There were glittery runway shows Monday as London Fashion Week showcased some of its top stars including Burberry and Christopher Kane. Venues were packed as designers tried to build on past successes and break new ground with daring collections.
There was a breathless pace to the shows in various parts of London. Important buyers and influencers were whisked around in cars and drivers provided by the Britain Fashion Council. Others had to make do with the crowded subways and buses.
Once at the shows, it wasn’t always easy to get about — especially if one was wearing stiletto heels going up stairs. There were a few near misses but no tumbles.
The Burberry collection was a triumph for Riccardo Tisci, the relatively new chief creative designer. He’s found a way to elaborate on the brand’s familiar themes — those trenches and those checks, those clean lines and easy drapes — without adulterating what made Burberry unique to begin with. It’s a balancing act, and he makes it work.
“My first year at Burberry was about understanding and refining the new codification for the house,” he said. “With that foundation in place, I feel ready to start exploring.”
For Burberry the roots are always English — in this case, many of the designs are variations of the Victorian era look.
That meant reconstructed trench coats, some almost abstract in design, along with cinched blazers, box-pleat skirts suits, corset detailing and ruffled lace dresses. The evening dresses were decorated with crystal mesh and ostrich feathers layered by hand.
The colours were familiar to Burberry devotees: grey, black and beige dominated, along with many outfits that simply mixed black and white.
There were beautiful print blouses with billowing built-in scarfs, and imaginative variations of the classic trench, including some that were cutaway in front to reveal sexy slip dresses. There was nothing gaudy or flashy, nothing too outrageous, and no sense of trying too hard.
There was more variety to the menswear than in recent years, including a series of belted suits, some of which could pass for sophisticated business wear and some of which was simply too unusual, with silver decoration or contrasting panels in the jacket. For the moment, Burberry seems to have turned its back on the traditional dress shirt, tie and dark suits that were once staples of its menswear collections.
Some of the outfits, including an impressive series of white lace mini-dresses, bore the statement “I am a unicorn” across the front. It seemed at first like an attempt to be trendy, but Tisci said it was, like so many things, actually tied to Burberry’s history.
He said the firm’s founder, Thomas Burberry, chose the image of a unicorn for the family crest. Tisci said Thomas Burberry was “a daring innovator but also a romantic and a dreamer.”
Designer Christopher Kane loves to shock and loves to embrace the sensual, so it’s not surprising his new collection embraces the “ecosexual” — a term that may be difficult to define but certainly sounds intriguing. It was printed on some of the outfits and was a recurring theme on the soundtrack that accompanied the runway show.
No one should be surprised. Celebrating sex has been one of Kane’s major themes in recent years.
“We looked at the last season which was all about fetishes and sexual behaviour,” he said after the show. “So, this season again was all about that. But we looked at earth and nature, and science and nature is always something I look at for every collection.”
It’s been a winning approach for Kane, who finds new fans each year. This show was less overtly sexual than in years past, and the environmental theme was subtly showcased by a predominance of green floral prints at the start of the show.
There was a green floral trench coat, a green floral minidress with high boots, and green floral suits, and a slinky black top paired with a tiny green floral skirt, other variations on the theme. Each looked different, and fun.
Kane seemed to enjoy toying with formal wear, offering a silk brocade tuxedo jacket paired with a slightly over-the-top lime green top, and many outfits had silvery oversized bulbs for decorations.
There was a welcome playfulness to the collection, mixed with Kane’s high level of craftsmanship and colour.
Long silky dresses in powder pink or violet, shirts with oversized collars worn with a houndstooth jacket with straight trousers for a 70s look: Victoria Beckham played the chic and simple card for her show in the Foreign Office’s majestic Durbar Court.
Her watchwords were lightness, freedom and simplicity.
Beckham’s front row included her whole family — husband David, the former star Manchester United footballer, and their four children — as well as the grand priestess of fashion Anna Wintour.
The show drew around 20 activists of environmental group Extinction Rebellion, who briefly shut the road outside the venue to protest waste created by fast fashion.