Fashion Week

London Collections Men, SS14: Part 1

Throughout my six seasons of fashion week-ing I’ve been lucky enough never to go into it ill. Hungover, sure. Stressed, of course. But actually, genuinely, doctors trip worthy ill? Never. Or at least I hadn’t until LCM SS14. Somewhere between end of term deadlines, doing all the various work-y things I’d been putting off until meeting said deadlines and partying like it was 1999 purely because the sun decided to make a (very brief) appearance, my immune system failed me. As LCM approached I was a snivelling wreck with a mouth full of ulcers and a handbag full of assorted antibiotics and painkillers. But of course, the fashion calendar cares not a jot for lurgies so come Sunday morning I was clad in my Peter Pilotto pencil skirt and off to the shows. Deathly though I felt, I did get some satisfaction from the fact that unlike everyone else I was not suffering the after effects of the previous evenings opening parties, thank god for small mercies eh?

London Collections Men

I wore: Skirt: Peter Pilotto, Jacket: Gap, T-Shirt: Zoe Karssen, Necklace: Anne Bowes Jewellery, Bag: Mulberry, Shoes: Vince Camuto, Plasters: Corner shop

After spotting a few of my favourite fashion fellows loitering outside the Hospital Club, we all headed inside for the opening brunch hosted my Dylan Jones and Dermot O’Leary. There’s nothing like a morning mingle to lift the spirits and by the time we set off for presentation number one I felt almost human again.

London Collections Men

John Smedley SS14

Menswear expert I’m most certainly not but I know which labels I love and John Smedley is one of them. Last seasons funky fair isle knits went straight on the wish list and the latest collection contained an endless array of striped tees in kalaidescopic colours. The models were suitably gorgeous in that wholesome, clean cut, preppy way I personally adore. Staged around retro gym equipment, the collection was a chic reimagining of old school sports gear with cute polos and two tone joggers a’plenty. There was a fair amount I fancied taking home with me, and I’m not (just) referring to the models.

London Collections Me

John Smedley SS14

One of the nicest things about LCM is how totally relaxed it is. Much as I adore the dizzying, adrenaline pumping pace of women’s fashion month, three days of casually strolling from show to show with plenty of time to stop for coffee and gossip is a total treat. After a lunch that should have been leisurely but was in fact extremely painful thanks to my ulcer sitch, I tottered through Covent Garden to the St Martins Lane hotel. As you may remember, I adore the place and have spent many enjoyable evenings wining and dining there. For the duration of LCM the hotel had joined forces with MR PORTER to host a mini oasis of phone charging facilities and fabulousness AKA, a blogging suite. With my iPhone battery depressingly depleted I made straight for the suite and indulged in a spot of down time lounging on the king sized bed. Tempted though I was to call it a day, slip into some MR PORTER pyjamas and order room service the next show on my schedule was one I wouldn’t miss for the world, Ada + Nik.

London Collections Men

Ada + Nik SS14

Nik Thakkar is not only a great friend of mine but one of the most multi talented, insanely driven people I know. Not content with owning his own branding consultancy, Nephew London and cult blog, KARL IS MY UNKLE as well as presenting, judging and doing about a zillion other very impressive things, Nik decided to team up with Ada Zanditon to design a menswear collection. As for the collection itself, well, Ada + Nik outdid themselves. Luxe, directional and super sexy without even hinting at tack, every luscious leather piece or slice of razor sharp tailoring was the epitome of fashion forward modernity. A while back I heard rumours that the collection would feature “ethically sourced human hair”. Naturally I’ve been pestering Nik to tell me more ever since (he didn’t) but having finally seen it adorning a jet black tee I can assure that while it may sound weird, it certainly works.

Judging from the responses I spied around the fash packed presentation, I wasn’t the only person to be seriously impressed. Huge congratulations to Nik and Ada, I predict great things ahead.

