On the Runway

London Fashion Week: Well Coated- From Charles Anastase's Left Bank Looks To John Rocha's Glunge Toppers

Our coverage of the day's top shows

Louise Gray Fall/Winter 2011; Photo by Anthea Simms

Louise Gray Fall/Winter 2011; Photo by Anthea Simms

While Charles Anastase’s name isn’t well known across the pond, this Parisian designer has a cotillion of cool-girl supporters: Charlotte Dellal (front row in clear pvc rain heels), Alexa Chung and in-house muse Valentine Fillol-Cordier. But to my eyes, his charming aesthetic, knit wits and preferred dusty rose palette always channels the divine Sonia Rykiel. Set to sweet Nouvelle Vague records, he opened with cashmere overcoats in princess silhouettes. Caramel and heirloom-red knit sweatersuits with gold buttons running up the back followed, paired with swing ‘70’s flare pants. Anastase has a knack for naivety – who else can make Peter Pan collar corduroy jumpsuits or velvet rompers with sheer chiffon panels look a-ok as opposed to Osh-Kosh?

To many, Louise Gray represents what London fashion is all about: the freedom to design beyond the parameters of wearability and commerciality. Her kooky mix of bonbon wrapper prints, balloon headpieces and paper-chain embellishment was certainly exuberant, but styles often failed to transcend their own eccentricity. I had to remind myself I was looking at clothes, not experiments. That being said, giving these looks the up-and-down (right to the electro-charged Nicholas Kirkwood for Pollini boots) woke me up better than a pressed espresso. 

South Korean designer J. JS Lee describes her signatures as “chic, modernist and minimalist tailoring.” Only two of those proclamations proved to be true. Chic? A pebbled gray notch-collar cape. Modernist? Faux blazer-fronted sweaters. But minimalist? It was too thoughtful, too avant garde and too novel to be given that overused blanket term for clarity. In short, it was strong.

Jaeger may be little known to most North Americans (n.b. lucky Montrealers can shop the line at Oglivy), but in the U.K. one could liken their outerwear chokehold as MaxMarian. They just get great coats, built to last seasonal trends and elements. Under the supervision of design director Stuart Stockdale, the best of these statement shields weren’t even coats at all. Sleeveless styles worn over lush knits and paired with candied-orange leather pants would be perfect fodder for street-style photogs outside the tents.

Here in London, John Rocha is considered a living fashion master. Today, I got why. Top girl Abbey Lee Kernshaw opened the show in a black coat bursting with knit dreadlocks. Smartly paired with platform cutout combat boots – by far the most tweeted footwear in The Big Smoke – it was glunge done right. Textured overcoats, some belted and teacup shaped, fused thick worsted wool with industrial black tinsel. Others melted from tweed to wooly fringe. While one never struggles to find a camel coat to call their own, there is a huge void in the market for Rocha’s brand of high-design outerwear. Think the type of styles that can be worn with dressier evening fare or worn over the simplest of basics to add interest. In the era of the camel coat, few are covering this genre anymore. As for what was underneath it all? Why, I couldn’t even tell you. That’s how smitten I was with Rocha’s divine coaterie.