After missing Paul Costelloe due to a delayed flight into Gatwick, the first show caught here at London Fashion Week was Body AMR which Vogue has called “one of the best kept secrets in fashion”. Held at Freemason’s Hall in Covent Garden, one of many exquisite historic sites chosen to house the official catwalk shows, it was clear one of the benefits of Fashion Week in London is its history. Having come fresh off the heels of New York Fashion Week, the esthetic advantage of these architectural masterpieces as a backdrop to the art on the runway was evident.
That’s not a slight against New York which of course has its share of beautifully-designed buildings. It’s just that everything here in London is so, well, old and there’s just no replacement for that kind of history. Another interesting contrast with New York is that I have no idea who the celebrities are here. The paparazzi went nuts over several young blondes in the front row, whose identity escaped me. Josephine, a retail buyer for A La Mode, a boutique in Sloane Square, was kind enough to enlighten me: the strawberry blonde was a singer with local band Girls Aloud.
The haunting opening strains for the Body AMR show “A Vanguard” matched the eerie atmosphere of the Freemason’s House, which carries its own tale of intrigue. Aggressive string music accompanied the models militaristic strut down the unmarked runway…fitting since the tag in the press kit read: “The forward element of an advancing military tactical formation.” Lots of drape and halter styles with Grecian elements like rolled/twisted necklines dominated. Trend-watching contrasted with classic elements in the form of gauzy thigh-highs accented with gold embellishments which emulated the omnipresent boot style except these ended at the ankle, sometimes covering the top of the footwear. Three-quarter sleeves with gold epaulets adorned a mini-shift dress, and details such as tied knots silk-screened on rather than done with fabrication gave the impression of the jokey t-shirt with the tuxedo image painted on. Was the designer after the same kind of irony here? Was it a comment on the economy and lean times, eschewing the use of fabric and painting it on instead?
Skirts were short, short, short, and cut close to the body and breasts were barely covered by gauzy halters, making the show unabashedly and aggressively sexy. Ruffles were prominent whether in black tiered jersey or floaty chiffon and a black cropped feather jacket was a show stopper. A collarless three-quarter-length jacket was also on trend.
The militaristic music morphed into something more romantic to indicate the transition to evening looks: silk satin in winter white cinched at the smallest part of the waist with a narrow belt and complemented by a gradient train from light to dark grey. Floor-length gowns, feminine and flowing, kept their modern sex appeal with cut-out shoulders, not to mention the layer of grease on the models’ bodies. A long-sleeved ruffled gauzy mini-dress with diamante-encrusted bib shone.
Over at Somerset House, Fashion Week headquarters, designer Craig Lawrence showcased his collection on-screen at the Digital Space with a 5-minute looped film. Heavy on metallics, the showstopper was a look which appeared in Women’s Wear Daily’s preview of LFW: a silver metallic confection whose short skirt resembles tin foil put through a paper shredder with a captivating result.
The Estethica Exhibition at Somerset House featured an installation by emerging designers from the London College of Fashion’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion. Each of the four designers has benefitted from the CSF’s business support programme which gives support to local entrepreneurs. Michelle Lowe-Holder is “inspired by the idea of creating treasures from trash”; Nyonyo & Yayra uses end of line fabrics to create “a quirky but beautiful aesthetic”; Partimi has collaborated with Greenpeace on an awareness-raising t-shirt line; and White Tent produces its edgy, laser-cut and eco-friendly womenswear in a family-run factory in Portugal.