Back's shredded satin gowns were a homage to Miss Moss' swift reworking of her torn gown at last year's Golden Age of Couture gala. Although i have no excuse for the Chris de Burgh lyrics.
Ann-Sofie Back always has an unusual slant on the more usual themes of fashion: her idea of 'lingerie-detailing' consisted of the kind of thong flashing much favoured by every D-list celebrity - although Ann-Sofie worked them in as ironic detailing on a hem, shoulder, or here into a whole garment. The tricksy g-string touches, although extreme in concept, came across as delicate, subtle and even commercial, espcially when combined with her 'off-duty' crumpled boyfriend-style tailoring, no doubt the selling core of the collection. Elsewhere, pixellated 'Heat' and 'OK!' slogans underlined her celebrity-fodder inspiration. Such a strong theme can often come across as slapdash, but Back's knowing irony and witty interpretations pulled the bad taste just the right side of good.
In the plush deco surroundings of the Ciné Lumiere Saville Row stalwart Edward Sexton showed his winter collection for men and women. Tailor to Bianca Jagger, Twiggy et al in the swinging sixties, Sexton is an acknowleged master of feminising masculine tailoring (Stella Mccartney's first suiting for Chloe was made in his workroom) - this collection mixed heavy wool suiting with soft silk-satin and crepe, jackets hugging waists on women and signature roped shoulders defining the silhouette for men. However, somewhat heavy-handed styling and gimmicky tricks undermined the line leaving the audience slightly restless, despite unexpected delights like the stand-out suit of pink tweed plus-fours and impeccable curvy Norfolk jacket. Next to the brand's heritage of dressing style icons past, the presence of Sophie Anderton centre front may suggests the label needs to reassess exactly who they want the modern Sexton woman to be.
The London Fashion Week exhibition gives ample opportunity for you to sample the wares of designers not showing on the catwalk. Here is master milliner Stephen Jones' interpretation of the opera hat, a staple in any woman's wardrobe. Well, I wish.
At precisely the above point in Emma Cook's wonderful latex-n-lace rendering of Even Cowgirls Get The Blues the trusty SHOWstudio phone decided to die on us (temporarily), thus our conspicuous silence in the latter half of the afternoon. But fear not, all will be erratically blogged, starting with a closer look at Emma's rootin' tootin' collection - a rhinestoned, tie-dyed ode to all things Western titled 'Lonesome Susie' after a Blood, Sweat and Tears track. Black lace abounded, cut into Cook's classic poufed babydoll dresses alongside short, sharp figure-hugging minis. Less conventional was her use of latex, tie-dyed in sensational tiered, pleated and ruffled dresses and aggressive leggings. The finale bid 'Hello Dolly' (Parton that is) to fringed and crystal-studded micro-frocks, heralding Cook's sponsorship from Swarovski. Alas we missed Dolly's divine rendition of Stairway to Heaven on the soundtrack.
'Futuristic Eskimos' were the somewhat unlikely inspiration for Louise Goldin's winter collection - and winter, indeed, was most definitely upon us. Despite the unseasonal and un-London balmy weather of the day, Goldin's models emerged dressed for the chicest of tundras in geodesic sweater dresses, full skater skirts and quilted and padded angular boleros spangled with icy Swarovski crystals. The nordic theme extended to the palette of warm fig, plum and navy alongside black and anthracite in geometric prints derived from alpine patterns. More appropriate inspiration for a joyous winter collection could not be found: Goldin struck the perfect balance between spectacular Nanook of the North showpieces and covetable Constructivist body-con cashmere.
Sir Paul has evidently been swotting up at the V&A - his showing this evening at Claridge's Ballroom reeked oh-so-elegantly of the august institution's Golden Age Of Couture exhibition. There was a distinct post-war air to proceedings: strict high-waisted pinstripes evoked Landgirls out for a good time as dressed by Digby Morton, while a New Look trench was emblazoned with Vertes-style sketches of Fifties belles (sneakily previewed in the centre spread of today's Daily Rubbish). Smith's interpretation of the Anglo-French couture rivalry was, naturally, frightfully English, with the hauter touches brought down-to-earth with knits, vivid prints and his trademark primary-bright colour palette.
Duro Olowu's aesthetic is perhap best described as West Coast meets Upper East Side, mixing up classic, even conservative shapes with the acidic colour and clashing pattern found in the costumes of Nigeria, his birthplace. This reason was no exception: despite a sea of subdued colour on other runways, his opening outfits confidently juxtaposed cyclamen, lapiz and lime, the vibrancy giving new energy to the well-traversed Rich Hippy theme. The collection wasn't exactly youthful in appeal - it's hard to imagine anyone under 65 yearning for a pyramid-line brocade duster - but next to the rest of Topshop's NewGen, at least Olowu is producing something a core of thirty-something luxury customer can (and evidently want) to wear.
