Let’s be honest, the “it” in question could be any number of things. Frankly it would be far easier to name the trends, garments and general fashion moods not in some way influenced by or deliberately pilfered from French arbiter of all things chic, Céline. Low key luxe (duh), wide leg trousers, socks with sandals, label free it bags, double denim, summer leather… Whether you’re shopping at Armani or Primarni, I guarantee that the genius of Phoebe Philo has reached you in some way, shape or form. This time around the taste making move in question appears not to be a trend or far reaching aesthetic (although Céline continues to kickstart those too) but a specific garment. Namely, the pink coat. Roughly this time last year Philo sent two coats down the catwalk both of which were predictably and exquisitely understated in their immaculately crafted simplicity, save for the colour. The first was a dusky pink oversized mohair creation, the second a glossy fuscia pelt. In-your-face pink is not necessarily a shade usually associated with Céline but yet it seemed so right. The pared back, modern elegance and mannish silhouettes of the garments provided the perfect foil for their deliciously bright, shamelessly pretty hues.
Whatever your shade of choice may be – candyfloss, powder, baby, magenta – the colour pink itself is nothing new. What struck me, and has evidently struck the rest of the fashion world too, was its place within an otherwise frill-free collection. The message was clear, pink isn’t just for girly girls and summer frocks, it can be grown up and serious too. I might be wrong (not a rare occurence) but thinking back over my shopping experiences these past few winters, there seems to have been a dirth of pink outerwear. Khaki, olive, navy, burgundy, tweed, camel, black and even scarlet all get a look in but pink coats, or at least ones that can legitimately be worn over the age of six, have been few and far between. Well, not any more. Not since Empress of all that is cool, Phoebe Philo decreed it. During AW13 fashion month pink coats cropped up on the catwalk at Jonathan Saunders, Roksanda Ilincic, John Rocha and Topshop Unique… And that was just in London! Across the pond in Paris, purveyors of Scandi minimalism Acne Studios delivered an incredible sculpted number and Guillaume Henry’s candy hued confections made him the talk of fashion week. Naturally it was Philo herself who delivered the ultimate take on the trend she kickstarted last year.
From left: Jonathan Saunders, Roksanda Ilincic, Carven & Céline AW13
While I probably won’t be snapping up the Céline version or even one of Carven’s snuggly coverups (sob!) their solid presence on the AW13 runways will no doubt mean that pink coats will be all over the high street next season. Whatever your preconceptions about Barbie’s favourite hue I highly recommend trying this trend come autumn, but do avoid venturing into toddler territory by giving the pie crust collars a miss.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Once upon a time Roksanda Ilincic was dubbed the new “Queen of the cocktail dress” but while her eveningwear remains elegant as ever, the past few seasons have seen the designer branch out into everyday attire too. This is excellent news for anyone with great taste and a big budget because as it happens, Roksanda’s take on day dressing is every bit as inspired as her red carpet looks.
Ever since being inducted into the world of Roksanda during our fateful (and highly eventful) trip to Doha a couple of years ago I’ve been nurturing an obsession with her uncanny knack for combining bold colour combinations with immaculate cuts. Her Pre Fall 2013 collection is a prime example. Marrying clashing brights, acid hues and vibrant plaids with monochrome shades and conservative hemlines, Ilincic delivers a unique take on high fashion cool. Despite being a First Lady favourite and expert at “doing demure”, there is a playful side to her collections that makes me love them even more. Case in point: those supersized clutch bags. Are they practical? No! A little bit ridiculous? Maybe. But do I want one? HELL YES! It’s couture worthy construction meets London quirk with subtle geek chic undertones. Sounds like a recipe for carnage I know but as you can see, in the capable hands of Roksanda Ilincic it’s pure, sartorial gold.
1) Boutique by Jaeger flocked heart sweater, £80, click here to buy
2) MiH Jeans Oslo red velvet skinnies, £160 at Donna Ida, click here to buy
3) Christian Louboutin Sakouette calf hair loafers, £465, click here to buy
4) Christopher Kane double cashmere leopard print scarf, £650, click here to buy
5) Karl Donoghue shearling & suede earmuffs, £100, click here to buy
6) Miu Miu shearling collar wool coat, £1460, click here to buy
7) Mulberry Lily silky snake print bag, £795, click here to buy
8) Whistles Mai Tai suede court shoes, £125, click here to buy
9) Roksanda Ilincic Izumi contrast cuff dress, £885, click here to buy
So finally we come to the last leg of my 12 day sartorial extravaganza. I’m not even going to attempt to count the numbers of shows I attended, glasses of champagne I guzzled, Starbucks lattes I drank or blisters I accumulated. Suffice to say, this time last week I was feeling achey, exhausted and ever-so-slightly pickled but of course, I’d happily do it all again tomorrow. Well maybe not tomorrow… Anyway, I digress. Enough reminiscing and back to the matter at hand, London Fashion Week day 5.
Skirt & Jumper: Boutique by Jaeger
Hat: American Apparel
Shoes: Kurt Geiger
First up was a show I had been looking forward to a LOT… Mulberry. As you may have gathered by now, I’m more than a little obsessed with the purveyor of gorgeous bags and just about everything else, so any chance to ogle Emma Hill’s delectable designs is an absolute treat. One of the many things I love about Mulberry is how each season they pick a theme and bedeck their venue, goodie bags and later showroom accordingly. For AW12 Hill looked to “Where the Wild Things Are” for inspiration and Claridges was transformed into a fairytale forest, complete with giant gold monsters. This time around the venue looked more like a fantasy, country garden than one of London’s smartest hotels thanks to grassy floors, luscious foliage and gnomes everywhere from the lobby to the ballroom and even the loos!
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