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Monday, 24 February 2014

Guest Post: Five things you need to know about London Fashion Week...

New York down. 
London down. 
Milan just down. 
Only Paris left to go - and what a fashion month it's been so far... 

But in the constant whirl of shows, front rows and jaw dropping collection after collection, are you beginning to find that everything's starting to blur around the edges a little? Time to take a step back and consider what you'll be filling your wardrobe with come September? Well luckily we have a little guest blog treat for you today - fashion writer, Caitlin Leslie of awesome new blog, The Aperitif, has distilled London Fashion Week down into the five key takeaways from the A/W 14 shows...     

London Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2014 spanned five days, 105 shows (60 on-schedule, 45 off), countless Starbucks runs and 30 grey whippets. It was the Fashion Week that saw Kendall Jenner sit next to Anna Wintour on the front row, TomFord knock off Jay-Z, and monogrammed capes take centre stage at Burberry. But now that the circus has moved on to Paris via Milan, I’ve looked back on the Somerset House whirlwind and picked out the five things you really need to know about.
 
The Accessory
 
Images: Mulberry.com

Thanks to a hugely hyped launch event on Sunday, Mulberry’s collaboration with Cara Delevingne was one of Fashion Week’s biggest news stories. Everyone was expecting a bag named after the model, given the wild success of Mulberry’s Alexa and Del Rey styles, but instead we got a whole Cara collection.
 
Three bags, each of them a riff on Cara’s tomboy streak, can be worn as a backpack or carried by a shorter handle at the top. In camo, quilted or studded colour ways, they’re all stamped with a tiny ‘Made in England’ script, just like the tattoo on her foot. "In that first meeting I was quite strong about wanting it to be practical,” she told Vogue, “something for a modern-day woman - or man -and not just doing one job."
 
So the moonlit forest photo call at Claridge’s, where Delevingne was barefoot and surrounded by whippets, was an unexpectedly floaty, feminine choice. It mirrored Mulberry’s heritage more than the bags’ androgynous elements, and proved that even Cara isn’t calling every shot yet.
 
The Colour
 
Images: Caitlin Leslie and Style.com
 
Sugar pink might have been tipped as the colour for Spring/Summer2014, but at London Fashion Week the most stylish spectators had already traded candy floss for layers of blue. Fuzzy pastel coats were worn like capes on the cobbles of Somerset House, and royal blue appeared on voluminous trousers and skirts. There was denim too, doubled up and worn in the most mannish of ways, mixed in with leopard print or grey tailoring.
 
On the runway a rich ultramarine appeared at Peter Pilotto, Sister by Sibling and Richard Nicoll, who started his show with a succession of three all-blue looks. There were flashes of sky at Roksanda Ilincic while a dark teal infected Burberry’s autumnal palette. And Marios Schwab gave navy a newfound sexiness, embroidering sheer layers and bomber jackets with silver constellations.
 
The high street presentations were all over it too, with Whistles adopting the moody blues in its block prints and Hunter working a bright Yves Klein shade into its first Fashion Week show. At Topshop Unique, the mammoth Tate Modern runway opened with a mohair overcoat, wrapped over a matching cobalt sweater.
 
The Show
 
Images: Style.com
 
Christopher Kane was one of the most talked-about shows of the week, even before it started. On a bleak and rainy Monday morning, there were the inevitable comparisons to J.W. Anderson, who had shown an earthy, romantic and highly sculpted collection two days earlier. Both are young, home-grown designers (Anderson is Irish and Kane is from Scotland, earning them a SixNations analogy from Business of Fashion) with eponymous labels, who have accepted their first foreign investment (from LVMH and Kering respectively) in the last year.
 
But with his explosion of ideas on the runway, Kane managed to outshine all of the speculation. He has a reputation for working theme after theme into a single collection, and that refusal to focus on just one concept has become one of his greatest strengths. This time there was ruching almost everywhere: on PVC trims, pale yellow knitwear and scrunchy grey dresses. The botanical motifs from his Spring/Summer 2014 collection reappeared on an apron-style dress, while fluffy mink was employed as an unexpected foil to all that PVC. 
 
And for all its contradictions, this felt like one of Kane’s most wearable collections. His double-breasted overcoats, which fell to the knee with a masculine cut, showed that he can offer up investment pieces as well as novel ideas. His final looks – dresses made of geometric mille-feuille that fluttered as the models walked – are bound to become some of next season’s most-wanted pieces.
 
The Shoes
 
Images: Theguardian.com

Sophia Webster’s heartbreak hotel-themed presentation was one of the most Instagrammed events at Fashion Week. Nicknamed "Happily Ever After Is So Once Upon A Time," it saw models recline in bubble baths (with their heels sticking out of the tub, obviously) and pose with pink feather dusters or vintage telephones. It was a Clueless-inspired take on the Barbie dream house, complete with platinum hair extensions clipped into the brunette models’ locks.
 
And the shoes were as colourful as their setting, with rose prints, fur trims and sweetie-studded platforms. Perspex was mixed up with old school sneaker laces, knee-high boots were made entirely of latticework and there were flashes of zebra print, made fun in a way that only Webster could manage. Footwear presentations can easily end up buried under all the excitement of the runway, but this was like a huge exclamation mark in-between the shows. It reminded everyone – as if they had forgotten – why Webster’s so quickly become London’s coolest shoe designer, as well as the most colourful.   
          
The New Names
 
Images: Style.com
 
Fashion East, which showcases three breakthrough designers in a combined show every season, welcomed two new names to the fold for Autumn/Winter 2014. Helen Lawrence and Louise Alsop showed their collections alongside Ashley Williams (who was taking part for the final time), and both brought something new to the runway.
 
Louise Alsop worked almost entirely in monochrome, only making an exception for a few barely-there pastels. She scribbled ‘hopeless’ and ‘loveless’ on sweatshirts and dresses with staggered hems, planting the seeds of rebellion in unfinished necklines and wisps of chiffon. A high-necked dress in pure white, wrapped with cords at the waist, was a fresh take on eveningwear.
Helen Lawrence’s collection was all about texture, with fuzzy pencil skirts and three-quarter length trousers in grey, lilac and mint mohair. Squiggly, almost cartoon-like tops were held together with zigzag embroidery for a flash of contradiction: hard lines etched onto a purposefully unfinished silhouette.
 
With tutoring from Lulu Kennedy – director of Fashion East and “fairygodmother” to London’s emerging talent - ahead of them, these are two names worth memorising. The show’s alumni already includes Gareth Pugh, Jonathan Saunders and Meadham Kirchhoff, some of the most interesting designers to show at London Fashion Week, so the potential here is huge.

 
Post written by CaitlinLeslie, who writes about London fashion and food on her blog, The Aperitif

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