Every season I attempt to be all work and no play for the duration of fashion week. Every season, this attempt fails. What can I say, I’m young, foolish and extremely partial to free cocktails and fabulous company, things that are offered up in abundence during this magical bi-annual event. After Matches’ celebratory fashion week soiree, my friends and I somehow found ourselves ‘pursuaded’ to continue on to another two parties. This, combined with post-New York exhaustion and jet lag unsurprisingly resulted in my feeling a little fragile when my alarm went off at 7am the next day. One quick glance at my schedule (plus a triple shot latte and several max strength painkillers) soon sorted this out and soon I was back in my heels and ready to hit the road.
Sweater: Boutique by Jaeger
Skirt & Shoes: Topshop
Bag: Anya Hindmarch
My first port of call was the Julian Macdonald showroom in Mayfair where I had a private appointment to see his SS13 collection. Julian is a designer who knows how to do glamour and his latest offerings, ‘Island Life’, delivered it in spades.
From curve clinging, thigh skimming mini dresses to floor length, billowing chiffon gowns, virtually every garment featured dazzling embellishment, ranging from armour like, spiked shoulder detailing to delicately embroidered crystals to head-to-toe bling. Unapologetically opulent and shamelessly seductive, minimalism may not part of Macdonald’s vocabulary but that is precisely why we love him.
Evidently Julian’s designs are also an excellent hangover cure as by the time I left his showroom I felt positively perky! One not-so-brief stroll through Green Park later (day 9 in high heels) I arrived at Somerset House for show number two, Jasper Conran. As befits a designer who’s earnt himself an OBE for services to fashion, Jasper’s FROW was bursting with industry insiders and famous faces including Jasmine Guinness, Olivia Inge, Harold Tillman and Hilary Alexander. Not that I spent the pre-show watch people watching. No, I was far too distracted by the spectacular catwalk set up. In lieu of the usual polished floor, Jasper had opted to send his models down a (faux) grass runway, with floral, neon lights as the backdrop. While I’ve long since given up attempting to predict what designers new collections will be like, you usually have an inkling. Well, Jasper Conran’s SS13 show certainly suprised me. Gone were the classic silhouettes, demure hemlines and delicate palette of the past few seasons and in their place came something a whole lot less shy and retiring. Think Daisy Dukes, thigh skimming broderie anglaise sundresses, leather biker jackets and embellished denim. In place of last seasons muted hued Princess cuts and pie crust collars came shimmering, sequinned mini dresses and eye-popping hues. While pared down tailoring and immaculately cut trench coats provided something a little more grown up for the seasoned Conran customer, the overall aesthetic was fun, young and more than a little bit naughty. Personally I prefer the preppy stuff but you’ve got to admire such a bold change of direction.
Oh the joys of being an Editor, or at least working for a large publication with a stonking great budget. Getting ferried from show to show in a chauffeur driven Mercedes would make Fashion Week SO much more relaxing. No wonder they always look so damn stylish! Sadly the LPA budget just about covers public transport and the odd taxi (provided I’ve gone easy on the shopping) so after Jasper’s show I had to make a high speed, high-heel dash to Mercer Street Studios, arriving out of breath and sweaty. But seeing as show number two was Holly Fulton, no hangover or number of blisters could stop me making it. Now I know I’ve said this a fair few times but just for good measure, I’ll say it again; I feel that fashion should make you happy and that’s why I always adore Holly’s collections. Her SS13 creations were, as expected, I joyous riot of colours, textures and influences. Inspired by a trip to LA earlier this year, the designer offered up bubblegum hues and a cacophany of prints, ranging from in-your-face florals to cheeky naked ladies and jazzy aztec motifs. I’m always astounded by Holly’s incredible use of fabric and this season was no different. Coloured PVC was inlaid with painstakingly embellished blooms and crafted into playful sundresses while snakeskin, raffia and plastic cropped up on everything from pencil skirts to handbags. Varsity jackets, short sleeved shirts and louche silk trousers reflected the concept of an American road trip, combined with retro sunglasses, cutesy hairclips and piled on jewellery made for a gloriously girly and irrepressibly optimistic collection.
One of my favourite things about fashion week is the vast contrast you often see between two consecutive shows. This was certainly the case between Holly’s fabulously more-is-more style and that of the next designer on my schedule, Todd Lynn. This season Lynn cited Africa as his inspiration (think Heart of Darkness rather than Lion King) and his models pounded the catwalk to a booming, tribal beat. While this may have been a surprising starting point, the skill with which he crafted each look wasn’t. Opening with his own take on the safari suit – sculpted, sleek and modern – and culminating with a sequence of fiercely seductive silk dresses, Todd Lynn’s interpretation of the Masai Mara was every bit as directional as one would expect from the designer. Utility touches such as oversized pockets and zip detailing were in keeping with the African theme as was the jungle esque palette of khakis through to forest green and sunset prints. As for the subtly distorted proportions, treated leather and deconstructed black gowns that came at the end, those were just Todd Lynn doing his thing.
Between minimal sleep, lots of running around and excessive cocktails consumption, by this point I was in dire need of complex carbs and caffeine. Luckily I just so happened to have an hour to spare so I headed straight for Starbucks. Feeling altogether more human after consuming an extremely tasty chicken panini and several lattes in rapid succession, I headed back to Somerset House for my next show, John Rocha. John’s sculptural, fantastical creations always mesmerize me and this season, I fell more in love than ever. Much as I appreciate the elegance of his signature palette of creams and blacks, I’m more than a little bit partial to colour. So when the first look emerged in a brilliant shade of crimson I knew this collection was going to be a particularly good one. The designer’s exploration of summer hues – inspired by time spent in Provence – extended to lemon yellow, sky blue, blush lilac and rose pink in layers of light-as-air silk organza and delicate, chiffon brocades. John Rocha’s use of texture is virtually unparallelled the voluminous silhouettes which graced his catwalk this season were created by way of three dimensional embellishment, appliqued patchworks and ruffles of picot lace.
London Fashion Week Day 2 was a bit of a marathon and despite having been going since the crack of dawn, I still had 2 more shows to go. Next up was House of Holland. The brand’s ever-novel invitations this season had come in the form of an iPhone case which, rather amusingly, resulted in every single person on the Press Bus toting matching phones. This season the designer known for his happy-go-lucky aesthetic decided to go grunge, albeit grunge with a hefty pinch of salt. The show opened with oversized checks in deliberately off-shades of yellow, blue and purple before moving in to kaleidescopic tie-dye’s and neon bright hues. Punchy prints, sugary metallics and cobweb lace inserts made for a playful take on the Nirvana aesthetic while bling encrusted beanies and glitter finished erred just on the right side of trashy.
Re-energised by Henry’s vibrant collection we filed out of the NCP Carpark (odd sounding venue but it works, trust me) and headed back to Somerset House for final show of the day, Issa London. Personally I couldn’t have chosen a better collection with which to finish a long and exhausting day as while avant guard they most certainly ain’t, Daniella Helayel’s creations are always a delight to behold. According to the show notes, this season sees the Issa woman journey to the Garden of Eden, resulting in hot-house brights, flowing fabrics and eye-wateringly vivid motifs. Billowing chiffon ensembles in tropical prints exuded exotic charm while slinky, silk jersey gowns oozed sophisticated opulence. If there’s one thing Brazilian beauty Daniella knows, it’s how to do summer glamour and this season’s offerings were bold, seductive and undeniably Goddess worthy.
Love Ella. X