Chic hints from Nature

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Featuring celebrity-studded shows by big names as well as a crop of younger designers, the London Fashion Week is a more eclectic affair

DESIGNERS turned to Nature for inspiration at the opening day of London Fashion Week last Friday, showcasing a collection of sheer silk dresses, delicate embroidery and elegant show pieces all featuring a floral-inspired theme.

Britain’s capital took over the baton from New York, which wrapped up its week with sparkly dresses and bold geometric prints, with a pared-down colour palette of fresh pastels and faded dip-dyes.

Designers Antoni & Alison opened the show with a series of quirky silk printed dresses, followed by Fyodor Golan whose collection was revealed in the grandiose lounge of the Waldorf Hilton and inspired by Mayan and Aztec cultures.

Models floated down the steps in shift dresses, loose kaftans and bold show pieces varying in electric blue, canary yellow, autumnal amber and bright pink hues, with intricate beading embroidery, and tribal-inspired prints and cutouts.

“We wanted to show lightness and spirituality, and at the same time to have that sexuality there. So it’s that contrast but it’s not in your face, it’s still strong and gives you power but it’s very emotional, something that will engage you,” said designer Fyodor Podgorny who, along with his partner Golan Frydman, has consistently impressed critics since their debut collection two years ago. The duo kept their look neutral, with slicked back ponytails and bare faces on models offset by delicate painted tribal tattoos, and intricate facial jewellery covering eyes and noses.

Theatrical hats, crazy heels and bright red lipsticks were out in full force at the first previews, which included shows by veteran designer Caroline Charles, Bora Aksu and Australian label sass and bide.

London Fashion Week is a more eclectic affair than its cousins in New York, Milan and Paris, featuring celebrity-studded shows by seasoned big names like Burberry and Vivienne Westwood as well as a crop of younger designers, including Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders, Mary Katrantzou and Roksanda Illincic.  

Veteran fashion journalist Hilary Alexander said she was impressed by the attention to detail and vibrant colours.

“It’s not for everybody, a woman who’s a minimalist would probably throw up her hands in horror but I happen to love them,” she said.

Designer Corrie Nielsen said that her collection, entitled Florilegium, was inspired by the Royal Botanic gardens in London and Japanese artist Makoto Murayama.

“Everything has been cut three-dimensionally and shaped, inspired from the flower,” she said.

The collection also featured sleek tailored pieces alongside dip-dyed silk blouses and origami-folded jackets in pale yellows, pinks and creams.

Sheer dresses embellished with embroidered applique details in icy blues, mint greens and lilacs were seen at Bora Aksu.

Models were adorned with cut-out felt crowns, sporting braids and back-combed hair, wearing light printed and embroidered gowns inspired by art deco, and botanical gardens.

“I just wanted to create something that was really light,” said Aksu. “There’s texture on it but it’s very light, there’s prints and embroideries, and stuff but it’s almost like a light layer, so nothing is really heavy. I wanted to make it like air.”

Romantic florals and pastels defined the opening day of London Fashion Week, but Felder Felder added an edgy twist to their spring collection, teaming bold hues and muted leopard prints with floaty fabrics, and shortening hemlines of shredded knitwear dresses.

Singer Kate Nash, dressed in a black suede dress and leather jacket, serenaded the crowd as models accessorised with aviator sunglasses and beach hair strutted down the runway in miniscule shorts, dresses with high slits and suits paired with midriff-baring tops.

Models swanned through the intimate presentation room in feminine tailored dresses made from light fabrics with prints and woven textures, in an array of pastel hues, at Emilia Wickstead’s presentation.

The designer said her new collection was a twist on Truman Capote’s “swans” and was inspired from high society dames from the late 1950s who were required to look chic and elegant at social events. “I wanted it to be uplifting, fashion forward and really play on my inspirations a lot,” said Wickstead. “I loved the matador shorts so I played a lot on that, I thought that was quite fresh, keeping summer fun and flirty but at the end of the day, my style is quite sophisticated and neat, so I wanted to make it more playful.”

Wickstead, who is six months pregnant, was one of the designers to benefit from the “Kate effect” after the Duchess of Cambridge stepped out in some of her designs.

Wickstead said she wasn’t able to comment on her royal client, but did say it was “inspiring” to dress “anyone who is sophisticated and high profile, and of a lovely nature and a great look”.  Middleton isn’t the only high-profile client to favour Wickstead’s chic designs.

Downton Abbey actress Laura Carmichael, who wore a dress by Wickstead at New York’s prestigious Met Ball Gala earlier this year, praised the designer’s latest collection.

“She’s got such a talent for doing completely classic, simple things and managing to be very dramatic, and sexy with it in the most classy way,” said Carmichael.  Agencies

Emilia Wickstead’s demure dress

Antoni & Alison’s painted dress

Fyodor Golan’s graphic pieces

Design by Corrie Nielsen, featuring motifs of nature

Bora Aksu’s pleated dress

Felder Felder’s nature-inspired motifs

Flowers blooming at House of Holland

Matthew Williamson’s silk dress

Belted coat at Jonathan Saunders


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