London Fashion Week came to a close on Wednesday with a somewhat lackluster season. Normally a city of young talent and fresh ideas, this time around I didn’t feel that it had the same spark and forward movement. Burberry showed a bit of a disappointing collection with fabulous statement coats and color but not much more. Erdem showed their usual floral prints in a darker color palette with more fluid silhouettes, but nothing to make us want to buy another. One of our favorites from Spring, Jonathan Saunders, lacked innovation in silhouettes leaving me wanting more.
There were however some great presentations and things to get excited about. Newcomer Thomas Tait showed a beautiful sculptural collection to an audience of top tier fashion buyers to rave reviews. Christopher Raeburn succeeded in producing another round of amazing re-purposed parkas. And Mary Katrantzou expanded on her spring collection and this time produced amazing digital prints on flowy chiffons for a new take on last season’s winning collection.
We will bring you a closer look at some of the collections in the coming weeks that our contributing editor attended in London, in the meantime, take a look at our Top 5 collection picks.
After a wacky and questionable Spring collection, Giles Deacon made a triumphant return with a strict and focused Fall presentation which fits right into our Top 5. The collection showcased a full array of the designer’s talent and translated into a strong, sexy, and slightly fetishistic woman. The silhouettes were fresh with a strong Victorian and Edwardian influence. The garments were tantalizing with the mix of fabrications from fur, tapestry, to leather and lace. Overall the collection is full of top-notch construction and workmanship. While these qualities exist in many designers nowadays, it was Deacon’s execution of his vision that attracted our attention. While his vision is sometimes sporadic (often prone to produce looks miles away from practicality), most of the Fall collection is surprisingly wearable and encourages more of a bold approach to women’s dressing.
View Giles Deacon’s Fall 2011 collection here.
Acne continues to be the perennial cool brand always climbing forward with new ideas and strong confident silhouettes and proportions. Designer Jonny Johansson keeps pushing the envelope with fabrics and shapes showing leather t-shirts & cropped pants, trousers ending with transparent fabric, oversized motorcycle jackets and vests, and basically all things new and cool. The color combination is fresh and the oversized proportions remain a house signature. For a brand that started out as a denim specialist, Acne’s RTW consistently leads seasonal trends and often sets them for several seasons down the road. Johansson says he took his Fall inspiration from the cool girls who work at his office. The resulting collection certainly reflects that real life reference as the clothes were utilitarian, modern, and just plain easy to wear. If retailers want to be the next cool store in town, then stocking Acne is definitely a surefire way to do so.
View Acne’s Fall 2011 collection here.
3. PETER PILOTTO
For Fall, Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos have politics and fashion on their mind. It is unusual for fashion folks to get too entangled with politics, but this time around, the design duo’s attention on the Middle East conflict gave way to tougher and stronger silhouettes that we are pleased to see. Taking a detour from the signature soft silhouettes, the collection employed straighter lines and tailoring and a rebellious mood of prints involving tid-dye mixed with batiks. The signature twisting and draping is still present in the collection, but reinterpreted in a free-for-all manner, much less pretty and delicate as previous collections.Overall the collection achieved a sense of tension that is reflective of what’s going on at a global level and pushed the boundaries of the brand’s foundation.
View the Peter Pilotto Fall 2011 collection here.
4. JULIEN MACDONALD
Julien MacDonald’s itsy-bitsy Spring collection was probably still lingering in people’s mind when they sat down awaiting his latest outing. But those memories quickly became hazy as the designer sent out one of his strongest collections in recent years. MacDonald was able to take the sex and the glamour of his signature style and add in a dose of gothic detail. The whole show in general was dark, moody, and sexy. But instead of delving into the never ending rabbit hole of gothic mania, he was able to juxtapose it with his trademark romanticism in the silhouettes and the mixture of soft and hard edge elements such as lace and leather. The collection is more wearable then his past few seasons and reminded people of how enormous of a talent he is. There are some great fur offerings mixed with knits to die for. The collection featured clothes that can be worn appropriately outdoors as well as gowns that confident women will salivate over. Here’s hoping Julien is back on track with his brand vision and continues to bring us what we expect from him in the future.
View the Julien MacDonald Fall 2011 collection here.
5. CHRISTOPHER KANE
Christopher Kane seems to be laser sharp when it comes to sticking to inspirations, and for this season he set his sights on crafty crochet and fluid plastic. The collection consisted mainly of blanket crochet cardigans, dresses, skirts and liquid filled plastic panels acting as straps and/or pockets. Christopher was inspired by the movement of the liquid within lava lamps and a novelty pencil case he had when he was a kid. The craftiness of the crochet and the innovation of injecting vegetable dye and glycerine into a plastic tube makes this collection chic and daring instead of tacky and tasteless. There is a subtle sense of youth and playfulness in the otherwise comically looking plastic swirls, which Kane smartly paired with the chicest of color – black – and the crochet came off as fresh and desirable. Overall the designer’s persistence of his vision as well as his daring approach is something many other designers should examine for themselves.
View the Christopher Kane Fall 2011 collection here.