Our last few weeks have been hectic to say the least, but we've finally had time to sit down, kick back and review the dozen or so A/W 2011 press days we've been whirling around.
'Dozens' is the word that leaps to mind when thinking of Karla Otto - namely the dozens of designers this PR powerhouse represents. For me, Marco Zanini's Rochas was a highlight - of the season as well as this press day. There's a quiet insistence to the aesthetic path Zanini's been mining, subtly underlining and building on his designs season after season. It took me a while to get into his mind-set, but this season was a no brainer. I loved the elongated-toe slingbacks in lipstick-red crocodile, the cocooning coats, the bubbly brocade gowns and the lashings of astrakhan. Graeme Fidler and Michael Herz's Bally was also a stand-out, with neat leather-lined coats and some clever twists on that block-versus-stilleto heel debate (Fidler and Herz fused them together, FYI). I also loved Loewe. Then again, I've been a fan of Stuart Vevers' incredible accessories for over a decade. I may sound like a doddering fashionista grandpa, but I remember the days when Mr Vevers sprayed priceless (or at least, highly-priced) intrecciato leather with neon paint, created a sterling silver record-case so heavy no-one could lift it and cobbled a cool 15k of electric-blue crocodile into a briefcase Patrick Bateman would have killed for. That was during his career opener at Bottega Veneta, but his output at Loewe - multicoloured handbags bristling with leather pom-poms, a furball of fox as a vest and some tissue-fine nappa knotted into pussy-bow blouses - show that same tongue-in-cheek sense of chic.
RelativeMO are another PR pit-stop rammed with designers - running the gamut from new names such as Phoebe English (barely out of Central Saint Martins that one) to established highlights like Giles Deacon. Oddly enough, this season there was an aesthetic connection between the two - I couldn't help but link English's hair and leather-pailette frocks with Giles' floor-length skirts and leather-wrapped corsets bristling with goat-fur. Apparently, Giles and team made an emergency call to Toni & Guy before the show for twenty-off pairs of GHDs to straighten all that goat by hand. That's twenty-first century haute couture, right there.
Over in the east end, there was more fur frothing at A.I. PR - from menswear dab hand turned womenswear new blood J.W. Anderson. Anderson's been obsessed with girly boys, but over the past few seasons he's turned his hand to boyish girls too. This season was his most compelling and convincing argument yet - priestly collars in latex affixed to paisley-swirled silk shirts, mohair harnesses over crepe blouses and floor-length pleated kilts - all for both sexes, with studded and embellished hiking boots. Gorgeous.