Up next was my first catwalk show of the day, MAN at the always awesome Topshop venue. For those who don’t know, MAN is the menswear equivalent of Fashion East, the emerging designer support initiative responsible for launching the careers of Jonathan Saunders, Gareth Pugh, Richard Nicoll and Simone Rocha to name but a few.  As one would expect, the FROW was a veritable “who’s who” of industry insiders and I immediately spotted Paula Reed, Natalie Massenet, Dylan Jones and Caroline Rush. But my people watching was soon to be curtailed as the lights dimmed, heralding the first of this season’s chosen three, Bobby Abley. One of the many brilliant things about watching a MAN (or Fashion East) show is the experience of seeing three collections as diverse in style as they are similar in innovation. This was certainly the case with the SS14 line up. Ravensbourne graduate, Bobby Abley kicked things off with a collection that combined kitsch, cartoon prints with high tech fabrics and sportswear silhouettes. Sugary shades and teddy bear prints gave things a playful, pyjama esque feel all the while underpinned by the kind of skill that allowed gossamer fine sheer jersey to come adorned with tweetie bird motifs as if by magic.

London Collections Men

Bobby Abley SS14

Designer number was another newcomer to the MAN catwalk, Dublin born Alan Taylor. A glance at the show notes promised an exploration of “how we perceive the world around us”, a tall order but one that Taylor was evidently more than capable of. At the LCM Opening Brunch that morning, GQ Editor Dylan Jones had described London as the “global home of menswear” and designers like Alan Taylor are proof that might bold statement might have some truth to it. The young Irishman’s SS14 offerings consisted of incredible, reworked tailoring. Classic tweeds and hand painted linens came crafted into a series of oh-so-stylish contradictions; rough hewn yet sleek, clean cut yet unfinished, traditional yet powerfully modern. Taylor’s designs were organic, imaginative and experimental but so skilfully executed it appeared effortless, any menswear designers reading should watch out for this one!

London Collections Men

Alan Taylor SS14

Last but not least was Craig Green. I don’t know whether you remember my post on Craig’s AW13 collection back in January (how time flies!) so to recap briefly, it was bold, brave and brilliant involving sculptural and slightly scar head pieces. Based around the concept of “chaos and control”, Green’s SS14 show took things to the next level. Head dresses were bigger, colours brighter and the designer’s trademark focus on DIY had resulted in an incredible fusion of digital printed and hand-dyed fabrics. Masterful material manipulation and textural juxtaposition married with mesmerising originality. The jury’s still out on whether anyone will or indeed can wear most of it but Craig Green’s sheer talent is undeniable… Budding Gareth Pugh of menswear perhaps?

London Collections Men

Craig Green SS14

By this point my deathly, lurgi situation had made a comeback so I headed to Boots where I demanded the strongest painkillers money could buy (they didn’t help) before making a much needed Starbucks trip. I’m also going to leave this post here in the interest of not actually boring you all to death, more show reports (and pictures of hot boys) coming your way tout suite!

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion Week 6 Comments

London Fashion Week AW13: Day 5

London Fashion Week

I wore… Skirt Suit: Boutique by Jaeger, Poloneck: Uniqlo, Boots: Massimo Dutti, Bag: Mulberry.

After a geriatrically early 8.30pm bedtime on day 4 I awoke on the final morning of London Fashion Week feeling fresh, a fairly rare occurrence as I’m sure you can imagine. First up was Anya Hindmarch, always a pretty major highlight for me because not only do I love her handbags, the woman seriously knows how to put on a show. This season’s theme was “board games” and on each of our seats we found a personalised bracelet featuring an anagram, or rather “Anyagram” of our name. Despite only being in it’s third season, the Anya Hindmarch show is a LFW must-see and everyone from Paula Reed and Alexandra Shulman to Olivia Palermo and Caroline Sieber were on the FROW. The show was a very late started thanks to pretty much every major fash ed in town having to flog their way over from Southwark where Simone Rocha had shown at 9am. I was seated third row center next to the lovely Emily Johnston of Fashion Foie Gras, placing us in prime position for people watching and later watching the spectacle unfold… And what a spectacular spectacle it was! Eventually the lights went up and all at once, the reason behind the collection’s name “Cascade” became clear as the dominoes weaving in and out of Anya’s larger-than-life board game set began to fall revealing beautiful bags which included the most adorable domino clutches. To be honest it’s impossible to describe the show in a way that does it justice so here’s the video instead.

