On the Runway

Day 2: London Fashion Week with Louise Gray, Emilio de la Morena, and Topshop

Topshop Unique Spring/Summer ’11; Photo by Anthea Simms

Topshop Unique Spring/Summer ’11; Photo by Anthea Simms

Topshop Unique Spring/Summer ’11; Photo by Anthea Simms


The Seventies disco vibe continues at House of Holland, held at the Old Sorting House, an industrial warehouse. The collection serves up a range of Palm Springs attire; accordion-pleat dresses in shocking shades of teal, magenta, and fuchsia, bellbottoms, mile-long fringe, and star prints. Agyness Deyn sits front and center rather than walking and while the first row and beyond is very full, dozens of editors arriving late are forced to stand near the photographer pit.

The final show on my schedule is Charles Anastase. The models teeter and totter in sky-high wedge platform sandals, all the more slippery when paired with their bright nylon hosiery. When one girl takes a tumble, die-hard Anastase fan Alexa Chung snaps a quick pic. Mini-trends from the week thus far appear here as well: silver, ultra-sheer fabrics, and rompers. Ruff-like collars and swiss-dot dresses create an idyllic, youthful tone. Everything is easy to throw on -except the shoes. Sweet note to end on for the day.

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Exciting line-up for Day 2, with a variety of off-site venues to search for. First up though is Louise Gray at the On/Off space. Her show notes allude to an arts-and-crafts approach and the resulting patchwork, knotting, and found-objects don’t disappoint. Inspired by pop art and vintage Interview mags, surface decoration comes by way of multi-colour bottle caps and curled ribbon. With so many design elements going on, you might expect to be overwhelmed. However there was a real method to the madness that maintained a degree of sophistication – minus the playful white socks worn with sandals.

Next I head to the much-anticipated Emilio de la Morena show. The show venue is at the Lexington car garage in Soho, and the audience includes notable editors and stylists, like Kate Lanphear, Caroline Sieber, and Olivia Palermo. Micro-short dresses feature contrasting pieces of stiff leather and floaty layers of organza. Lazer-cut leather gives a traditionally weighty fabric a breezy feel. There were some bold punches of red and yellow, but it was the looks in soft pastels that made the sweetest impression. This collection strikes a perfect balance of tough and pretty.

Before the Topshop Unique show there’s time to scope out the Craig Lawrence presentation. With a dreamy short film produced by Dazed & Confused to accompany it, the collection is extremely delicate translucent knits woven with foil and yarn that skim the ground. This sort of fine detail deserves a closer look – the presentation format suits the collection well. Smart designers are mindful of the best way to display their line; a runway show isn’t always a must.

Another enticing off-site venue today is the old Eurostar terminal, where Topshop Unique is to be held. There’s already a massive gathering when I arrive but I seem to slip into the right line when I realize I’m standing behind Julia Restoin Roitfeld. A slow, winding climb up the station ramps and I reach the cavernous terminal, outfitted with an expansive catwalk and pop-up Topshop Cafe where the champagne is flowing. Nothing like a glass of bubbly to put editors and buyers in a good mood pre-show. There’s commotion when a pregnant Lily Allen arrives, wrapped in a Louis Vuitton poncho, but things soon quiet down and the show is underway. The Topshop girl this season is a whimsical 70s disco-babe. Total sensory overload; shimmery dresses, floral and batik prints, cropped suede bell-bottoms, and whipping fringe on shoes and bags. So far this week a few designers have been showing slim-fitting flared pants and bell-bottoms, which  is a style I gravitate towards but can rarely find. It’s a super-flattering cut on the leg and I’m excited to see a label like Topshop create a version I could afford.