London Fashion Week 2015 – Part 1

London fashion week – part I

London Fashion Week kicked off the Spring Summer 16 collections by relocating from Somerset House to the Brewer Street Car Park. I can understand the economics of it, but the practicality just didn’t sit right. Somerset House felt professional and smart, whereas the Car Park didn’t do it for me, no matter how ‘London’ it was trying to be. Any residual edginess embodied in soho concrete felt a bit 80s. I’m not convinced, but I’ll stick with it – though the girls who tried to get up the car ramps in their towering Nicholas Kirkwood’s may not agree with me.

Show highlights

Jasper Conran

Darling Jasper is the godfather of London Fashion Week. He showed at the first ever LFW, and never disappoints. A classicist to the core, piercing through the miasma of other London collections – most of which you could only hope to wear after months of toiling at spinning classes 6 days a week. JC’s clothes instead are always beautiful, wearable, and utterly chic – and that’s what he presented for SS16. Wide stripes, as much at home for cocktails and dinner at The Beaumont as they would be at Eden Rock on the Cap d’Antibes. Delicious striped shorts and tops with gold hoop handle totes to match. The show stoppers were the lichen, moss and sea kelp patterns that leapt to life on sequinned gowns, fit for an era of relaxed Hollywood glamour, when the Kardashians were but a twinkle in their grandparents eyes.  Nostalgia without the costume, simply beautiful clothes – his longevity is down to a exquisite eye and a knowledge that his clients don’t need to over complicate – calm, thoughtful, gorgeous womenswear that makes you feel great.

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Jean Pierre Braganza

Each JPB show makes me weep a little that he no longer makes menswear. I have my own little archive of his clever, insightful pieces. London to the core, JPB cuts like no other – razor sharp tailoring combinations that come back each season in differing forms as if elements of a fugue – never repeated, just tweaked, the melody of his cuts echoing with a precision that is his trademark. Digital print that veered from painterly to deco graphic, contrasted against block black or cobalt, with thrilling flashes of asymmetry.  Some new direction in clearly presenting event dressing – flowing, soft, black tie numbers. In all, a collection that should be ordered by anyone going to Miami Art Basel.

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Mary Katrantzou

Showing at Central St Martins in Kings Cross, Karantzou is the darling of inventive print, so a SS16 collection that stepped away from the digital and firmly into the analogue was a welcome departure. Sequins abound, with considered colour combinations, turning her pieces to romantic visions of boho  – florals on dark grounds, brought alive by the sequining. Moody, yet keeping sparkle and sex firmly in the mix – it felt fresh, a little 60s, and on point.

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Amanda Wakeley

Celebrating 25 years, Amanda Wakely’s clothes are aimed at a sophisticated woman, who does downplayed luxe, and good amount of event dressing. She has her market pegged down as well as Jasper. Relaxed and flowing, this collection was typical of her brand of minimalism – effortless to wear – the pieces do a lot of work for you. Versatile separates, chic jumpsuits, lots of summer black.  Additions to your wardrobe that in this instance will never leave you in dress limbo – you’ll find something for every occasion. I bumped into Nicky Haslam, who told me he recently read a guide to 1930s dressing that decreed you only need wear pearls, pale grey or black and you’re set for anything. This collection had all of that in spades. Top marks for a fun FROW – I caught up with the lovely Astrid Munoz, the always chic Tamara Beckwith (who was sitting with Heather Kersner) – but to my right were Ronan Keating and his new wife Storm. Favourite new people – total blast. As I admitted my morning struggle (11am show, and I had been out till silly o clock), she admitted they had been burning the candle at both ends too! They looked far more alive than dear old me however – my sunglasses didn’t come off at any point that morning…

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Paul Costelloe

Rare is the fashion show that has me beaming ear to ear, but Paul Costelloe’s collection just made me want to smile. Showing in the grand surroundings of the Cafe Royal, it was a riot of WASP style. Straight from the 60s of Truman Capote, there were tennis outfits fit for Jackie O, baby doll dresses that were perfect for a Lee Radziwill bash in the Hamptons or a trip to the U.S. open with Babe Paley. Lilac, metallic blues, tangerines, fushas were all offset by white accessories. Add a cocktail ring and a gimlet, and you’re good to go.

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Hunter Original

Hunter Wellies have been part of the Conway’s country wardrobe since as long as I can remember – until we switched allegiance to Le Chameau. With Alishdair Willis (husband to Stella McCartney) at the helm though, it’s time to switch back – Hunter has now become a full lifestyle brand with a clothing collection that was unveiled in spectacular style in a giant depot in Kings X.  The set was made of abstracted parts of a festival tent, giving hint of what was to come. Six-foot long zip fasteners and tent strings set the scene for both womenswear and menswear that was Glasto ready. Streamers, ponchos, camo, silver – a riot if colour, and some fabulous heeled boots. The only horror was the backless Hunter slippers – they looked like Crocs, and thus should ideally be lost in a field of mud forever.

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You can always rely on Amy and Percy for a party – their show is always like a night out. Despite the searing heat of the venue (Dyson fans were working overtime yet failing), we all crammed in to see a delicious Disco Diva of a collection. NYC in the 70s, with a few nods to romanticism and again lots of summer black and cobalt. Scandal of the show – Owen Wilson apparently turned up to the door, looking like Hansel, and the kids running the clipboards were so young they didn’t recognise him! Shock shock. No doubt kicking themselves when Zoolander 2 arrives in the cinema. Clearly not so hot right now…

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