Having shows on the hour, every hour works brilliantly when they’re all at the same venue but rather less brilliantly when they’re scattered all over town. Next on my schedule was Roksanda Ilincic, a good few miles away at The Savoy Hotel ballroom. The idea of taking the tube didn’t massively appeal given that this was my twelth day in very high heels but luckily I bumped into the Marie Claire team who offered my a lift in their car. While kicking back in a chauffer driven Mercedes was a good deal more comfortable than the Bakerloo line, we immediately found ourselves stuck in standstill traffic and very nearly missed the show. Luckily things were running behind schedule as usual and despite not even arriving at the venue until twenty minutes later than the scheduled start we made it in time to see Roksanda’s latest creations. It’s certainly been a good few seasons for the Serbian born stunner, what with dressing the likes of Michelle Obama and the Duchess of Cambridge not to mention countless famous and non famous fashion fans all over the world. Personally what I find most impressive about Ilincic is her continued efforts to develop her aesthetic when she could quite easily just produce variations along the ever-so-elegant cocktail dress theme and do enviably well. Her last two collections began to toy with texture and proportion but this time around Roksanda really pushed the boat out with form fitting cable knit wool dresses, fine tweeds, treated patent leathers and PVC galore. A decidedly non-winter palette of powder pinks and grass greens paired with rich, chocolatey browns was a bold move that certainly paid off and somehow Roksanda made oversized, acid hued hair collars seem like a very good idea indeed. Still elegant and exquisitely crafted but with a newfound hint of punk, her AW13 collection was a testament to the fact that Roksanda Ilincic is about a lot more than just glam gowns.

London Fashion Week

Roksanda Ilincic AW13

By this point I was hankering after an salmon box badly so after grabbing a copy of the AMAZE Grazia Fashion Week issue I hit the nearest itsu for a bit of R&R. My twin cravings for sushi and gossip sated, I headed to Marylebone where Matches were hosting the “House of Grazia” at their Welbeck Street HQ. Two of my fave fashion forces teaming up to deliver a series of designer Q&A’s, talks and sartorial tutorials during London Fashion Week sounded like an absolute dream but I’d been so busy I hadn’t managed to attend anything but the final session was Jonathan Saunders in conversation with Grazia’s Editor-in-Chief, Jane Bruton and there was no way in hell I was going to miss that! Despite being visibly exhausted from the strains of his show (and no doubt wild after party) a couple of evenings previously, Jonathan was every bit as charming, sincere and impressive as I remembered from the weekend I spent with him in Doha a couple of years ago.

 London Fashion Week

Jonathan Saunders in conversation with Jane Bruton

I won’t regurgitate his answers on here because you can watch the whole thing on the Grazia website but what I found most fascinating (aside from his insanely chiselled cheekbones) was Jonathan’s attitude to the creativity V commerce debate. As far as the talented Scot is concerned, fashion design is about making and selling clothes that women want to, and do, wear rather than translating a work of art onto a dress. Tempted though I was to stick around after the talk for a latte and to just generally bask in the loveliness of 23 Welbeck Street I had precisely ten minutes to get to Soho for the Ostwald Helgason presentation. I remember seeing Susanne Ostwold and Ingvar Helgason’s designs back when I first started blogging and being seriously impressed with their work and not understanding why it never seemed to crop up again. Until now that is. After two truly terrible years during which they lost the majority of their stockists and had their request to show on the London Fashion Week schedule and their application for the NewGen sponsorship requested, Ostwold Helgason are back with a vengeance, some forty five stockists and legions of stylish devotees. Having showcased their AW13 collection in New York the previous week, the design duo brought their new season wares to Blighty where Moda Operandi’s Artistic Director Taylor Tomasi Hill was hosting a tea party-cum-presentation for them at Kettners.

