Garden gnomes lined the steps at the venerable Claridges hotel, fake grass covered the floor and two fantastical trees blossoming with flowers and filled with soft climbing geckos arched over the catwalk at Mulberry. The creative director Emma Hill was looking back to the early days of the leathergoods brand, the 1970s Somerset kitchen table around which it was conceived, and the result was a quintessentially British approach to psychedelia, bucolic and charming.
Soft apricot and mint shades were used in pretty prints, jacquards and floral lace, and buttery leather was used more heavily than before, as wide trousers and beautiful jackets fastened with new “bonbon” clasps – the same fastenings being used on the bags. Bias-cut silk patterned dresses looked as 1930s as 1970s, and pleats appeared everywhere, most notably kicking out to one side on asymmetrical dresses and highlighted as box-pleats with horizontal paillettes on apricot and black silk chiffon.
Perhaps the standout model was the black poodle, which came out twice wearing dog coats and apparently loving the attention. Looking at the collection close-up backstage, the lizard connection was revealed: the new gecko pattern, used as a print and a jacquard on clothes, bags and high sandals, is enticing, quirky, witty and distinctive – everything Mulberry aims to be.
After a frantic race from Claridges to the Savoy, the Roksanda Ilincic collection started off beautifully, with a very chic, understated take on disco. A funk soundtrack rammed the point home, as lovely slender dresses in black and white with bright blue or orange accents and diagonally-slashed panelling filed past. Fabrics were mixed up, with silk crepe next to nubbly tweeds, and bishop sleeves billowed sassily. Things became a bit costumey, however, with giant paperboy caps and cartoonishly wide flares in neon orange or yellow. Notably when Ilincic herself took her bow, to Sly and the Family Stone’s Dance To The Music, she was wearing one of the chic black dresses, and that seems likely to be her customers’ choice too.
Simone Rocha created a huge buzz in her first collection last season: she is certainly a talented designer with a Central Saint Martins MA behind her, but she also happens to be the daughter of London Fashion Week stalwart John Rocha. This collection confirmed that she has both a creative, innovative approach and an eye for the wearable: dresses in white eyelet cotton were pretty, but the most memorable pieces were oversized lace dresses with a dropped waist and full skirt in eyewateringly fluorescent colours, and sparkling charcoal or black tweed dresses with a similar silhouette that would have made Lagerfeld himself proud. She looks like having a strong future in the industry, regardless of her fashion dynasty roots.
The National’s fashion correspondent Gemma Champ is blogging every day from London Fashion Week.
More from LFW 2012
• Day one: fragile flavours from Willow and Bora Aksu • Day two: a bunch of raving hippies but John Rocha goes against the grain • Day three: feeling blue at Ford, Schwab, Temperley, Smith • Day four: old-school revivals at Louise Gray, Burberry, Richard Nicoll, Osman and a family affair at Smythson
Read Gemma’s coverage from New York Fashion Week including an exclusive interview with celebrity designer Victoria Beckham.