To avoid the almost inevitable delays commuting between shows, Krystof Strozyna and Meadham Kirchhoff showed back-to-back in the BFC tents. Fresh from his MA at Central Saint Martins last year, Strozyna was up first, showing an architecturally astute collection of heavy structured cotton in white, black and eye-popping fuschia. Decorated with his trademark wooden shapes lacquered to coordinate and sliced with industrial zippers, the collection was an uncompromising (if not wholly original) vision of fashion's future and a strong opening statement for Strozyna's career.
The second part of the BFC double-act, Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff also focussed on structured tailoring and a modern aggressive and even predatory femininity. The pieces that best summed this up - coincidentally the best pieces in their collection - were brief tailored jackets in firm double-face wool jersey, intricately seamed like an Elizabethan doublet with emphatic shoulders and articulated elbows, forming a post-modern armour for woman. Elsewhere lines were soft and flowing in chiffon, cashmere and feather-light mohair, with the long-neglected maxi skirt a common sighting, perhaps softening the more aggressive corners of the duo's vision.
Appropriately enough, a cavalcade of 22 coats opened the Aquascutum show - after all, that is what the house does best. 'Couture' topped the list of inspirations, and in dividing their collection so emphatically into raincoated day and taffeta-ed night and showing in a venue where the audience could hear the pitter-patter of the models' Manolos on the runway, the brand tapped into this couture sensibility from the get-go. New Look shapes abounded, although with Aquascutum's quintessentially British sensibility the look was more about Norman Hartnell's fresh dressing of the young Princess Margaret than Dior's out-and-out glamour. Sacque and trapeze shapes cleansed the palette of anything too cloyingly feminine, while the stand out was a kingfisher blue boucle coat fit for HRH herself.
'Subdued' is rarely a word that leaps to mind with Basso and Brooke, but with their Winter 2008 collection the perennial jokers seem to have grown up somewhat. Programme notes referenced contemporary urban landmarks as well as the architecture of Gehry and Gaudi - the former evident perhaps in the abstract Gherkin form of the duo's coats, the latter in their exploration of multifaceted texture in crystal-studded embroidery, patchwork and knitted yarn. The previously retina-detaching prints were muted into tonal patterns derived from architectural images, the collection's predominant shades an Autumnal palette of ochre, moss and even rich, caramelly beige. Maybe the madcap humour of previous seasons was missed somewhat, but by the time the boys trotted out a flawless beige trench, you were happy the jokes were over.
For Todd Lynn, Christian Louboutin created these sensational platforms in suede, lizard and pony - the ponytails attached to some are, one assumes, optional.
Todd Lynn has always had a predilection for the darker side of life and his latest collection for winter was no exception. His pasty, whey-faced boys and girls - often so skinny as to make the difference in cut negligible - were dressed in a predominantly dark palette of black, teal and aubergine relieved only by the texture and finish on fabrics such as cashmere, taffeta and crushed patent leather. Victorian taxidermy was cited as a key influence - presumably in the beastly textures of goat and sheepskin crafted into taut sheath dresses and oversized collars on short tailored jackets. The silhouette, as with so many, was top-heavy with high waisted trousers and belts emphasising an already-defined shoulderline. Lynn's strength is tailoring, and as such the Victorian undercurrent was perhaps better expressed in gothy frock-coat detailing, curved revers on otherwise clean-cut jackets and witchy pointed shoulders suitable for only the chicest children of the night.
Frankly, a show based on 'Tudor princesses at the court of a 21st century Samurai' could only fill my very soul with dread, but Nathan Jenden's collection made me eat my words. The late hour, poor lighting and dank, mildewed venue somewhere under London Bridge station were equally portenteous of a foray into late-90s McQueen theatrics, but Jenden's collection was astute, concise and above all realistic. Working with inspirations like Holbein portraits but removing the weight and stuffiness is a mark of Jenden's skill - he created gathered peplums and bishop sleeves reminiscent of the splendour of Tudor costume, but in firm wool and textured tweed they became resolutely contemporary. Surface decoration in self-colour embroidery and applique picked up the richness of Renaissance costume without overpowering, and a glittering golden crystal carapace of a gown seems destined for a future red carpet. If occasionally the collection veered into Am Dram territory - courtesy of a few overactive ruffs, diamante masks and the lead-white Taboo maquillages - there was more than enough lean, clean tailoring and knockout cocktail wear to cover up a few overenthusiastic errors in judgement.
It was difficult to tell exactly what Marcus Lupfer was trying to say in his show for Armand Basi. There was a touch of psychedelia to the garishly coloured purple, satsuma and green prints, the crystal-encrusted heels had shades of Louis Quatorze and Trapeze line dresses (yes more of those) in stiff silk cloque had a distinct air of Balenciaga - Cristobal rather than Nicolas, luckily. With the considerable talents of Lupfer and accessories mastermind Katie Hillier behind the show, we had the right to expect more from this collection - this is Lupfer's second show for the label after all. Nevertheless on the whole it was weighted too heavily towards costume, crucially failing to ignite the desire required to breath fresh life into an existing label.