Les Chiffoniers – AW11February 24, 2011
This should be the perfect season for this label. Leather is everywhere now and they were one of the first to utilise is so much way back when with leather leggings, so can be masterful in ruling this fabric. Leena Similu has turned her attention from the signature legging to the form of the dress. The material (recycled from old creations) has been manipulated into various forms; patchwork, layered strips, panels and embellished with lighter fabrics such as pleated chiffon and net to create a new body of work which is structured and soft. As with many presentations this season a short film accompanies the work to show off the clothes in a different media.Emily Jerman
Mark Fast – AW11February 24, 2011
Mark Fast is all about the knit, it’s his signature and trademark, so it was a little surprising to see the runway filling with leather and chiffon looks. Whilst the knit wear is ever progressive and hugs to the girls body like a second skin, the introduction of bigger sculptured pieces such as the accordion cardigan, oversized shoulder dress and the full length gown were stunning. The leather was just hard to read. The shape was simple, perhaps too much so. I realise you can’t knit with leather, although I could be wrong, so perhaps he is working on a new technique for next season and this was a slow introduction. I do hope so.Emily Jerman
Paul Smith – AW11February 24, 2011
Paul Smith is a master of the English tom-boy. Dapper tailoring and knitwear with a slight eccentricity was the flavour for AW11, a look which is very much falling back into favour with the menswear at the moment. Nearly every girl sent down the runway was in trousers, be it rolled up boyfriend fit jeans, cords, or cigarette pants. Accents of bright colour were thrown in to keep the attention and feminine fabrics such a chiffon and silk punctuated the tweeds and denim to confirm to us we were watching the womenswear show. Shamelessly geeky, this librarian has taste. Much like Margaret Howell, Paul Smith is a long time favourite and these shows are how to showcase the British at their best.Emily Jerman
Holly Fulton – AW11February 24, 2011
There was bound to be colour, and there was an abundance. The elegant lady who walked was, in part, the result of Fulton’s intense interest with the Coco Chanel and Duke of Westminster affair when in Scotland. Chic tweed shift dresses in brilliant yellow and black, pearl encrusted jackets matched with pink and purple print wide legged trousers, embellished hats and fur trims. The prints of skylines and art nouveau design were of the same period, and involved a summer like palette of teal, mint and peach with navy touches on fabulous flowing column dresses and trousers. The collection was punchy and experimental, more evolved from last season, and better for it.Emily Jerman
David Koma – AW11February 24, 2011
It was a big day for the British labels today. On front row was Samantha Cameron, supporting the newgen designers David Koma and Holly Fulton. Daphne Guiness also attending looked resplendant, as usual. Spots are proving a hit this season, Marc Jacobs in NY and David Koma here in London.
Clean and stream lined silhouettes for the opening section had varying sized circles laser cut out of the panels or printed onto the clothes, creating a precise and graphic symmetry. Black and nude dominated before the colours seeped in via a face print and pom pom trims on the shoulders, cuffs and finally a ruff style in bright yellow. The laser cut shells were layered over a green, blue or pink base. The spotted capes and long A-line skirts in the middle of the show were a welcome change of silhouette in amongst the more structured shapes, and proving Koma can create movement.Emily Jerman
Vivienne Westwood – AW11February 21, 2011
Set in the incredible Royal Courts of Justice, this was promising to be a thrill of a show. Red Label, we are told, has been developed with long standing Westwood member, Murray Blewett. Heritage and tradition is important to this label and they want to encourage more designers to return to using and sourcing English wool, fabrics and knits.
Red label displayed Blewett’s interpretation of typical Britishness in people observed in his neighbourhood of Portobello Market. The hair woven into crowns and outsized bowler hats amplifies the tradition, whilst the wool coats and riding themes served the country sense. A Westwood show is rarely understood first time round, the more you look, the more you see, and as pretty much anything goes the taffeta cocktail dress, tartan mini skirt and pinstripe suiting did not look that out of place together, especially given the context. Much like the market, keeping looking and you will unearth a gem.Emily Jerman
Osman- AW11February 21, 2011
With a brilliant white runway splattered with azure blue ink colour was expected, and Osman did not disappoint. A basic palette of black and white was splashed with a riot of colour. Tangerine orange winked from underneath a caped dress, bright pink stripes broke up a black leather A-line dress and apple green trimmed waists and bust lines.
The tunic shapes were moulded forms styled over a fluid wide legged trouser, and some with an apron skirt. The three piece in orange was clean and punchy as was the two tone shocking pink and nude dress. it was explained post show that there were zips at the waist and bottom parts of skirts to encourage interchange between the looks. A great excuse to order more than one.Emily Jerman
TopShop Unique – AW11February 21, 2011
The vacuous hall of Billingsgate entertained the fashion crowd with a reception before the show. Serving salads, afternoon tea, champagne and juices the guests wondered if there were enough people to fill the giant room. It soon became apparent that there were plenty.
As usual Philip Green took his place with his fist lady to the left. This season Anna Wintour. Lights went down and music belted out from Disney’s 101 Dalmatians referencing Cruella De Vil. It was all the show notes we needed as the first look walked out – black and white spotted faux fur coat and the hair in minnie mouse style ears.
The collection was fun and flirty, as its meant to be. The spots were everywhere; stoles, gloves, shoes and coats. Glamourous New York 1920′s – 40′s was interpreted - be it architectural prints, tea dresses or pinstriped suiting, and so leaning ever toward the new American market TopShop has found since its NY opening.Emily Jerman
Margaret Howell – AW11February 21, 2011
The intimate venue of her Wigmore St store Margaret Howell was as understated and elegant as her clothes. As the first girls walked the hats and cashmere headbands screamed (as much as Howell clothes ever do) quintessential Britain.
Double breasted coats, over sized cord suiting and cable knits were styled with light and delicate layers of sheer cotton/chiffon, and skirts or shorts with cashmere, all were belted with leathers in tones of brown. The flat washed out pink brogues and loosely knotted hair gave an air of undone but yet considered. Simplicity that works, is far more difficult to achieve than flamboyant indulgence, but with every season this label continues to be a bench mark of standard for other British labels to aspire to.Emily Jerman
Christopher Raeburn – AW11February 21, 2011
Aldwych ticket office in the abandoned underground station, is where Christoper Raeburn chose to present ’Blast’ in several formats. Firstly a short film, then model presentation, and then ‘sound’ added to which photographs lined the walls. Reaburn was “eager to immerse the guests in the full spirit of the Christopher Raeburn brand.”
Raeburn is famed for sourcing a vintage utility piece, deconstructing it and reinventing it in a different way, usually resulting in anoraks and parkas. However this season he branched out a little more and turned his eye to tailoring in heavier fabrics such as wool rather than his favoured parachute silks. They were delightful to see. Care and attention obvious when you look closely to the details. You can only hope he continues to cast his eye further afield and tackle other projects.Emily Jerman