London Fashion Week and the spring summer 2018 season kicked off on Friday, just as news came in that Chinese tourists collectively are the biggest spenders in the UK luxury fashion market, taking 23 per cent, and followed by the Americans. There’ll be plenty for them to pluck from the opening shows – especially with Burberry collection hitting stores and online as models finished on the runway.
The walls of social portraiture and the clothes on the Burberry catwalk were a celebration of the British at play. Christopher Bailey was rebooting the brand that has been languishing of late, revisiting signatures like the famous Burberry check that he made so iconic in his early days, now as rain blousons and jockey hats, and the trench coat and shearling jacket marked with tattoo prints.
Tartan was also a big part of the story for skirts, military trews and coats that were slipped over embroidered tea dresses, as if heading to a party on a damp autumn evening. Burberry’s historical associations with the military were rekindled with red Guardsmen’s jacket re-imagined as skirts while there was a hint of humour about British weather with colourful plastic macs layered over knits and long woolly scarves worn with evening dresses. Will this refreshing sense of fun and dry wit restore Burberry’s fortunes?
Simple silhouettes and the ease of the everyday symbolised J.W’s summer collection. He talked about “the sanctuary of calmness,” more in reference to the media frenzy around the catwalk shows, but given another terrorist attack in London and anti-fur protestors at venues, people are on edge, and so this collection was meant to be a soothing antidote. Anderson referenced his heritage with Irish linen dresses and sweet crop tops and gathered skirts that had a soft artisanal air. He spoke of “everything coming back around again,” so there was a recycling of ideas like his favourite asymmetric wrap skirts in leather stripes and silky fabrics, and the stitched bra cup style of cotton jersey tops. He even transformed the humble Irish tea towel into a fashion item as tunic tops: “the normality of something you touch every day.”
There is always an girlish air of enchantment about Simone Rocha’s collections, often rooted in Victoriana and a childlike playfulness or young models with wavy hair pinned back with pearl barrettes. Embroidered daisies and naive figures skipped across her black and white cotton and nude tulle smocks, while painted flowers decorated black silk dresses. The silhouette that reminisced the famous drawings of Alice in Wonderland and Victorian dolls is essentially full, but bunchy skirts were balanced with neatly tailored jackets in woven ticking stripes. The collection “Red Dolls” was both romantic and nostalgic and felt familiar but for a couple of bias cut 30s style gowns that shows signs of Rocha exploring new avenues.
Ralph & Russo
Seven years after launching their haute couture Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo are expanding their brand with a new ready-to-wear collection which owes much to the cut and polish of their couture line. Glossy and glamorous it is like their couture without all the embroidery, and presumably the big price tags.
There were sportier looks such as the zipped blouson in a silk scuba fabric and the safari style dresses and jumpsuit. A trench coat and some studded black leather pieces, and a couple of shiny rose gold metallic dresses were simplified versions of the rose gold couture gowns on that feature in the haute couture. This is ready-to-wear at a luxury, elevated level.