After Saunders, I meet up with my British Fashion Council contact, Kimberly, who encourages me to attend the Fashion East show, sponsored by Topshop. The runway line-up includes three up-and-coming designers; Heikki Salonen, Felicity Brown, and Simone Rocha. Its great to see a major retailer like Topshop rally around emerging talent, in an industry which can be near-impossible to crack, let alone establish a label in a saturated market. Each designer has a distinctly different look, but the label that really catches my attention – to the point of craning my head for a better look – is Felicity Brown. You can see the fruits of her labour from previous design positions at major houses like Alberta Ferretti and Lanvin. Undulating raw-edge ruffles are stacked thickly and coil around short cocktail dresses in emerald green, saffron, navy, and cream. Sure, it’s not the most original design element but consider that these pieces were created without the production team of a larger house. Executed so skillfully, you have to admire the collection for an instance in which a young designer pulled off a great feat.
Anticipation for the Burberry show has been building all week, and with a brimming guestlist, I make sure to get there early. There’s a massive photographer pit outsude the venue, hollering for celebs who pull up one by one. From the press and buyer platform, I spot Cat Deely and Poppy Delvigne, who have been present at all major shows this week, decked out in their Burberry outfits. Soon the platform is too congested and I pop inside to grab my seat. Light projections cast the pattern of the signature Burberry tartan onto the interior walls as attendees trickle in. A companion outside tells me that Sarah Jessica Parker has just pulled up in an Audi but at the moment I’m focused on my direct line of sight; Anna Wintour and Serena Williams pose together for a cluster of cameras. Once everyone is seated the show is underway, both on the catwalk and as it is simultaneously being broadcast worldwide online, the projections continue but this time, they are duplicating frames of close-ups (mostly zoned in on accessories) of each runway look spanning the venue walls. There isn’t a bad seat in the house. True to form, there are a multitude of variations on your staple jacket for the season: the leather biker. Also returning from past seasons is bands of ruching, layers, and cropped lengths. Where this season draws difference from the last is in print and hardware embellishments. Cheetah print meets dyed python patterns – it sounds like overkill but the print-on-print trend is easy to swallow if you treat them like your favourite neutrals, to much more dynamic effect. Staple trench coats are re-issued in new fabrications like silver leather sliced to resemble python skin, and criss-crossing strips of nude patent that catch the light and are their own sort of subtle embellishment. Tough-yet-pretty sresses are micro-mini, and either tiered with raw-edge rows, bound by leather harnesses, or ruched silks punched with metal cone studs. The styling is bang-on; for SS11, every look is polished off with a belt and a bag. The Burberry girl is finished to a tee. Baguette clutches and rounded saddle purses ring with shocking hues of teal, hot pink, lime green, and tangerine. These are sure to fly off of the shelves, since they are an effortless way to add a dose of brights to your wardrobe. On the footwear front, every pair is a sleek pointed toe pump with stiletto heel. Rubber trim, buckled harnesses, and textured finishes are the only details on jet black styles. A few models struggle with the sky-scrapers and the last look out proves too much for one girl who ultimately topples to the ground. Maybe the shoes are to blame, maybe its the weight of the black leather biker jacket entirely coated in silver metal studs – later on at the Burberry showroom, I can barely lift the piece with two hands. As the finale confetti rains down, I leave my last show of London Fashion Week on an uplifting note. To have witnessed the show of a heritage brand who has not only become a predominant leader in the industry for trends, commercial success, and technological innovation in marketing, feels like a very special privilege.
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For my final day of shows, I’ve got an eclectic line-up. There’s Canadian talent Todd Lynn, colour-block connoisseur Jonathan Saunders, emerging designers at Fashion East, and the penultimate show of the week: Burberry.
At Todd Lynn, there’s high anticipation to see how jeweler Shaun Leane’s metal-craft will be incorporated into the line. The collection is entirely neutral, leaving all the emphasis on sculptural shapes and asymmetrical cuts. The sawed-off shorts suits with strap-closure blazers have the look of a delinquent boarding school student. Leane’s pieces aren’t as prominent as I had hoped, although one eye-catching show look is constructed with a winding column around the torso and past the shoulder, plated with silver mirrored strips that resemble piano keys.
In dramatic contrast, Jonathan Saunders delivers a range of preppy, painterly looks fit for an afternoon lawn party. Pre-show, as I find my seat inside the venue, I’m certain that there’s a mix-up, since I’ve been allocated a spot amidst the Vogue team. I double-check with a PR girl to avoid a potential embarrassing situation of seat-snatching from a senior editor. She confirms that yes, I am to sit next to Meredith Melling Burke, just behind Hamish Bowles and Mark Holgate. Surrounding seats are soon filled by Tim Blanks and Cathy Horn. I have to pinch myself to be convinced that this is actually happening – that I’m sitting amongst some of the most revered editors in the industry. I’m on my best behaviour when I take a video recording of the finale walk, and try my best to act nonchalant while certain company discusses their thoughts on the week’s shows. Once the show begins, I can see that the wide orange lines that striped the invitation reappear in mono-bands. The juxtapositions created between boxy pleated skirts, sheer graphic printed dresses, a torso-revealing cropped button-up shirt, and bold blocks of colour make for a dynamic yet concise line. Bouncey ponytails and a tomato-red pout on each girl solidifies the nods to 1950s sportswear. Its a treat to see both notable newcomers and seasoned models in the line-up; Georgia-May Jagger, and Karolina Kurkova, respectively. Save for the few exits in all black, this collection was a big breath of fresh air.
More to come…