Where are 3D goggles when you need them? They would certainly come in handy for those watching all the extreme layering at London Fashion Week. Over the past three days, the catwalks have been full of leather trench coats sliced just beneath the bust worn over lean Blade Runner-style, body-conscious silhouettes. There have been slim jackets with giant fur sleeves (particularly at Todd Lynn, where Janet Jackson rocked up wearing the signature huge shoulder pads) and raised panelling that juts out from the hips (Louise Goldin and Hakaan).
This, along with a trend for soft-versus-hard fabrics (such as a featherweight sheer long chiffon gown worn with soft, chunky sweaters) can equally stretch or slice up the body to create brave new proportions for autumn/winter 2010. "Layering is back but there's a very new way of doing it because volume is involved," explained Betty Jackson, whose show exemplified how extreme layering can also be extremely sensual. The British designer teamed harem-style trousers with voluminous tops cinched in with tight leather bustiers. She also played with fabric textures to heighten the layered effect, from velvet corduroy to sinuous gold jersey and paper-fine leather.
There was a distinctly Middle Eastern flavour to prints as well as many shapes. Even the vast six-metre backdrop to the runway appeared to be Islamic in design. It was, in fact, created by Jackson's daughter, Pascale Jackson-Cohen, a trained artist, and was based on Moroccan tiles. Her source of inspiration was the work of the Iranian-born artist Afruz Amighi, the winner of the Jameel Prize for contemporary art at London's Victoria & Albert Museum. The Jameel Prize was founded by Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel, who provided the financial support for the renovation of the V&A's Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art in July 2006. The award goes to artists inspired by the Islamic traditions of craft and design.
"Amighi's work is the most beautiful thing. It looks like delicate lace with light and shadow projected on to it, but is in fact plastic. It's the sort of object I would love as a screen in my house." Virtually every designer in London has embraced layering, although some are less extreme than others. Matthew Williamson, for instance, settled for a middle ground, slipping short-sleeved cropped fur gilets over leather jackets. Sienna and Savannah Miller's label, Twenty8Twelve, opted for the Topshop Unique's pile-it-all-on approach, going for layers of knits topped by a parka.
"There was a new sort of layering in New York," said Grazia's style director, Paula Reed, "with the double A-line at Marc Jacobs and uneven pleats at Proenza Schouler, but it was a lot looser than it's been in London. It's far more aggressive here." * The National