Kiss me quick, squeeze me slow. When a designer titles their collection after a saucy seaside postcard slogan, dedicates it to 'love' and splatters comedy lips worthy of the Rocky Horror Show over everything from invite to finale gown, it doesn't suggest that they're inviting intellectual introspection. Holly Fulton is a girl who wants to have fun, plain and simple. It's hanging from the shoulders, wrapped around the waists and dangling from the earlobes of every model at her shows, not least A/W 2011.
For this latest outing, Fulton filched inspiration from Coco Chanel's celebrated affair with the Duke of Westminster. His was the influence Coco mythologised as the source of her obsession with British tweeds, as well as the idea behind her costume jewellery. The latter is, of course, a Fulton fixation, but the former made a first appearance on his catwalk this season, with nubby textured tartans seemingly hand-woven from wool, snakeskin and velvet ribbon. Coco would no doubt be chagrined to hear that there was more than a touch of her arch rival Elsa Schiaparelli to proceedings - Fulton's urge is to pile it on rather than strip it back, and models were adorned from crystal-bead berets to the tips of their studded Louboutins (even though a few unfortunate models had to make their exits clutching discarded pairs, so savage were the stiletto heels). The prints were suitably surreal, suggestively colliding lips and skyscrapers on silk-crepe in eye-popping, mouth-watering shades of teal, black and neon yellow.
Fulton's past few seasons on schedule has carved a neat niche in which to place her playful print and decorative excess, but there were a few new departures in this show. The focus on hardness and hardware felt different - studs popping up across dresses, a flapper-style mini-dress constructed of thick python with aquamarine patent ruffles. If that sounds tacktastic, frankly it was, and as much fun to tired fashion week eyes as Blackpool illuminations to a ten year old. More sophisticated was Fulton's velvet blouse pricked with tiny beads and worn with an ankle-length leather skirt, and a pearl-smothered t-shirt with lip-print palazzo pants. That could have come from one of Lagerfeld's wittier collections from Chanel - the last thing we expect to see on a 9.45am London catwalk. Maybe Coco would be pleased after all.