Runway Review Roundup: The Best of London Fashion Week Fall 2013
London fashion week might just be the quirkiest of the four, fostering talent that is eccentric, colorful, and unique. This fall and winter season, darkness was a consistent thread throughout the London collections; floral patterns were moody, plaids harkened back to delinquent schoolgirls, and even Burberry Prorsum, with its heart prints, had a slick edge. But, instead of talking, we should just to show you the best shows of London:
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” seems to be Burberry Prorsum’s mantra. Christopher Bailey has discovered a rhyme and reason within his Burberry Prorsum collections since becoming creative director in 2001, and later the chief executive director in 2009. He’s been accredited with turning the brand around with his sleek pencil skirts, forays into metallic, classic sweaters, and transformative perspective on trenchcoats that are reinvented every season. We’re never bored, though the silhouettes are the same, because Bailey has a way of designing within a silhouette without getting stuck. This season, the Burberry Prorsum girl is a lot naughtier than ever before, revolving around the kinky addition of suggestively sheer latex. Incorporated into pencil skirts – seeing Cara Delevingne’s high-waisted heart print knickers beneath her pencil skirt seemed to belie the romantic sentiment a heart print should represent – and trenchcoats lined with grommets and golden metal accoutrements, perhaps suggestive of bondage restraints, we’ve never seen anything like this latex. The muse of the collection was Christine Keeler, the showgirl and model whose penchant for sexual affairs with British dignitaries and Russian spies nearly led to the collapse of the British Government; with that in mind, the not-so-innocent designs make a lot of sense.
Designers Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi created a deliberately two-faced collection for Fall 2013. They wanted to tap into the punk trend and created a grungy, dark, and edgy collection that was still luxurious and opulent, a marriage of concepts not easily pulled off (see: Saint Laurent Fall 2013). There was a lot of fascinating plays on shape and texture that combined old silhouettes with a punk touch, such as a flare skirt with a pencil-skirt insert for a trompe l’oeil effect, contrasting collars set askew, asymmetrical and vivid zippers, plunging necklines paired with A-line skirting, and embellished sheer shirts. However, the playful designs didn’t stop there: we were particularly smitten with the grainy film graphic print used to create abstract mosaics and the Swarovski rhinestone argyle embellishments toward the end of the show. In the end, the effect was complete – just one glimpse at the playful biker jackets and slightly abstract leopard print transport you to a Siouxsie and the Banshees concert at the MET.
Mulberry’s forte is creating preppy, approachable, and luxurious apparel. The brand is well known for their top-of-the-line satchels, quirky campaigns, and adoration of accessorizing in vivid colors. This season, the normally bright colored and peppy brand took a darker turn. The fresh-faced models were slightly disheveled, bundled up as they trotted down the runway in somber colors that were sometimes streaked with a vibrant hue (yellow made a sporadic appearance), but mostly not. As a whole, the dark patterned rebellion seems entirely tongue-in-cheek, like a cheerleader taking a foray into moody shades while those around her are indulging in the recent popularity of punk. We don’t mean that in a bad way, because we love the idea of rebellion being in the form of oxblood alligator, powder pink cashmere, emerald green ostrich, and enlarged tartan imbued with sequins. It’s so unconventional and creative that we can’t help but feel like it is meant to take us back to the childlike delight of Alice in Wonderland. That said, the accessories and clothing aren’t with an adolescent in mind and cry out for the modern sophisticate who likes to branch out. Emma Hill, yet again, delivered.
For Fall 2013, Mary Katrantzou went in a totally different direction than ever before. She stepped out of her comfort zone and it returned phenomenal results. Gone are her saturated colors, billowing shapes, and plays on trompe l’oeil, as the collection was distinctly morose, bordering on depressed, in color and print. That isn’t to say that her synonymous graphic prints weren’t utterly impressive, we were smitten with the monochromatic scenes of trees and deserted streets, or the cherry blossom prints that were lightly colored in faded pastels, evoking images of forgotten postcards and leaked ink. Dreary, yet still fantastical, she reaffirmed her place as master of print even without the array of hues. Then, there are the new shapes. Post-show, Katrantzou noted how she wanted to take a step back and focus on silhouette, which meant a rise in angular fabric jutting out from the shoulders, oblique shapes, and architecturally driven folds that felt vaguely Asian, which were met with mixed results (in store, the abstract shapes and disproportionate silhouettes are replaced classic options). Perhaps the Greece native has spent too much time in London’s rain- and fog-laden streets, but if the result is this eerily beautiful, we hope she doesn’t leave anytime soon.
By: Shannon Weston