February 19, 2013 11:08 am

London Fashion Week: Day 4

Tom Ford goes cross-cultural and Erdem embraces his dark side

What happens when all your wishes come true?

“I had to get it all out,” said Christopher Kane backstage after his first catwalk show since the sale of 51 per cent of his fledgling business to fashion giant PPR.

Kane’s to-do list this season: camouflage prints – some in kilt pleats, some edged in fat fox fur; intricate spirals of lace; open seamed velvets; 3D floral embroideries; patchworks of organza; rows of crystals the size of cough sweets; wiry explosions of glitter; warrior necklaces; and a whole aviary full of feather plumes. There was even one dress encrusted with oriental embroidery at the shoulders thrown in for good measure. It was hard to take it all in.

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“I love lace and I haven’t done it for so long,” said Mr Kane. And the feathers? “I wanted it to look like an explosion of crows and ravens.” Oh. OK.

Mr Kane’s strength has always been his ability to offer a singular fashion vision, proving that when it comes to signposting the way forward one great idea can go a very along way, and that was lacking. Yet PPR chief executive François-Henri Pinault, perched front row next to his wife Salma Hayek, seemed to think it had been money well spent. “It was amazing,” Ms Hayek gushed post show.

As it happens, Tom Ford was also all over the place – quite literally – for his first full-blown London catwalk show held at the ultra-grand Lancaster House, just a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace.

“Cross cultural multi ethnic,” was the title of his collection, and, as the title suggests, it was a blunderbuss shot of world references fired out to luxury customers in every corner of the globe. No cultural stone was left unturned in an extraordinary orgy of animal prints, tribal prints, cowboy Texan tassels, oriental embroideries, starburst appliqués, sequinned florals, black lace and furs of every description. Often with matching knee-high boots.

By contrast, over at Burberry Prorsum, Christopher Bailey was almost reductionist, puckering up for a collection entitled “Trench kisses” and involving 22 versions of the classic trench in everything from burgundy rubber to love heart prints, riveted leather and horse hair, often with heavy brass strips in place of cuffs and belts. Options to wear under those trenchcoats included rubber dresses – Mr Bailey was really pandering to the rubber mac brigade this season – buttoned-up shirt dresses and separates in broad horizontal stripes.

Meanwhile, Erdem embraced his dark side, with exquisitely crafted, darkly seductive dresses inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s classic movie Persona, and JW Anderson produced a collection that was an exercise in almost monastic ultra-restraint. Three identically plain dresses in black, white and grey opened a show that stripped everything back to basics, and then added a block of colour here, a knotted detail there or the sweep of a cape shoulder over there. It all looked a little like very early Comme des Garçons – no bad thing in anyone’s book – but also made for some beautifully simple clothes.

Between the two extremes – more-ish and minimal – was the design duo behind Peter Pilotto. Also taking on lashing of print and texture, they offered ever-more complex collages of print, embroideries and inventive cut in a perfectly balanced collection. In fashion, as in life, a few limits it seems are not such a bad thing.

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