modern and minimal, letting the giant gingham checks and geometric pleating do all the talking.
The standout look was big, bold stripes — in crisp white with cherry red, bright blue or sunny yellow. The show closed with a series of pretty sheer pastel evening dresses, all embroidered with delicate flowers.
TOUGH LOVE AT VERSUS VERSACE
Versus, the spin-off label of Versace, returned to the London show circuit with a new collection promising “real attitude.” That’s clear from the very first outfit that opened the show: A smouldering all-black ensemble of thigh-baring hot pants, a leather jacket and knee-high biker boots.
This was fierce, aggressive femininity, all shiny black leather adorned with big buckles, silver hardware and chokers. Then came sporty olive green nylon coats and cropped khaki bombers with padded shoulders, worn with aviator sunglasses and the haughtiest of pouts.
There wasn’t much colour, and when it did appear it made a big impact — think an outfit of a barely-there bra top, skinny jeans and parka, all in a striking mango yellow. This being Versace, animal prints couldn’t be amiss, this time in the form of a vertical stripe patchwork print.
The evening wear that closed the show continued the young urban vibe, featuring slinky silver and torn denim — a combo that Donatella Versace herself chose to wear for her curtain call.
SKIN TIGHT ALRIGHT WITH JULIEN MACDONALD
Julien Macdonald said he was thinking “glamour, sexy, rock and roll” for his London catwalk show.
Glamorous it was, and sexy too, with models wearing skin-tight, cutaway dresses with only the sheerest, smallest of bodysuits underneath to give them that all important “no underwear” look. There was plenty of skin on display, and much of it was smeared with Vaseline and intentionally over-the-top fake tans, giving the exposed cleavage and necks an unearthly, post-human glow. The models’ long hair was drenched with product. “That feels so good,” one said with obvious relief as she rinsed her hair fresh after the show.
The asymmetrical dresses were sparkly and sequinned, the jackets were left mostly unbuttoned (with no blouse, of course) and the suits did not resemble anything Hillary Clinton or Angela Merkel would wear, pairing military style jackets over hot pants. There was dramatic use of black and gold in several dresses, and a white crocheted bodysuit seemed stylish and chic for the lean and impossibly tall.
The men did not escape the overheated look: some wore black mesh tops, and many were also bronzed beyond recognition. It was a modified hot biker look, featuring lots of metal studs and biceps.
SWEET AND PALE HUES AT WICKSTEAD
Designer Emilia Wickstead put a welcome brake on the catwalk-as-spectacle trend with a subtle show that celebrated femininity without putting it on raucous display.
Wickstead used a series of subtle, pale hues, and a dreamy chiffony drape to give some of her full-length dresses a classic, timeless feel. There was beauty in the detail, and a welcome sense of restraint. The models even wore comfortable flat shoes they were able to walk in without evident pain, giving the show a relaxed feel.
There were imaginative jumpsuits, nicely tailored, and some stomach-baring outfits that inadvertently showed off a few of the models’ tattoos, which weren’t part of the design but served to humanise the show.
When Wickstead did indulge in brighter colours, she made some creative mixes, pairing orange with a dark pink and using splashy polka dots to set off some outfits. A few dresses harkened back to the 1960s, but she was light on the nostalgia.
“We were very excited, very enthused,” said Game of Thrones actress Rose Leslie, attending the show with a friend.
Would she want the outfits? “Of course,” she said. “Who wouldn’t?” added her friend.
BECKHAM DEBUTS NEW MENSWEAR
David Beckham has made another foray into the world of fashion, this time working with British heritage brand Kent & Curwen to debut its new menswear collection.
The always immaculately groomed former soccer star wore a smart navy coat for his appearance at London Fashion Week Saturday to help promote the brand, which he part-owns.
Kent & Curwen describes the clothes as a “meeting of heritage and modernity,” and fittingly there is a strong sporty element — think striped rugby shirts, T-shirts and casual outdoorsy jackets.