London Fashion Week may seem like a whirl of glamorous fashion shows to outsiders, but lets not forgot the place of presentations – static shows where journalists, buyers and assorted guests can hop in and out at their pleasure.
Fashion week is not, as sometimes it seems, for the egotistical pleasure of those trapped in the vortex that can be the industry’s ability to navel-gaze, but instead a 5 day international trade show. Instead, it isn’t at the Excel centre, and (generally) has much better hair.
Hot footing it to the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects, for those of you less obsessed with girders and recessed arches than I am), the 1930s surroundings were perfect for a brand built on playing off our emotional resonance with heritage. 60s prints and colourways are in the Orla Keily’s DNA, and this collection was no different. Combinations of sage greens and muted teal, mustard and white, complimented the distended paisleys and optic prints which have made Keily such a commercial design success. The collection had a golden Americana feel – perfect for Thanksgiving in Malibu. Like all great presentations, it was thoroughly themed; this season being mini golf – as the models walked around, put-ting away shots in Andy-Pandy one-pieces, mini rompers and shifts. Naturally, I had to do a quick pose with the crazy-golf poodle prop – Strudel the Wonderdog would adore her as a friend – I found it too difficult to sneak out, so I’m just going to have to make her one instead.
During London Collections Men, Belstaff is always up there as one of my favourites. The presentation is always classic and super stylish. This season was no different – the sand theme continued on from their Desert Rat presentation at LCM, though had been made softer at the edges. Whilst we were spoilt with oysters and sank back glasses of delicate rose, the collection itself was futuristic – metallic leather and soft buttery muted suedes lent itself more to a feminised Mad Max than the derring-do adventure of the boys’ collection. Khaki’s and buffs were dominant, pitted against tonal white and cream – it felt forward looking, and perfect for city living with layering pieces in clean cuts. It felt like we were being treated to an exhibition of fashion – a living gallery devoted to a brand that is so much more than just biker-girls.
Alexander Lewis – where do I even begin. Perhaps the beam of pride when I saw Alex on the LFW schedule, one of my oldest, dearest school friends. On it first going up on the LFW website, there was a small scream from me, and a flurry of ‘OMG!’ whatsapps. He thoroughly deserves it – having to be objective for a minute, Alex is one of the most dedicated, informed young designers working in London. A background in tailoring (learning his trade at Norton & Sons, and then his key role helping establish E Tautz for Patrick Grant), combined with his Brazilian heritage and an International outlook leads to clothes that are as wearable as they are beautiful – he just knows what people want, and how to do it perfectly. This season, a collaboration with the French-Lebanese glass artist Flavie Audi has created delicate fabrics, works of art in themselves – prisms, rainbows, cubes all feature – and with support from Swarovski, has made them both lux and relaxed at the same time. Variegated blues encrusted in silvery blue crystals, white with baby blue marble veins, cobalt with white veins – its a dream combination of cut and design that made me instantly feel more sophisticated just looking at it. You have to see the pieces move – the flow of silk and consideration of movement is par excellence. I am so excited to see how Alex’s work develops – he already has a DNA and singularity of vision that scares me, its so good. Oh, and I really want a boy version of the wide-leg trousers – delicious.
As usual, most evenings in LFW were taken up by trying to cram in three events a night. I will spare you most of them, and just give you accounts of two of the dinners I went to – de Beers, the glamourpuss of the whole week, and LNZ, the naughty hip-hop street styler.
De Beers Dinner
One thing I do love more than clothes is diamonds, and when you are invited by the company that have the very best of the best in the world, how can you say no. The gala dinner was to celebrate portraits taken by Mary McCartney for Women4Women – ‘Moments in Light’ – snapping Zaha Hadid, Liya Kebede, Diana Krall and Karen Mok as women of influence helping other women. Claridges’s art-deco Ballroom was set up with long tables, glittering with golden candles, greenery and delicate gypsophila for the four course vegetarian dinner (Mary curated it, and is a long term advocate of vegitarianism, as was her mother), and even as a dedicated omnivore, it was a chic and delicious refreshing change – the mouthwatering pasta course I was inspired to re-create at home. I had the wonderful fashion illustrator Clym Evernden to my left, who was spending the week live drawing the shows from the FROW, and my favourite Sasha Wilkins, Liberty London Girl. Louise Kahrmann, de Beer’s new head of communications, curated a fabulous international crowd of heavy-weight fashion editors (no mean feat on the first evening of fashion week), and set the bar for the girls by being immaculate in Ellie Saab, and of course some glorious de Beers diamonds. I was in raptures when Diana Krall took to the stage after dinner to sing us five songs – an honour and utter treat to hear a jazz legend I have listened to religiously since my teens. She performed some of her uniquely revamped standards and all were mesmerised. Diana Krall and diamonds – one very happy fashion bunny…
LNZ dinner, Ramusake
When the hottest thing in music hits the fashion world, you end up with extraordinary creative relevance. Fresh new label LNZ is the brain-child of music style supremo Ainy Naim – famed for styling Katy Perry and Mark Ronson. Her knitwear collection, based on her trips to midlands knitwear factories, see 80s graphic prints translate beautifully to the geometric revolution that is riding so high in fashion. Slightly oversized silhouettes give the pieces a street edge, as well the advantage of being super comfortable to wear. LNZ threw the dinner at Ramusake in South Kensington, and her mega-watt music buddies all turned out to support the new collection. Wall to wall music royalty – super-producer Naughty Boy brought Arrow Benjamin, as they celebrated climbing to number one with ‘Run’ (featuring Beyonce – cue meltdown when Naughty played it in the club), and Swiss Beatz, American super producer. Mark Wright and singer Tamera, Laura Whitmore, India Rose James and Pips Taylor all popped in to feast on Ramusake’s signature cocktails and a maki roll feast (with the odd Korean chicken wing thrown in). So hot right now has never been truer.