Margaret Howell started the day at 9am with its first ever combined men’s and womenswear show. It makes total sense for the British design house, founded in 1970. Its brand of simple tailoring and separates already had little variation between men’s and women’s (or indeed, even between seasons) and when shown together at the Rambert Dance Hall in Waterloo on Sunday morning, it felt confident and cohesive.
The collection was classic Howell, but there was subtle experimentation here; sleeveless boxy waistcoats crafted from buttery chocolate leathers and squashy sheepskins. Lines were longer, too: men’s shirts hit the mid thigh and cricket sweaters were oversized. Socks were white and worn with black trainers, a stripe was paired with a check, and the looks weren’t always monotone.
Models wore painter’s aprons, like those made by the brand for the Barbara Hepworth exhibit at the Tate in 2015. The brand are currently staging their own exhibition of Alasdair McLellan’s campaign work: it will be on display at the Wigmore Street store until 19 March. The show had a classic cool about it.
Preen by Thornton Bregazzi were feeling arty also. Inspired by Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas, their woman for AW17 was “fearless,” the designers said backstage. The designers, Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi, celebrated their 20th anniversary last year, and have always chosen a powerful muse each season. This time the collection was inspired by the suffragettes and women’s right’s movement. Not directly linked to Trump’s America, said Bregazzi, but representative of “the general mood of the moment”. Ribbons were embroidered with words such as “Mother,” “Sister” and “Daughter” and worn as earrings. Grosgrain belts, tied around waists, announced, “I Am, I Am, I Am.’”
Business-like tweed suits lent her an air of authority. Backpacks were functional and shoes were flat. Enormous duvet jackets covered in wallpaper florals looked cosy. These were clothes to go marching in.
Anya Hindmarch took her muse on a journey through the Middle Ages. “It explores the contrast between the romanticised notions of winter and wanderlust and the darker motifs found in old Norse folklore,” said the designer. It was furry and fun. The label is renowned for its elaborate staging, and this season saw models trek up a rocky mountainous runway in shades of lilac, dusky pinks and baby blue. They wore fluffy hats, Alpine sweaters and knickerbockers with ski goggle sunglasses by Cutler and Gross — like Dora the Explorer, from Viking times.
The Peter Pilotto designers took their woman on a journey, too. Staged in the Waldorf Hilton on Aldwych, the space was filled with palm trees and Peruvian rugs, with bespoke artworks by the designers’ friends. Whereas Hindmarch was all about the bags, here it was all about the outerwear: silken parka jackets came with Mongolian sheepskin hoods and giant utility patch pockets (an emerging trend at the London shows). Peruvian ‘Nazca’ quilting on jackets was mixed with asymmetrical dresses with handkerchief hems, while an Ochre blanket dress in potato bag texture with woollen fringing. Wellingtons were embroidered and the hiking boots were made from tweed.
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