Monday, 29 February 2016

Zandra Rhodes AW16

We've been getting a lot of seventies and sixties trends on the runway for a few seasons now and the seventies party girl was particularly present at LFW AW16 but she was rarely so vivacious and as pure a channelling of this spirit as at Zandra Rhodes. Considering that this was the decade in which Dame Rhodes was at her most influential and she was alive during it, - unlike many other designers that drew inspiration from disco, Studio 54 and androgynous rockstars who had yet to be born - Rhodes seems like the best possible person to serve it up to us.

The party vibes at her presentation were palpable in both the crowd and clothes. In the crush of bodies, few weren't holding a cocktail or glass of something sparkling and groups stood around discussing the collection - some were even shimmying to the soundtrack of Bowie, Blondie and other greats of the era. The models above lounged or did some shimmying of their own, with one particular model seeming as if lost in a trance-like euphoria. Needless to say, the scene was very much set. All of this was complemented by Dame Rhodes' presence and amiability which saw her do the rounds of the room, chatting and taking all the selfies asked of her.

The clothes themselves were sheer and floaty but bold and bright, like the prevailing atmosphere itself. Kraftangan Malaysia, a brand specialising in fine Malaysian fabrics, partnered with Rhodes once more and saw the designer make use of songket, a fabric usually worn for ceremonial dress in sarongs and headdresses. Brocades, metallics, bell bottoms, head scarves, ruffles, chiffon sleeves, pussy-bow blouses, flowing silhouettes, off-the-shoulder tops, tiered dresses, oversized sunglasses, centre-parted hair and a palette of golds, emeralds and pinks, purples and indigos for both the garments and make-up meant that the seventies influence was very strong but the vision of it that Rhodes presented was so coherent that it could not be confused for pastiche. This collection could only have been produced today with the time and space to look back and pick out the very best that the decade had to offer.

If you're in the market for a party dress come AW16, this collection was simply made for dancing and a good time.












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Sunday, 28 February 2016

palmer//harding AW16

Some shots from the palmer//harding AW16 presentation which saw the label give us deconstructed classic pieces - chewed up, spat out and re-imagined, giving menswear a sexy twist - draping, oversizing, high necks, extra-long sleeves and a subdued palette that made for clothes that were both effortlessly cool and seriously wearable overall.















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Thursday, 25 February 2016

Manuel Facchini AW16

Manuel Facchini's AW16 Presentation, Metamorphosis, drew inspiration from British Sculptor Richard Sweeney and the gothic architecture of Michael Hansmeyer and presented us with brooding looks and beautiful garments. 

The collection saw models, dressed and painted moodily, juxtaposed against the pastel blue walls, cream mouldings, chandeliers and large windows, streaming light, of Carlton House. The effect was all rather dream-like and surreal with all of it emphasised by the fact that the models were raised on plinths and the shard-like sculptural installations dotted about the room which mirrored the already dazzling light as well as the garments, surroundings and observers. It felt a little like one had fallen down the proverbial rabbit-hole.

The clothes themselves were largely monochromatic and all channelled the undulating movement and optical illusions of Sweeney's work in the asymmetric hems and necklines, geometric patterns and pleating. The presence of Hansmeyer, meanwhile, was apparent in the tremendous level of detail at play and the overall atmosphere of the collection. The combination of the two made the gothic into something that felt new and thoroughly organic, as if it was more than the clothes she wore but an expression of the very being of Facchini's girl - but it also felt a little alien. It was as though one was standing amongst the wreckage of some spaceship, surrounded by impossibly beautiful, well-coiffed, stylish and brooding extraterrestrials that were channelling one part goth, one part biker chick.

High necks, bodycon silhouettes, leather, sheer panels, the use of gold, silver and gun metal eyelets embellishing sleeves and trouser legs, lace and layering were all employed but everything was pulled together and made cohesive by that restricted palette and the pervasive atmosphere of the garments as well as the simple styling with a bold eye and slicked back hair.

