Having ever-so-slightly overdone it on the first evening of London Fashion Week and then attended six shows the following day, by the time night two rolled around I could barely summon the energy to drag myself home to bed, let alone hit the town. One good night’s sleep and several episodes of Gossip Girl later I felt like a new and significantly less grouchy person as I slipped into outfit number three and set off to Somerset House.
Shoes: Kurt Geiger
Necklace: Anne Bowes Jewellery
Marios Schwab was the first show I ever saw, back when I made my London Fashion Week debut. Quite how I managed to wangle an invite that season still remains a mystery but I certainly wasn’t complaining! Two years on, things are rather different, but I’m always reminded of my first, magical fashion week experience every time that particular ticket arrives.
As a fashion insider favourite, Marios Schwab always pulls in a good FROW and this season’s line up included Portia Freeman, Leigh Leizark, Kim Hersov, Suzy Menkes and the ever-fabulous Anna Dello Russo. Having absolutely adored Marios’ AW12 collection, I was excited to see what the Greek designer had in store for us next Summer and the designers’ latest offerings did not disappoint. At first glance the show notes seemed a little confusing, citing Marios’ inspiration as the humble bee. Reading on I discovered that it wasn’t the insect’s appearence that provided a starting point for what was to be a highly sophisticated collection, rather it was the painsktaking way in which the bee works to produce a beautiful and complex honeycomb structure. All at once things started to make a little more sense and I could see the designer’s source reflected in his innovative fabric manipulation that encompassed everything from pleated skins and mesh layers to geometric motif knits, cobweb lace and elastic panelling. But it wasn’t just bees who got a look in. Marios’s SS13 collection was entitled “Cha Oh Ha” (or “in the wilderness” for those not fluent in Navajo) for a reason. Fringing, tassles and plaited leather sandals, reimagined in technological and luxury fabrics created a modern interpretation of tribalism with a sleek and seductive feel.
To the untrained eye, the London Fashion Week line up no doubt looks pretty packed but in fact, the official scheudle doesn’t tell you the half of it. On top of the God-knows-how-many designers showing or presenting at Somerset House – or in the case of really big names some other, even more fabulous location – a vast number of emerging, independent designers also showcase their collections around the city, thus forming the LFW “off schedule” contingent. Confusingly enough, in New York it’s generally the big name brands (think Alexander Wang, Mark Jacobs etc) who don’t appear on the official agenda… But anyway, I digress. My second show of the day was that of talented up-and-comer, Charlie May who was sharing her latest creations at The Stafford Hotel in Mayfair. Charlie’s unique take on feminine minimalism has earned her a loyal fash pack following, as proved by the stellar turnout at her first ever catwalk show. And the gaggle of fashion week-ers who’d hot footed it over from Somerset House certainly weren’t disappointed. For SS13 the designer (who, FYI, only graduated in 2010) offered up the clean cuts, fluid shapes and pared down elegance that have come to be her calling card in a palette of dove greys, soft nudes and palest blush tones. With embellishment, print and colour kept to such a minimum, fabric quality is of paramount importance and the buttersoft leather, delicate chiffon and crisp cotton that made up Charlie’s latest looks oozed understated sophistication. Simple shirtdresses, sleeveless waistcoats and one particularly delectable peach halterneck dress had the crowd in raptures but personally I’ve got my eye on her amazing linen biker (below – image by Sherry Liqing Luo).
Show number three was one I particularly look forward to every season, Temperley London. The brand always chooses a fabulous venue and this time around they opted for The Grand Connaught Rooms in Covent Garden. My fellow bloggers and I were allocated the VIP Balcony which not only made us (and by us, I mean me) feel pretty smug but also provided the most fantastic view of the collection. And what a collection it was! Opening with a sequence of full skirted sundresses featuring cinched waists, ribbon skirts and sheer organza panelling, “Return to Elegance ” delivered precisely what it’s title suggested. In a palette of red, white and blue with a few exquisite black crochet numbers at the end, Alice Temperley conjured up a vision of Riviera chic that exuded effortless polish. Prints were kept delicate, brocades subtle-yet-luxe and not one single hemline hit above the knee. Gauze veils, chic chignons and fabulous hats brought to ming images on 1950′s screen sirens and sparingly applied sparkle added that Temperley touch of glamour I adore so much. In a nutshell, I left the show thinking “I want ALL OF IT!”
Sunday was one of those wonderful fashion week days where you have a selection of truly fantastic shows to attend, with enough time in between to take a breath, pick up an itsu Salmon box and give your blistered feet a few minutes rest. Given that this was the 10th consecutive day in ridiculous heels, half an hour’s foot break hear and there was certainly not to be sniffed at! With a bit of time to spare I decided to pop home for a breather. Usually I avoid doing this between shows in case the allure of pyjamas, tea and Mad Men re-runs becomes too overwhelming. On this occasion I had no such fear as my final show of the day was none other than Jonathan Saunders.
I can’t help but feel that Jonathan Saunders is to London what Alexander Wang is to New York… i.e, the hotter-then-hot designer who’s show everyone wants to be at. I couldn’t quite believe my luck at having been allocated a ticket so decided to arrive 40 minutes early just to be on the safe side. Thankfully, I hadn’t been the victim of a postal mix up or practical joke so was spared the embarassment of having to walk back past the fashionable masses pouring in to The Tate Modern (insane venue I know) which, unsurprisingly included everyone from Alexandra Shulman and Hamish Bowles to Laura Bailey and Olivia Palermo. While outside I spied a rather nervous looking Jonathan popping out for a hasty cigarette. A couple of looks in I understood his pre-show jitters as his latest creations posed a strong contrast to what we’ve seen over the past few seasons.
Gone were last summer’s pastel hues, floral motifs and ultra feminine, retro silhouettes. Similarly AW12′s prim elegance was nowhere to be seen and in it’s place came something rather more modern. This season’s offerings were all about high tech fabrics, so exquisitely striking it was almost impossible (for me anyway) to work out what they were made of. High shine metallics, printed leather and coloured laminate all came in to play, as did shimmering, scale esque detailing that could have been opaque plastic discs, pailette sequins or something in between. Stripes, swirls and semi sheer patterns appeared on everything from dip die hued trouser suits to crop top and midi skirt combos in a palette of in-your-face hues that owed no allegience to any specifc season. Much as I adored the buttoned-up chicness of Saunders’ past few collections, the nonchalant sex appeal of his latest creations soon won me over. I mean, fluid, bias-cut, sequinned numbers that move like a dream and scream ‘ready-to-party’… Could anyone really resist that?
Love Ella. X