London Fashion Week

London Fashion Week

Since starting showing in the Big Apple last February, the label’s cool, covetable and ultra wearable aesthetic has really started to be recognised as the ingenius fashion formula it is. This time around they delivered an array of bold and beautifully crafted pieces that exuded a playful yet practical modernity. With its crisp collared shirt-dresses, stratement knits and eye-popping, tomboy tailoring the latest Ostwald Helgason looked a little like the love child of Carven and Opening Ceremony. Suffice to say, they’ve definitely got one more devotee in me.

Much like every other day of fashion week, I didn’t have any time to hang around on Tuesday afternoon. After grabbing a snap with star of Sh*t Fashion Girls Say, P’TRIQUE, who just so happened to walk in at that moment, I leapt in the nearest cab and made a mad dash to Somerset House for my final show of the season, Maria Grachvogel. Maria’s is another of the shows I’ve attended for a good five seasons now and it’s been really interesting to see how she repeatedly puts a fresh spin on her signature fluid drapery. This season the designer looked to “the beauty of winter decay and introspection provoked by witnessing the changing seasons” for inspiration, resulting in a collection that progressed from rich autumnal hues of mustard and white-on-black botanical prints to sombre shades of lichen, bone, oxblood (another AW13 obsession) and deepest teal. There was something beautifully melancholic about the collection, with haunting barren tree motifs barely visible on fragile chiffon creations. It was a striking departure from SS13′s pastel hued prettiness and the season before’s deco glamour. Personally what I was wowed by Maria’s introduction of a new tailored silhouette, who’d have guessed that a designer who’d spent two decades doing dreamy drapery could deliver such a fierce cinched waist peplum dress? Texture provided another point of intrigue as besides flowing fabrics such as chiffon and softest jersey the collection also featured woven jacquards, degrade wool, printed velvet and some truly excellent knitwear. But just as a shearling lined, belted coat paired with cigarette pants had me wondering whether we’d seen the last of Maria’s trademark frocks she closed the show with a billowing, ethereal floor sweeper, confirming at least in my mind that this was one of her most impressive collections yet.

London Fashion Week

Maria Grachvogel AW13

So, after God knows how many shows, presentations, Starbucks lattes and glasses of champagne, fashion week had drawn to a close. Or at least for me it had. Much as I wished I was doing Milan and Paris, at the Moda Operandi tea Caroline Issa mentioned that she would be flying out at 6am the next morning and I certainly didn’t envy her that! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my antics and never fear, I’ve got a few more exciting things to share over the next few months.

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion Week 6 Comments

London Fashion Week AW13: Day 4 Continued

With every show I attended on day 4, my love for London Fashion Week grew that little bit stronger. Few designers exemplify the creatively liberated, Central Saint Martins taught, magpie style for which British fashion is celebrated more than Louise Gray. She can always be relied on to put two fingers up at good taste and this season was no different. The collection was a cacophany of riotous colours, wildly clashing prints and assorted textures thrown together with reckless aplomb in a way that so shouldn’t work but somehow aways does. Hats may have come courtesy of Stephen Jones but they were still made out of bin bags. Commercially orientated Gray most certainly isn’t but break down the looks, lose the madcap make up and many of these pieces will no doubt find their way into fashion forward wardrobes come September.

London Fashion Week

Louise Gray AW13

By this point I was in dire need of sustainence and frankly, a bit of a breather, so I headed to The Apartment (an ingenious bloggers sanctuary where we can hang out, eat, work and meet all manner of brands, arranged by the ever impressive Abi Marvel) to regroup before my final show. After all, it wouldn’t do to be feeling (and looking) anything less than my best for Burberry.

Since attending my first Burberry show a few back in 2011, it’s always been a major London Fashion Week highlight. Every season I get a familiar butterflies in my tummy sensation as I approach the vast Hyde Park venue and see the crowds of people lined up outside. Once I’d taken my seat in between fellow bloggers Ella of Coco’s Tea Party and Emily of Fashion Foie Gras I set about people watching as Burberry always attracts an A list crowd. This time around was no different and I spied everyone from Anna Wintour and Emmanuelle Alt to Freida Pinto, Kate Beckinsale, Rita Ora, Rosie Huntington-Whitley and Tinie Tempah on the FROW.

