On the Runway

London Fashion Week: 9 Things You Need To Know

We break down the day's top shows

Giles Fall/Winter 2011; Photography by Anthea Simms

Giles Fall/Winter 2011; Photography by Anthea Simms

Burberry Fall/Winter 2011; Photography by Anthea Simms

Burberry Fall/Winter 2011; Photography by Anthea Simms

Christopher Kane Fall/Winter 2011; Photography by Anthea Simms

Christopher Kane Fall/Winter 2011; Photography by Anthea Simms

Erdem Fall/Winter 2011; Photography by Anthea Simms

Erdem Fall/Winter 2011; Photography by Anthea Simms

1.) The Peter Pilotto duo are London’s Proenza Schouler. Bang-on styling, weird yet wearable fused-prints (particularly a chain-grid and paint spill version), new takes on classics like the pea coat (sleeves slashed off, fur lapels) and the banker-blue oxford shirt (worked into mixed-print tunics) were all genius. Sturdy Nicholas Kirkwood boots grounded the light, thoughtful layers. We loved the ‘60’s box shifts with trompe d’oeil pockets best.

 

2.) David Koma has officially made polka dots a trend. In truth, he doesn’t bare soul responsibility, but take his blush and black graphic scale of circles, Marc Jacobs’ haute spots and Topshop’s 101 Dalmatian looks and you have a trend that’s rapidly building speed. If Prada decides to go dotty in Milan next week, they’ll be no turning back. 


3.) Holly Fulton, just because a shoe’s soles are crimson does not make them chic. While Louboutin disciples are a cultish bunch, we have to point out that spiky pointed pumps, when cut so high that model’s legs give out, are not a good look. Ms. Fulton, we were intrigued by your art deco skyscraper prints and thoroughly charmed by your pearl bubble top with kiss-mark trousers, but as a female designer, you should no better than to put models in those trip-up stilettos. 


4.) Christopher Kane has a bottomless bag of smart-kid tricks. Today, he played with collars and colours. As proof of his prowess, come fall, we’ll all be vying for separates in his fluid hues. Little tailored shifts with iridescent plastic “water-ripple” collars and transparent gas-pool sequin techno-flapper frocks gleamed multiple shades. He even threw in some irreverent stodgy knits for good measure.


5.) Can Erdem do saucy and floral-free? Mais, oui. The Canadian designer opened his show with enchanted galactic-printed dresses that daringly (for this demure designer) plunged to the décolletage and slit up the thigh. Once that question was settled, he roamed back to the garden and showed panne velvet gowns embossed with striking shadowbox blooms and Monet-inspired prints. 


6.) Todd Lynn should be known for more than just leathers. Diagonal rib knits, slim ski-pants and supreme fur coats veered nicely off-course from his signature rocker tour. And colours too– namely maple leaf red – felt like a smart switch-up.


7.) Burberry’s biker-blitz misstep last season was, thankfully, a fluke. Christopher Bailey wisely zeroed in on feel-good outerwear in early Hubert de Givenchy shapes – rounded shoulder, full-sleeved coats that brilliantly referenced British supermodel Jean Shrimpton’s ’60’s heyday. We later learned that Bailey dusted off old textile mills in the U.K. to remake the distinctly stiff, structured material. Cowhide fur, spiced orange, couture cream or retro blue hues and large-scale buffalo plaids coats were our favourites. And as we’ve come to count on him to elegantly twist house staples, this time around he took the humble cable knit for a tailored trench coat spin. We were also smitten with the clear vinyl ponchos models wore for the finale as real snow fell from the sky and Adele belted out an angelic tune. 


8.) Mark Fast is so much more than the miniscule peak-a-boo dresses for which he is notorious. Basing his collection on a wolf in sheep’s clothing, Fast boldly challenged critics by opening with glamorously fluffy merino wool outerwear. Indeed, these “crazed lamb” coats, as they were called backstage, made perfect sense for when the Mark Fast It-girl (say Julia Restoin Roitfeld, Caroline Seiber or Harley Viera Newton, sitting together in the front row) needs to exit the party in style. Using a thicker-weight knit, signature dresses had more structure and coverage, especially with an added “tutu” of raw wool. Much-touted pieces in collaboration with Danier acted as a polished counterpart to fuzzy knits and sexier cutout looks. Everyone I spoke to after the show was insistent on adding the boxy bisque suede tunics to their growing Fast collections. 


9.) Giles has chops. Yes, he’s a hoot who is most comfortable in the realm of kooky cartoon prints, but don’t mistake his wicked sense of humor for lack of serious skill. This new collection stipped back the cloying touches in favour of purity. It began with stark black and white Vatican tailoring and built upon strict fundamentals: the starched high neck, the wrist ruffle, the cloak dress. Slowly, confidently, he added haunted layers to his controlled oeuvre such as horse hair patches, jet-bead barnacle embellishment and goat fur accents. It was the finest example of Gothicism to be seen in fashion for a long time and, after seasons of new beige neutrals, showed that oftentimes, black truly is best.