Sitting on the runway at Heathrow Airport earlier today, the irony was almost too much to bear. I was supposed to be sitting by a rather different runway in the centre of London. Doesn’t anyone know fashion week has already begun? Let’s get a move on people! I careened through London with my black and white houndstooth spinner behind me and managed to make my way to Somerset House – what a gorgeous venue, much better than the tents they used to have at the Natural History Museum.
Day one got things rolling with a familiar and uniquely British aesthetic: quirky futurism blended with gothic drama plus a dash of unwearability. The up and coming designers here always dish out a full dose.
Hitting the runway first is Ashley Isham who was inspired by Flash Gordon this season. The space vixen look isn’t anything new though, so his overwrought metallic structured dresses and Princess Leia grecian gowns are things we’ve seen before. Clear perspex trenches and dresses with snakeskin trim come down the catwalk first, followed by ‘80s lame blazers. With a mish mash of colours, patterns and fabrics, it’s hard to find a standout trend here. Favourite pieces though were a candy red mini in pleated chiffon and strips of sequins, plus a few chic boleros.
After a quick rest in the media lounge on some very cool tufted leather sofas, next up was a triple-hitter. Felder Felder, Jean-Pierre Braganza and Hannah Marshall teamed up for a single catwalk. We bustled in there like cattle and the room was packed. Champion of up and coming Brit designers Sarah Mower was there, Erin O’Conner too. Pixie Geldof was inconspicuous in a sweatshirt and mini skirt until she perched herself on a bloke’s lap and took to interviewing people with her own Flip video camera.
Tough black leather clearly isn’t going anywhere fast. Felder Felder showed a multitude of black leather panelling on wool dresses, coats and crop tops. But it was decisively more feminine this time around with bold ruffles circling sleeves, soft nude hues, chiffon spilling out of military jackets, rosettes and platform mary janes. Canada’s Kate Somers rocked a number of spooky prints and one seriously slinky maxi dress. The no pants look appeared, as did a spangled bra, showing the hold the boudoir trend has on us. Worn with opaque tights and long sleeved tees though, it’s not nearly as intimidating.
Canadian-born JP Braganza sent out his usual hard futuristic look, but again it had a very ladylike twist. A bit like ‘40s secretaries on the Jetsons. More leather panelling with heavy wool but with pieces of fabric stitched together in slashes, printed dresses with a cool moon surface print helped soften the overall feel. Key pieces were outsize knits, coat dresses and shoulder cut-out detail minis. The finale look had a vest that was very reminiscent of Greta Constantine’s seatbelt jacket from Fall ’09… has inspiration crossed the other way across the Atlantic?
Hannah Marshall took over the runway with her gothic glamour. The look is severe, but definitely inspired. Could have done without the goulish makeup and metallic blue lips however. A number of beautiful furs with the boldest shoulders I’ve seen yet were stand outs. As were the ‘90s turtleneck cut out dresses in leather and velvet. Body suits and leather skinny pants with cutout slits on the thigh are not for the faint of heart. An oversized metallic shaggy knit could easily land in Pixie’s closet.
Another dash and I’m off at the end of the evening. Taking the train up to North Yorkshire for a wedding tomorrow. Will be searching the rolling hills for possible points of inspiration for Christopher Bailey who resides up there. Back on Sunday!