Show Highlights / Day 3

Sunday 17 February 2013

Catwalk Reports from The LFW Daily
Today's reports by Kay Barron, fashion features director at Net-a-Porter.

A designer friend once told me years ago that most designers don’t know how to use colour. At the time, the comment struck me as nonsense, but then I spent seasons watching shows by designers who can’t use colour. So when you see a collection with such a considered and sophisticated use of hues, as we did at Jonathan Saunders, never underestimate the importance of it. This was the second consecutive season that he moved away from print – focusing, instead, on unusual colour and texture combinations. Few of Saunders’ contemporaries can combine a terracotta felt coat and a red patent-leather belt with flashes of orange skirt, which lay beneath, and not only successfully make every woman at the show want to wear the look, but make it seem sexy, too. That was the new addition: sex. Patent-leather bustiers and corsetry contrasted with the velvet dévoré and lace, and there were delighted gasps (and childish giggles) as he embraced breasts as the stars of the show. Clever boy.

It’s only their second season back on the London Fashion Week schedule, after showing for five years in New York, but Preen have slipped in like they’d never left. Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi take a theme and run with it. Referencing Derek Jarman’s cult punk film, Jubilee, an anarchic signature ran through the entire collection. Predominantly sticking to a red, black and white palette, allowing only flashes of blue as a punctuation, Preen adapted their feminine silhouettes for an edgier influence. Pencil skirts were split thigh high with silver zips; demure dresses were revealed to be entirely backless; and elegant gowns were topped with sharply tailored tux jackets. While it felt sexier than before, they refrained from removing it too far from the core customer in a collection of must- have pieces: a coat in a red-to-leopard-print dégradé; a crystal-embellished mohair sweater; a black leather pencil skirt with delicate lace underlay; a subtler-than-it sounds bustle-backed skirt. This is punk for a refined generation.

There is something about the Temperley girl that makes me feel messy, because she is just so well put-together. And never more so than for AW13. Like the perfect Hitchcock blonde (The Birds was a source of inspiration), with her hair in the neatest bun, the Temperley girl has kicked it up a notch, in her perfect Charlotte Olympia pumps. The look has become less about skipping through meadows, and more about a working city wardrobe – with weekends still spent at the country pad. The Middleton- sister-friendly dresses still play an important role, but now share a stage with cropped swing coats, wide wool trousers and repeating prints, reminders that Alice Temperley has more in common with some London designers than we might first think. The Temperley girl rises early, does yoga, eats well and hits the pillow around the time more messy girls consider going out. But in seamed stockings and black leather racing gloves, there is more to little Miss Temperley than meets the eye. Certainly too pure to be pink.

While we know what to expect at a Vivienne Westwood show, that doesn’t make her any less relevant. Dame Viv might paint the models’ faces like the most artful child would attempt, and backcomb their hair so that it’s practically wider than the catwalk, but strip that away and the clothes are wearable and women-friendly. In fact, the theme this season was quality over quantity. Sure, Westwood pairs a zebra-stripe teal coat with multi-striped tights, mustard suede shoes and an orb bag, and together it’s a look for a specific Westwood fan. But, separately, they are all powerful pieces that alone can hold an outfit. The draped figure-caressing dresses that she has built an empire on prove their worth on every model, for, with curves or without, they create the allure of an hourglass figure. If you have never tried one on, I urge you to. Then there is the Dame herself. As soon as she takes to the catwalk, leading her models in the finale, you realise her worth. She is London, and LFW would be a duller place without her.