Do not be fooled by the artsy crafty, slightly homespun element to the Burberry show, with its bohemian carpet bags and thistle pattern ponchos. Those sheepskin coats and silk or nubuck trenches covered in flowers, stems, circles and scribbles are hand-painted and will be handmade to order. The painted sheepskin trench, now available to buy on Burberry’s website is £6,000, making this a luxury take on the bohemian look.
It was a pretty show – with Paloma Faith singing live – and the swirly, painterly patterns were inspired by Charleston, the country retreat and meeting place of the Bloomsbury set (the show marks the start of a partnership between Burberry and Charleston to help protect the house). Delicate silk tea dresses with vintage, washed-out florals, and brushstroke flourishes worn with long trailing scarves were clothes for idly lounging around the country pile reading poetry. And when the rooms get a bit draughty, wrap up in a geometrically patterned blanket coat or poncho, personalised with your initials. (Or your family crest). And then there is Burberry’s key autumn/winter bag The Bloomsbury, a deep tote which comes in different finishes inspired by rugs, from geometric tufted velvet to flat weave rug combined with check.
Christopher Kane showed his first line of handbags at his show, clearly the kind of brand building development that follows when Kering buys a 51 per cent stake in your label as the company did last year. They will be banking on designs such as a black leather shopper with a neon green stripe and a small box bag in the same colourway, as a future money spinner. Mr Kane said the starting point for the collection was the protective shoe covers worn in hospitals (and, actually by people keeping fashion catwalks smudge-free) and black, heeled shoes came with what looked like scrunched-up shoe covers or bits of bin liner on top of the foot.
In some designer’s hands, this would be a most unpromising start to a collection, but Mr Kane managed to elevate bunched black nylon into a fabric that did not look out of place on evening dresses. Thus a straight black shift dress with short sleeves came with ruched nylon across the hem and bust, while another featured it milkmaid/Heidi style across the bust. Black nylon also appeared on parkas, blended into techno lace, and on evening dresses worn with mink coats or even trimmed with mink.
Mr Kane does not seem like a man who suffers designer’s block, as the show was overflowing with ideas; from oversized mannish tailored suits and coats in black and dark brown (the show was very black with flashes of neon green and pink) to pink, black and white shirt dresses with square leaves of silk on the front, fanned like the leaves of a book. Fellow Scot Kirsty Wark was on the front row, raising the interesting possibility of seeing her in a ruched anorak dress on Newsnight.
If Mr Kane’s collection went heavy on the black, in an industrial way, Erdem’s use of black was more about grandeur and mystery. “Infanta mean girls” was how Erdem Moralioglu described his woman this season, as he reeled off a list of eclectic inspirations from Velázquez paintings of infantas, old clothes stored in Blyth House where the V&A’s fashion collection is stored, stomachers and the steel underneath them, the Romanovs, and the idea of escape, “stiff shapes on young bodies” and ’60s It girls.
The narratives behind Erdem’s shows might not stand up to the scrutiny of a literary critic, but as a visual story this one made perfect sense. Grand fabrics and flourishes were made wearable for young, stylish girls outside of a 16th-century Spanish court.
Erdem’s collection focused on his signature evening coats and dresses, and the show began with little black dresses in laser cut black velvet: across the bodice and sleeves or just a touch at the hem, as well as a laser-cut black velvet cloak with high-neck ending in pie-crust frills. This was an opulent collection, with fabrics such as mustard and pale blue floral jacquard silk woven in England and inspired by botanist prints in the V&A, which appeared on short dresses, with long sleeves, or dresses which were strapless or designed to look like a top and skirt.
Evening coats came in metallic blue brocade, with wide sleeves and tailored lapels, with semi-detached jewelled cuffs, and in white shearling with jewel embellishment. It was a strong collection, showing that Erdem is successfully adding edge to his aesthetic, and as most of the dresses were knee-length this could be the go-to label for anyone who wants to avoid the maxi next autumn/winter.
Embellishment was a popular theme on Monday, with Roksanda Ilincic and Peter Pilotto both using fun, poppy beads and decoration as opposed to opulent looking crystals or disco sequins. Ms Ilincic covered calf-length dresses in multicoloured plastic shapes which looked like something from the craft table at a primary school, in a collection that featured dresses with plain bodices and calf-length circle or straight skirts in blocked and patchworked shades of wine, cobalt, baby blue, orange and cream.
Ms Ilincic’s collection was aimed at women who are not afraid of colour – as was Antonio Berardi’s bold pairing of a magenta-cropped jacket with half-moon shaped sleeves with bright green trousers, or a floor-length jade green silk evening dress with high-neck, embellished décolletage and voluminous sleeves.
Meanwhile, Peter Pilotto added hand beading in crazy zigzag and cluster patterns to sportswear-inspired tops and skirts, straight dresses and drop-shoulder coats. Sleek knitted coats in graphically patterned, colourful jacquards were a high point of a collection that showed there is more to Peter Pilotto than prints (although dresses depicting mountain scenes were included).
On a more unusual note, the Giles show featured a black satin ball dress covered in large, white satin 3D beetles, while a glam rock vibe informed the rest of the show with leather jackets and trousers with motocross quilting, satin bombers and models in platform brothel creepers.
By contrast with the plays on decoration and texture across much of London Fashion Week, Tom Ford was generally keeping surfaces as unembellished and smooth as silk (or cashmere). In an unexpected move, lines were clean, and silhouettes covered up, with straight, high-neck velvet maxi dresses in red and black, and high-neck laced ’60s-style tunic tops in black wool and cashmere worn with pencil skirts. Even the head was covered on many looks thanks to cashmere knits with streamlined hoods.
With laser-cut fox fur coats dyed red and purple, these were clothes for women with no qualms about wearing their wealth on their sleeves. Top fashion trivia marks go to anyone who identified the sequinned football jersey dresses in red and black emblazoned with the words Tom Ford 61 as a luxe version of the top Jay Z wears when he performs his song “Tom Ford”.