I can totally get on board (the spaceship) with this.














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Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Sadie Williams AW16

Friday, 19th of February 2016, approx. 12.15pm: It's day one of LFW AW16 and my first show and I have a map of London clutched in my hands. 

Not knowing London always makes getting to shows interesting as I tend to end up taking the scenic route. I get there in the end but it can take a while. So, when I manage to find the ICA for the Sadie Williams presentation, I'm more than a little distracted and out of breath. This daze is, however, blown right away the moment I step inside the building.

Descending from the bright, light-stoned buildings and blue skies of London outside into the black box that is the ICA show space, where the sound of howling wind surrounds and we find ourselves in the midst of an Alpine blizzard, is a shock to the system. And it captures our attention immediately. Unlike at other presentations, few are talking and all attention is firmly fixed at the centre of the room where Williams' girls stand to attention on a mountainous backdrop, positioned amongst ski run flags.

For AW16, Williams took an old photo of her parents on a ski holiday as her inspiration and positively sprinted away, Usain Bolt-style, with it. Chevrons, parka-like quilting, ropes and rock-climbing clips as hair accessories and bag handles - the theme snowballed down the mountain and was thoroughly incorporated throughout. Yet, it was so skillfully entwined with wearable silhouettes and pieces that costume - or actual ski-wear - was avoided. Instead, it produced a charming and playful collection that works "Off Piste", as its title suggested.

As much as Williams wraps her girls up in high-neck sweaters, tartan, thick socks, hiking boots, leather and quilting, she also imbues them with a bit of ski-bunny glamour reimagined. This is cool-girl glamour. There are sequins and glitter aplenty but these are off-set by silhouettes that skim rather than cling, mid-length hems and shiny silvers that lend a certain odd-ball charm. As my immediate notes from the presentation read, this girl is a bit of a "space cowgirl meets futuristic ski bunny".

And I like it.

The primary colours and use of metallics that somewhat reminds of imaginings of the future from the past is nostalgic and nods once more to that initial inspiration from Williams' parents. The use of Highland-inspired tartan alongside the Alpine-inspired prints, meanwhile, kept the collection varied but cohesive.

Another highlight of the presentation has to be the make-up, - part of the wave returning to more understated, bare looks - which saw the models wearing very little product at all bar very rosy cheeks, as if they had just stepped in out of the snow.

If there was an award for most singular and fully realised vision, Williams would definitely be on the shortlist.

But the real question is: how do I get invited on this ski trip?










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Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Name To Note: Jamie Wei Huang AW16

I often don't consider collections from the point of view of whether I would wear them or, even, personally like them. As with film, art or literature, I engage with design that is cohesive, competent, has vision or challenges me, society or expectation. I want a collection to make me think or to feel something.

But, every now and then, there are collections where my most immediate thought is, "Get in my wardrobe." That is not to say that they don't still fit the above requirements but my primary emotion is a deep connection to my own personal tastes. This was the case for Jamie Wei Huang. The moment I spotted the colours and silhouettes across the crowded Designer Showrooms at LFW, it was love. 

These clothes - cute but largely unisex, rich in detail but loose and wearable - are right up my alley. These are clothes I can imagine living in. 

Reds, blues and monochrome shades, knitwear, denim, high necks, oversized coats and jackets, statement sweaters, chunky platforms - these are clothes that are effortlessly cool. Throw on one of the faux-fur collared oversized overcoats over a tee and jeans and you are suddenly pulled together. Pair the red tartan and leather wedges with a little black dress and your outfit is immediately more interesting. Burrow into the denim sweater when you are cold and tired and look like you put a lot more effort into getting dressed than you did.

Not only is there beautiful design going on here that pulls together touches of classic Americana, Scandinavian cool and Asian innovation but there is a wearablity to these garments - the best of both worlds. 

Expect to see Jamie Wei Huang on cool-girl bloggers, indie actors and musicians any day now.

















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