London Fashion Week

From left: Michelle Dockerty, Rosie Huntington-Whitley, Freida Pinto, Rita Ora & Kate Beckinsale

After much milling and mingling the show began and what a show it was! Burberry Prorsum SS13 was one of those collections that I liked at the time but since seeing again in September, I’ve really fallen for. As for AW13, well, it was love at first sight and appropriately so because it became clear early on that Christopher Bailey was in a romantic mood this season. Surprised though many of us were when the Yorkshire born designer cited saucy sixties showgirl, Christine Keeler as his inspiration, re-imagining the brand’s trademark trench in latex was a stroke of genius and looked oh-so-right on the runway. Then again, it’s Bailey’s knack for infusing the Burberry heritage with just the right amount of provocation that has made him such a successful Creative Director. As well as trenches, pencil skirts, shift dresses and other style staples were given a hint of kink by way of latext, leather and high shine PVC in shades of soft nude and rich oxblood. Another key and highly covetable component of the collection was print, namely cute heart motifs and naughty leopard spots. Silhouettes were kept classic and waists cinched allowing for everything from leather fringing to snakeskin and cowprint calf hair to be incorporated into the collection while shimmering stripes and luxurious knitwear provided yet more sell-out separates.

London Fashion Week

Burberry Prorsum AW13

One of my favourite things about attending the Burberry show is the inevitable element of spectacle. Who could forget Bailey quite literally making it rain for AW12? Or the kaleidescopic parade of metallic trenches for SS13? This time around he went above and beyond with a surprise that had half the guests standing up in their seats. About half way through the walls at the end of the runway parted revealing musician Tom Odell and his band who proceeded to serenade Cara, Karlie, and Jourdan strutting their stuff for the remainder of the show… As Mondays go, day 4 of London Fashion Week AW13 was certainly a good one!

Burberry Prorsum Womenswear Autumn-Winter 2013 Show Finale

Burberry Prorsum AW13 finale

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion Week 3 Comments

London Fashion Week AW13: Day 4

London Fashion Week

I wore… Jumper & Jacket: Jaeger London, Skirt: Urban Outfitters, Shoes: Isabel Marant, Shirt: Paul & Joe Sister, Bag: BoBelle London.

London Fashion Week day 5 was a very early start which, given the fact I’d had a not so early night, was more than a little bit painful. It took a LOT of effort to drag myself out of bed but I certainly wasn’t going to miss Peter Pilotto. The dynamic design duo have been a favourite of mine (and basically everyone else’s) for fair few seasons now and the fact that everyone from Leandra Medine (who apparently owns the Isabel Marant stiletto heeled cowboy boots in every colour… jel) to Natalie Massinet made it there on time was a testament to how in demand they’ve become. The collection itself was, dare I say it, one of the duo’s strongest yet. Slightly harder edged than last season’s offerings, the printmasters offered up sculptural shapes and a fiery palette that exuded in-your-face (but very stylish) attitude. Besides the cacophany of kaleidescopic prints there was embossed leather, gold embroidery and a medley of textures ranging from ponyskin to incredible, woven fabrics. Cinched waists, flared hems and svelte silhouettes were given a futuristic feel with slicked back hair while scuba detailing and sweatshirts introduced an element of atheltic chic unlike any other incarnation of “sports luxe” you or I have ever seen. All in all, it was an utterly incredible and inspiring collection from one of the most exciting labels in the business. I suspect there may be another Peter Pilotto pre-ordering “incident” on my part this season.

London Fashion Week

Peter Pilotto AW13

I felt a good deal more sprightly after leaving the show and made for the nearest Starbucks in an attempt to thaw myself out with the help of an extra hot latte. Unfortunately my time tested cold battling technique failed me on this occasion and by the time I arrived at Somerset House I felt like an icicle. But, my weather woes  were soon forgotten after taking my seat next to fellow bloggers Ella and Naomi for the Michael van der Ham show. Michael is another London designer who’s work I adore and have watched develop from the start. Having fallen hard for Van Der Ham’s past three or four collections, I was unsure whether it would actually be possible to top them this season… Well, it was. Michael’s AW13 woman might be a little more subversive than last seasons pastel clad princess but this new, moody undertone worked perfectly in combination with richly elaborate fabrics. The patchworking techniques that first captured the fashion world’s attention have come a long way and they were pretty incredible to begin with. This time around we were treated to artfully worked creations in everything from silk crepe and crisp cotton to opulent brocades and gossamer fine chiffon. A darkly seductive palette of forest green, navy, khaki and russet was enhanced with fiery red print and shimmering metallic embroidery. I don’t have the slightest clue how Michael achieved the almost burnt effect that added an air of divine decay to his rich fabrics but, like the painstaking silver embellishment of cuffs and frankly the entire collection, it was completely and utterly exquisite.

