It takes a lot for a designer to stand out in a rammed London Fashion Week schedule. Arguably it takes even more for them to make every member of their audience crack a smile at 10am on a Saturday. Louise Gray managed both in her S/S 2011 show, her first on schedule solo offering and a palpable, undeniable fashion feel-good moment. What felt so good was not only the sense that a girl the fashion industry has supported for years has come of age and come into her own, but the clothes themselves - without a doubt, Gray's finest to date.
For the catwalk, Gray went with her gut, letting her instinct to embellish run riot. Hence she began once more with layering fabric on fabric, knotting and draping rag-bag scraps of cloth into neat little aprons and pinafores slung over bright, easy shift dresses. Add to that maze of fabric a new focus on surface detail, with Indian mirror embroidery, shredded fringe, beaded tassels and a healthy dose of mosaic bottle-caps. The melange felt like tribal bricolage culled from a South African township, and indeed could have totally overwhlemed, but Gray tightened up her silhouettes to give the craziness some control.
The shocking thing was just how polished it all managed to feel. A clash of exotic print fabric and grey wool in a neat overcoat looked instantly desirable, a single-shoulder embroidered chiffon overall slung over a colour-block silk crêpe shirt had shades of Parisian sophistication, and the calliper-soled slingbacks in Legoland colours are must-haves - a neat collaboration with the esteemed Italian Label Pollini, in case you wanted to google the stockists. Indeed, Gray titled her show 'GET SOME STUFF' - and that's exactly what you'll want to do.