London Fashion Week: Runway report 5

If fashion week fatigue had descended by Tuesday morning, the Anya Hindmarch show was the perfect uplifting antidote. Dubbed “counter culture”, the latest collection from the British accessories brand known for quirky shows was shown on a black and white catwalk resembling a barcode. The designs came from the idea of finding beauty in the banal, and so Ms Hindmarch had taken graphics from familiar supermarket and household items, and applied them to handbags.

It is not the first time a brand has put a luxury spin on everyday objects: Christopher Kane did it with nylon this week, Margiela did it with couture made from everything from party balloons to broken records, and remember the Louis Vuitton launderette bag? However, done with Ms Hindmarch’s typically British humour and panache it went down a storm.

Male and female models walking down conveyor belts, carrying wire baskets and pushing trolleys held top handle totes depicting Tony the Tiger from Frosties packaging, as well as graphics from Swan Matches and Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. Envelope clutches came with the Ariel washing powder logo, cylinder-shaped clutches resembled packets of digestive biscuits and minaudière clutches resembled cereal packets. The latter were crafted from Python, while the images taken from FMCGs (fast-moving consumer goods, thank you Anya Hindmarch for the new acronym) were made by British crafts people in intarsia leather.

The show also featured Ms Hindmarch’s first scarf collection, with yellow smiley acid house faces, which also appeared on wallets. “It’s important to make people smile,” she said backstage, and when besuited men performed a 1940s style dance routine, disembodied arms appeared through the back of the stage playing double basses and finally jazz hands popped up from the floor at the buyers’ and editors’ feet, they all did just that.

There was a sense of fun and theatre at Meadham Kirchhoff, where the collection had a dressing-up box feel. There was a section that felt like a twisted take on “boring” grown-up clothes – candy coloured, scaled up versions of Chanel-style jackets and skirt suits – followed by crazy, colourful seventies dresses in gold lamé, multicoloured velvet and tiered silk, paired with glam rock metallic boots. Thanks to girls trying to get noticed by street style photographers, there is an appetite for statement-making, good taste-subverting clothes that the designers tap into.

Ashley Williams, an up-and-coming designer with a sense of fun, showed as part of Fashion East. Oversized dungarees in dust bowl denim, red print and silver leather were the kind of easy casualwear a young, experimental girl would like, as were leather dresses, skirts and jackets with appliquéd horses head patterns (more Chloe 2001 than The Godfather). A kitten motif was similarly likely to appeal to young, uninhibited women, appearing on denim, a sequinned dress and as a repeat pattern on a shirt.

Helen Lawrence, another Fashion East designer, picked up on the cosy mood that was big in New York and is bubbling under in London, with a blanket coat covered in grey smudges and scribbles. Clingy skirts knitted in double-brushed mohair and knitted trousers also promised warmth, although some of the deconstructed and cropped jumpers, while cool, were less practical against the weather.

Simone Rocha is a designer who came through the Fashion East scheme and is receiving increasing acclaim. This season she was channelling Anne Boleyn with ruffles, panniers and embellishment adapted into modern shapes. Little black dresses in bonded wool had extra volume at the sides of the skirts, and the neckline was edged with amber beading. Oversized frills added interest to everything from yellow snake coats and trouser pockets to separates in crinkled tartan, while red evening dresses in brushed checked red wool tulle underlined the emergence of the red cocktail dress. There was Tom Ford’s long red velvet column dress, Meadham Kirchhoff’s pink and red velvet dress, House of Holland’s short cocktail frock (use of the 1980s word “frock” intentional as it was 1980s-inspired) covered in sequin lipsticks and cocktails, and versions at Erdem and Vivienne Westwood . . . 

Evening dressing was also key at Brazilian designer Barbara Casasola’s show, alongside tailoring. Ms Casasola said her collection “was an attitude rather than a specific reference. I was looking at Brazilian modernism and Brazil is a land of opposites so the look was pared back but sensual, contrasting masculine and feminine, heavy fabrics and transparency.”

Evening dresses in black, purple and burgundy had covered-up silhouettes, but with sheer sections, some of which were across the bust. Ms Casasola confirmed that they would go into production like that, suggesting her customer could – perhaps – wear a bra as a nod to modesty, unless individual retailers wanted them changed. Conviction with flexibility: it is a good attitude to have.

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