Topshop Unique gave us a shiny view from the high street
Unpatriotic though it may be to admit it, one of the most important names at London fashion week is Saint Laurent. The allure of Hedi Slimane-era Saint Laurent is plain as day in the front row, where YSL-initialled bags have overtaken Chanel 2.55s as the trophy of the hour. Topshop, having taken an accurate temperature reading among the in-crowd, produced a collection that mixed Saint Laurent’s insouciant party-girl cool with the 1980s-Kings-Road-Saturday-night vibe zooming up on fashion’s inside lane. A sleazy-shiny skirt worn with a tweed biker and a polo neck, and a lush milk-chocolate velvet jumpsuit, hit catwalk gold.
Jonathan Saunders offered a modern update of the 70s trend
Stockpile those polo necks with abandon, because the 70s are not going anywhere. The decade was the headline influence on this London fashion week, from folksy embroidery and flares to round sunglasses and fringing. Jonathan Saunders, in his first collection since gaining the firepower of a serious backer, gave the strongest modern update on the decade with tunics layered over 70s-skiwear polo necks. See also: Roksanda, where a collection inspired by the 1972 Fassbinder classic The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant was a visual feast of those so-wrong, so-right colours Roksanda does so well (orange with rust with burgundy, say); and Preen, for how to make a floaty dress look foxy-sharp.
Christopher Kane ushered back some classy sex appeal
The long, layered look has a lot going for it. It’s classy, it’s elegant, it’s easy to wear. And yet, sometimes you miss the bend-and-snap attitude you get from clothes with sex appeal. Christopher Kane’s naughty party dresses are the best, because they are brilliantly brazen without ever looking cheap. Even the layered mesh dress sketched with a tangle of naked bodies, the most blatant of Kane’s animal-attraction-fuelled collection, was made classy by the dreamy, balletic layered tulle. A coat scissored at the ribs, and a cocktail dress censored across the breasts with strips of stretchy black tape, made for the hottest show of the week.
Burberry told us that next season’s coat will be suede or quilted
Even Burberry knows that next autumn is not a taupe-trenchcoat moment. The Burberry catwalk – which, for an autumn/winter season, is all about outerwear – began with a poncho of clashing multicoloured prints, and ended with a full-length fringed burgundy suede cape. In between, intricate swirls and florals inspired by Durham quilting swayed along to Clare Maguire’s live soundtrack next to mirror-embroidered suede. Buy a midi-length suede skirt now, and start saving for a jacket next season. Quilting was also a key reference at Hunter, another heritage-rich British outerwear label, so be on the lookout for a fully fledged revival.
JW Anderson pointed us towards the oncoming 80s trend
London is the city where the trend story gets moved on. The 70s are sticking around for ever, but London’s most forward-thinking designers are already looking ahead to the next big thing. Since J W Anderson’s show on Saturday afternoon, the smart money has been on that next-big-thing being the 1980s. The last time fashion mined that decade, it was for boss-lady power dressing. This time around, it’s all about Saturday Night Fever: think circular belt buckles and pushed-down, backing-singer boots. For 1980s inspo, see also: the sheer black tights at Michael van der Ham, and the fuschia silk jumpsuit with silk rope belt and fringed booties at Matthew Williamson.
Erdem maintained London’s status as the city that dresses the art world
The line between Frieze and fashion week was blurred ever further, in a super-chic way, at Erdem’s show. The reigning British Designer of the Year took as his starting point The Collector, the immersive installation recreating a late-1960s Paris apartment that was the buzz-piece at Frieze Masters last autumn. The theme will be catnip to the gallerists, curators and collectors who already swoon over Erdem (as they do over Roksanda, and Mary Katrantzou) and gave him not only the week’s greatest stage set (typewriters and houseplants, splay-legged mid-century furniture, yellowing piles of Paris Match) but a starting point “to think about creating a character as much from her environment as from her clothes”. With rich brocades, cut-out lace and cocktail dresses lush with poppies, an Erdem wardrobe is a modern investment.
Gareth Pugh staged a red-blooded London comeback
Gareth Pugh returned to London fashion week with a collection inspired by Boudicca and football fans of the ultra-tribal, Ing-er-land ilk. It felt like a celebration because, while Paris fashion week is fabulous in many ways, there are certain references (say, Boudicca and Ing-er-land) that don’t translate. The oversized, ink-black, monkey-fur shaggy silhouettes, worn by models with close-cropped hair, was this week’s clearest reference to the upcoming Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty VA show, with its posters of the Horn of Plenty (a set featuring vast black feathers around pale faces with daubed red mouths). Pugh was matched for theatricality – and aced, for sheer beauty – by Giles, who created a ravishing wardrobe for a late-17th century Englishwoman reincarnated as a 21st-century supermodel.
House of Holland brought the girl gang trend home
The travelators that replaced the catwalk at House of Holland weren’t just a gimmick. Instead of prancing along the catwalk, models could stand, feet planted defiantly apart, staring out the photographers: they looked tough. It was the best London showing for a nascent tough-girl-gang trend, which started among the British designers who show in New York: Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley at Marc by Marc Jacobs, and Stuart Vevers at Coach. Henry Holland called his girls “trustafarian street urchins”, which is a cute-yet-acute moniker for his own girl gang – Alexa, Pixie, Daisy and co – who worked their own you-wanna-be-in-our-gang vibe from the front row.