London Fashion Week

Michael Van der Ham AW13

The next show on my schedule was one of the most hotly anticipated of the week, Christopher Kane. We all piled onto the press bus and headed in the direction of Cannon Street. Or at least, we tried to. Attempting to drive through central london on a Monday is never exactly problem free but on this occasion the traffic was stationary. Eventually we decided to walk it instead and piled out of the bus and set off in a rabble of handbags and ridiculous shoes, no doubt surprising a few bankers on their lunch break. As soon as we arrived at the venue it was clear that our panic was unfounded, the venue was actually on the top floor of a very tall building and getting everyone in the lifts took almost half an hour. After much jostling we were all in our seats so the show could begin, and what a show it was! If day 4 proved anything to me is that nowhere breeds fearless fashion talent like london. The New York shows may be bigger, bolder and more impressive in terms of A List FROW factor but many collections could (and do) walk straight off the runway and into women’s closets. Not that I’m knocking this, there’s certainly nothing wrong with wearability. But watching the likes of Christopher Kane’s imaginative, innovative creations on the catwalk is really quite extraordinary.

Unless you’ve been living under a highly unfashionable rock for the past few months, you’ll be well aware that PPR, French luxury multi-holdings company  who own Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Bottega Venetta to name but a few, recently bought at 51% stake in the Chistopher Kane brand. Given the calibre of Kane’s collections as a independent (read: financially limited) designer, expectations were high now he’s joined the ranks of Stella McCartney and the late, great Alexander McQueen. With a 60 look show that elicited gasps of awe from attendees including Donatella Versace and Salma Hayeck, the talented Scotsman most certainly delivered. The collection opened with a succession of camouflage looks in shades of khaki, cobalt and burgundy (I spy a trend here!) ranging from mini kilts to dresses and coats trimmed in lashings of fur. High shine technical fabrics, sculpted silhouettes and asymmetric hemlines proved that while military chic is back in a big way for AW13 (see Prabal Gurung in New York), it comes in many different incarnations. But army cool wasn’t the only thing on the menu at Christopher Kane, not by a long way. Up next came luscious velvet ensembles deliciously deconstructed with intricate laser cut detailing. The show was truly a remarkable feat of fabric manipulation and sheer sartorial bravery. Some garments were trimmed or even entirely constructed from stiffened feathers. In other cases, semi sheer organza was fashioned origami style into corsages to create exquisitely pretty ensembles with a punky, rough edged twist. Then came an array of simple black looks enhanced with prints so vivid they made your head spin. Finally Kane turned his hand to evening wear with glittering looks covered with unidentifiable (for me anyway) but exquisite sparkling tentacle esque embellishments that gave the impression of dresses visibly crackling with electric energy.

London Fashion Week

Christopher Kane AW13

The show took us through an astonishingly broad yet utterly cohesive range of influences and techniques, truly demonstrating the skill of the designer. If anyone had any doubt that Christopher Kane belonged on PPR’s roster of international super brands then this gobsmackingly brilliant collection will surely have dealt with them.

As I’ve mentioned a couple of times already, the end of a fashion show always heralds and undignified and often frankly dangerous stampede for the exit. Well given the difficulties accessing Christopher Kane’s top floor venue, the scramble to get out was unlike any other I’ve seen. While queueing for the lifts I spied a few people slipping out of the fire exit and decided to join them. Once we reached the ground floor (which took a while… hundreds of stairs in very high heels) I found myself at the end of another queue because it transpired that the way out was through one of those alarmed, “open only in an emergency” doors. After much jostling and debate over whether or not we should just open it anyway someone decided to take the plunge and we piled out onto the street to the sound of the promised alarm wailing and suddenly I felt like a badly behaved fourteen year old skiving chapel all over again. Once again this post is starting to veer into essay territory so I think I’ll leave the rest for next time.

