Eclecticism, the borrowing of aesthetics from hither and thither with no regard for anything as petit bourgeois as whether they match, is a tough schtick to get right. That didn’t deter Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos from attempting it wholeheartedly with their A/W 17 show. And it ran to the set too. The Palm Court of the Waldorf Hilton was transformed into a gallery cum hipster reading room with shaggy rugs, paintings and sculpture as well as bright objet d’art stools on which the audience perched. At odds with the surroundings, it still worked.
The eclecticism of the collection was less easily nailed. The designers referenced 'worldly techniques' in their show notes, emphasising the textures of the collection, and, as with recent seasons, firmly reminding us that they’re not just print designers any more. And indeed there were plenty of soft and tactile fabrics put to good use especially as slinky evening dresses in silk and velvet and oversized knits adorned with chevrons and squiggles of looped wool and intarsia Peruvian motifs. Less successful were tweedy tailored looks constructed from panels and hovering awkwardly between fitted and oversized.
Colour-wise, midnight blue and metallic copper, a vibrant oleander pink and a coral were bright touches that worked particularly well. In contrast, a section of palest pink, mink and silver looks was insipid and looked out of place with the rest of the collection. Looks which incorporated multiple colours - those tweeds, with the addition of quilted and embroidered satin patches and fuzzy, ombre-striped clingy knits - were a bit muddled and muddy. A shame, considering the work that must have gone into those knits which incorporated an intarsia motif too - no mean feat.
Fringing and Mongolian goat hair trims further added to the designers’ world traveller vibe, but accessorised with embroidered riding boots and velvet slippers there was actually something of the English country house party afoot. Those tweedy pieces could easily have been inspired by the wardrobes of a young Queen Elizabeth or Princess Margaret, while the long asymmetric dresses were perfect for slinking around by candlelight, getting up to no good.