We were transported back into the world of the 60s hippy trail with Christopher Bailey’s latest offering, which has come a long way since the classic Burberry check. From the start it was bold, bright and boho. The collection was called Patchwork, Pattern and Prints, and it was a masterclass in all three. The central theme was fringing, which was used to amazing effect on ponchos, capes, skirts, bags, pretty much everything. It was clashtastic, the boldest print trench coats (which will surely be treated like the clothes versions of antiques in the future) paired with patchwork suede boots. The pom pom bracelets added to the relaxed vibe. The footwear was a triumph, split ankle boots with fringing that gave them a life of their own. The occasional menswear look was spiffing – beautifully cut suits (especially the pants), with a blanket cape thrown around the shoulders for maximum dandyism. As per usual, it was the trenches that stole the limelight – no pattern escaped being part of the most coveted belted coat around – animal print, florals, you name it, it was there. I especially liked the tiny crop black waistcoats over floaty chiffon which made the prints colour pop even more. And those circular shades will surely be the must-have accessory of the season.
Christopher Kane is one of these rare, special creatures that comes along once in a blue moon and makes you realise that fashion is art (I know what I would rather hang on my walls). The journey you take whilst watching his shows is almost spiritual, and today’s collection was not exempt from this feeling of wonder. The sleek coats and suits at the beginning with bold lapels and pockets gave nothing away about what was to come. Then, all of a sudden, human silhouettes started appearing, necks stretching upwards. It was subtly sexual, the sheer panels and snakeskin print which appeared in both fabric and on the boots were firm indications of that. The bandage effect on some looks and the ruffled edges showed both sides of the coin – feminine yet seductive. The interesting safety buckle technique and the lightning bolts also told stories beyond the obvious aesthetic (the electric blue and sheer lightning bolt dress was particularly beautiful). Some other touches are also bound to be coveted – the jewelled effect triple buttons and floral leitmotifs were classic Kane. Then we were treated to the last five looks which were enough to bring tears to my eyes – the nudes used at the beginning of the show reappeared – this time the full body was represented in tulle and Swiss lace – bodies intertwined, screaming desire, stretching, twisting, contorting. On dresses. Look 45, the combination of two bodies reaching for each other above grey, metallic pleats was almost too much. The penultimate dress, with legs flailing around the hem was genius. This was life drawing taken to the nth degree. Stunning.
If Mary Katrantzou is the Queen of Prints, then surely the talented guys behind Peter Pilotto are the Kings. From the word go, beautifully embellished coats, floral patterns, pink shearling snaking around, graphic print split skirts. A garden path like pattern on a coat. Pinball like symmetrical pink, blue and green patterns on tops and dresses, this snakes and ladders like fur/velvet patchwork was a major theme throughout the collection. Skirts were futuristic with two tone waistbands and hems, I really enjoyed the neon train track detail which featured on some pieces. Trying to describe some of the prints is nigh on impossible – most adjectives are related to childhood board games – think Connect 4 and noughts and crosses. Some of the quilted multi-coloured sweaters towards the end were highly wearable. The two printed dresses covered in vertical black lines with shearling colours were triumphs, as were the final three dresses, handkerchief hemmed with broad paint stroked skirts and fitted, panelled bodices with stud-like Meccano pieces. I defy anyone not to need a lie down after this.
Sometimes you don’t want a designer to do a wearable collection. You want them to put their own indelible twist on historical costume; the more over the top, the better. Giles Deacon chose to focus on 17th century Elizabethan features – it was all ruffs, capes and frock coats. There were also pantaloons and jackets with bows on the sleeves and legs. Although I said at the beginning that the collection wasn’t wearable I lied slightly, there were some modern looks, such as the cape dress with a feathered collar, and some of the prints could only be described as futuristic (the pencil dress was particularly hip). Stand out looks included the orange sash over the white ruffled smock and some of the long, flowing dresses mid-show which were beautifully embroidered. The psychedelic print on the coat worn by Saskia de Brauw was perfection. Then it all became darker, but still there were smatterings of colour on a to-die-for cape, a structured floor length skirt and a sash-adorned dress worn by a statuesque Erin O’Connor. The piece de la resistance – the final fan pleated dress which showed off the legs and the talents of Mr Deacon as a designer. Hats (opera gloves and everything else) off.
Day 5 sees Christopher Raeburn, Anya Hindmarch’s bagtastic collection and Ashish.