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion Week Leave a comment

London Fashion Week AW13: Day 3

The Sunday of London Fashion Week posed a few scheduling issues due to three of my absolute favourite brands deciding to show at three different venues within the space of an hour and a half. In theory, attempting to attend them all sounds nuts but given that the labels in question were Whistles, Mulberry and Temperley, did I really have any other choice?!

London Fashion Week

I wore… Jacket: Theory, Skirt: Carven, Bag: Mulberry, Shoes: Kurt Geiger, Jumper: Mango, Necklace: Anne Bowes Jewellery

Having managed to tear myself away from Rhi Rhi’s bash the night before (smug moi?) at a relatively reasonable hour, I trotted down to Dover Street with a spring in my step and a steaming Starbucks latte in my hand, excited to see what my beloved Whistles had in store for AW13. Given the ridiculously tight turnaround between that and my next show I felt ever-so-slightly tense but all angst faded as soon as the first look hit the runway. Jane Shepardson never ceases to amaze me with her intuitive knowledge of what women want to wear. Since she took the rains back in 2008 Whistles has gone from forgotton-by-fashion, slightly mumsy brand to purveyor of cutting edge, covetable cool. I felt that this collection, and the fact that the likes of Liberty London Girl risked missing Mulberry to see it, was a testament to the transformation it’s undergone. Camo print is proving to be a major trend for AW13 (more on that later) and the Whistles show opened with a series of army inspired looks boasting sculptural silhouettes and utility detailing. Another next season fashion obsession is leather (probably don’t need to tell you that by know) and Jane’s latest offerings included some of the most stylish skins I’ve spotted in shades of classic black, deepest navy and forest green. There were also marbled prints and chunky knits that will no doubt sell out in seconds while darkly glimmering sparkle reminded us that Whistles also caters for after dark. Overall the collection epitomised the kind of sleek femininity that feels so relevant now and best of all, provided those of us without mega bucks to buy into it.

London Fashion Week

Whistles AW13

So I mentioned in one of my New York posts that the end of a fashion show always heralds an unholy and deeply undignified stampede to leave the venue? In that respect none of those shows had anything on Whistles! The models took their final turn at approximately 10.51am, 9 minutes before Mulberry was due to start. According to my ever helpful Google Maps App the walk to Claridges was around half a mile and would take 11 minutes. While fashion shows generally always start late, this was Mulberry and I didn’t want to take any chances. So I decided to run the entire way, wearing 6 inch heels, possibly not world’s best decision. By the time I arrived (in under the google maps advised time) I was a sweaty mess and in danger of fainting. Naturally the show started almost half an hour behind schedule but hey, at least I didn’t miss it. Mulberry always give excellent FROW and this season’s line up was suitably A List. On one side sat Anna Wintour bedecked in new season Prada, on the other were Alexa Chung, Lana Del Rey and Juno Temple.

London Fashion Week

London Fashion Week

From right: Alexa Chung, Lana del Rey & Juno Temple

I absolutely, unadulteratedly adored Mulberry’s SS13 collection so my hopes were high for this season. Luckily, and not surprisingly, I wasn’t disappointed. Inspired by rural England, Emma Hill offered up botanical prints rich shades of forest green (I spy another trend!) and navy blue. There was a homespun meets high fash air to the collection thanks to iconic checks and thick tweeds incorporated into everything from sparkle trimmed capes to sequin embellished shift dresses. Voluminous leg-of-mutton sleeves upped the catwalk anti while glossy leather skirt suits looked so buttersoft it was all I could do not to touch them. Texture is always perfectly executed at Mulberry and this season was particularly luscious with fur, shearling, angora, silk crepe, organza applique and gleaming brocade all on the table. After Cara Delevigne closed the show (natch) the models all trooped out to the rousing tune of “Rule Brittania”. The sight of HRH Anna Wintour applauding certainly made me proud to be British.

