September 18, 2012 10:59 am

London Fashion Week: day four

The big surprise at the Burberry show this season was that at the end of the show nothing cascaded down from the ceiling. After last season’s rain effect, whereby water gushed down the sides of the tents, one might have expected them to top it with perhaps a fake hurricane or least a medium-force gale. Then again, with the small matter of a 20 per cent drop in its share price after the brand issued a profit warning last week, perhaps the budget marked “weather special effects” has been scaled down

Not that there was any other sign of holding back. The marquee in Kensington gardens was as big as ever, and if the front-row wasn’t quite as starry as usual, it did have Andy Murray and his glossy-haired girlfriend. And there was nothing quiet about the show itself, which was a particularly bold, bright riot of jewel colours, shine and metallic finishes. Although the show’s title was “Corsets and capes”, it would make sense if the inspiration really lay at the bottom of a box of Quality Street.

While there were a couple of trenchcoats in traditional beige, for spring/summer 2013 they also came in gold leather lace, feathers arranged in pine cone-like circles, metallic ruched silk, hot pink and orange cotton sateen and – for the finale – a rainbow of jewel shades in metallic leather. Other outerwear pieces included long, narrow capes in white and navy, voluminous coats in pink or blue ombre and satin capelets, as well as cropped satin bombers, which were rather bulky and unappealing. Outerwear was the strongest suit, but other pieces included a foil skirt, top and shirt dress in shades of purple and green, pencil and fishtail skirts in scarlet satin, emerald sequins and purple textured leather, worn with a satin shirt or corseted top.

As well as being live streamed on the website, and on to a screen at the new Regent Street store, the collection is also available to buy for a week straight after the show and will be shipped in eight weeks. Despite fears that Burberry’s financial issues might have sent a shiver down the spines of other luxury labels, prices listed online demonstrate that the brand is confident that some consumers have £22,000 for the peacock feather trench.

Burberry is easily categorised as Britain’s biggest luxury brand, and a heritage label, but Christopher Kane’s position in the fashion hierarchy has been hard to define. Last year he won the “new establishment” accolade at the British Fashion Awards, which was introduced to recognise a “particular movement in British fashion that is taking the industry by storm”. The curiosity and excitement before one of his shows, among international buyers and editors, not just patriotic Brits is palpable, and this season’s show was a tour de force.

On a reflective silver catwalk, Kane showed a collection he billed as a cross between the sickly sweet and Frankenstein, which had currents of the Sixties, ladylike dressing and sci-fi. The first section featured all-white biker jackets and skirts in white fabric with a rose relief texture, a long-sleeve top covered in short sections of shiny white tape, boxy trouser suits and a strapless dress with a bow at the bust and clear plastic bolts in place of rows of buttons. Knee-length dresses were the mainstay. In a palette of baby pink, sunshine yellow and white, with a bit of black, they were tailored with ribbonlike flat folds of fabric, covered in rows of clear plastic ruffles or joined-up plastic bows in pale pink, black or white, while shorter dresses came overlaid with a sheer organza decorated with bows to create a longer skirt.

Erdem also picked up on the play between the sheer and the opaque which has been gathering momentum this week, as well as the sense of apparently ladylike clothing with an undercurrent of something a little bit strange. While Kane fused eclectic sources of inspiration – the ultra feminine and the monstrous – Erdem Moragliou had an intriguing narrative worked out. Speaking backstage at the giant spaceship-shaped tent in a Bloomsbury garden square, he said he was inspired by “one of the first sci-fi writers, Zena Henderson, who was a schoolteacher by day and a writer by night. I loved the idea of these women landing on earth and trying to blend in with this 1950s silhouette, but they are really becoming something.”

Thus the collection featured dresses in 1950s pencil and prom shapes, in “toxic pastel” shades of day-glo orange, mixed with buttercup yellow and baby blue, rendered in panels of appliquéd lace, 3D floral lace and floral embroidery. Many of the dresses had cutaway sections or panels of sheer organza, some of which were dotted with bright costume jewels or layered as an overskirt. You couldn’t get much further from little green men . . .

Michael van der Ham also offered his own version of fabric mixing, although here it was less about a delicate fusion of couture-like materials and more about straight-up fabric-blocking, panelling or collaging, as it is being various described. Layered and pleated dresses with lightly deconstructed or asymmetric elements such as a skirt which looked like one garment layered over another resembled a haberdasher’s stockroom come to life – in a good way – with splotchy, squiggly brushstroke prints, hairy jacquards, devorés, fine knotted metallic lurex and shredded georgette variously put together.

While Antonio Berardi’s vision was cleaner and calmer, his show featured an athletic take on contrasts, pairing sections of different colours, patterns and textures and a more graphic form of patchworking. One dress with a full skirt featured a leotard-like top mixing metallic and aertex.

Mesh inserts gave a sporty feel to the Richard Nicoll collection, appearing on zip inserts on simple silk tunic dresses and tailored skirts, while grey sweatshirt fabric was used on panels on short tailored dresses in shade of pale yellow and aqua.

Leave it to Giles then to provide the all-out drama and grandeur, with Giles Deacon’s signature couture-like balldresses, which are about as far from charity fundraiser frivolity as you can get. This season’s highlights included a floor-length dress with a white leather bodice and a cloudlike puff of a skirt painted with a horse, and a slimmer strapless dress with circular sprays of grey feathers.

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