London Fashion Week

Mulberry AW13

We all filed out of the Mulberry show to be greeted by hoards of photographers jostling for a shot of Alexa. Assumedly she must have slipped out the back so they had to make do wit the rest of us. I imagine that Suzy Menkes must have been spitting and the sight of such a sartorial “circus”. Next up was Temperley London at The Dorchester hotel. Queue another mad dash across Mayfair in the direction of Park Lane. Fashion Week has evidently fried my brain because despite having my invitation in hand, I turned up at The Grosvenor hotel, rather than the Dorchester. Once he’d recovered from the initial confusion of my bursting in and blabbering nonsensically about a fashion show, the congierge pointed me in the right direction. I took my seat in the venue’s magnificent ballroom and had a good old gawp at the FROW which included a myriad of major fash eds plus Natalie Massinet and Olivia Palermo. I’m always a sucker for Temperley’s deliciously feminine style and last seasons collection, aptly named, ‘Return to Elegance” left me (almost) speechless. With the AW13 show entitled “Byrds” we expected Hitchcock heroines and as always, what Alice promised, she delivered. Temperley’s latest offerings were the absolute epitome of polished femininity. Cinched waists and classic silhouettes perfectly styled with immaculate chignons, cat eye sunglasses and elbow length gloves. Fine organza, blush hued silk and neat navy ribbon trims exuded a delicate charm while strict tailoring and contrasting cobalt and navy looks hinted at darker side of the Temperley woman. From the figure clinging cashmere polonecks that came tucked into printed midi skirts to the exquisite embellishment tastefully adorning Alice’s evening gowns, everything about this collection was perfectly executed in a palette of delicate cream offset with hits of emerald and gold. I got the sense that while the Temperley woman remains timeless and tirelessly tasteful for AW13, much like the silver screen star who served as this season’s inspiration, she doesn’t take sh*t from anyone.

London Fashion Week

Temperley London AW13

I left The Dorchester exhilerated from what, I’m sure you’ll agree, was a frantic but fantastic morning of shows. During fashion week I find it hard to believe that any sort of normal life or work continues but unfortunately, it does. I had deadlines to meet and about a zillion emailed to go through so decided to head home (via itsu of course) and cram in a few hours hard graft before heading back out later on. Having completed about half of the things on my never-ending “to do” list, watched an episode of Gossip Girl and changed into my new season Whistles leopard jacquard cocktail dress (they were having a party that evening) I headed back over to Somerset House for my last show of the day, Marios Schwab. I know I say this every season but Marios’ was the first show I ever managed to wangle my way into when I attended London Fashion Week for the first time ever back in September 2010. I remember catching a glimpse of Caroline Sieber on the FROW and not being able to believe my luck at attending such a fabulous event. I’m pleased to say that six seasons, three continents and God knows how many shows on, I still have a few “pinch me I’m dreaming” moments every fashion week. This is slightly off topic I know but it’s very easy to start taking the whole thing for granted when actually being there at all is pretty extraordinary, so I just felt it needed to be said. Anyway, enough of my rambling and back to the matter at hand.

London Fashion Week

Marios Schwab AW13

After a start so delayed it put New York to shame, the show opened with a succession of sculpted micro mini shift dresses enhanced with ornate black embroidery and matching ankle length capes. There was an air of the otherworldly to them and an implied complexity, both in terms of design and inspiration. At the same time take away the cape, add a stylish starlet and you could easily imagine spotting one at a fashion party. Indeed it was a collection was full of dualities and the whole thing was slightly odd, but not in a bad way. Embroidered PVC and rich velvets in a palette of pink, burgundy, russet and brown harked back to an earlier age yet were also powerfully futuristic. Fluted sleeves and more caped dresses would have felt almost medieval were they not constructed from complex, high tech fabrics. As always, Marios delivered a few truly jaw dropping, red carpet numbers and the final look – a floor sweeping, nude gown that was almost entirely sheer save for strategically placed glimmers of silver – was nothing short of mesmerizing.

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Fashion Week 5 Comments