The final day of London Fashion Week underlined several trends that have surfaced over the past five days.
Burberry draws A-listers for trenchant finale to London Fashion Week
The final day of London Fashion Week underlined several trends that have surfaced over the past five days. Notably "hyper-surreal" florals (Clements Ribeiro) and stylised florals, where colours were intense and prints ranged from silhouettes of flowers (Jonathan Saunders) to 3D couture effect with silk that looked like peonies about to burst into bloom (Felicity Brown at Fashion East). There was also much evidence of panelling and collage-effects, where strips of fabric are sliced apart then rearranged (Marios Schwab) while keeping a neat, form-fitting shape. Most interesting was the the unusual colour palette of neon and fluorescent with accents of putty and verdigris (Jaeger).
Shows today highlighted why London is still relevant on the global stage. Fashion East, an initiative that supports designers just starting out, is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Heikki Salonen, Felicity Brown and Simone Rocha (the daughter of the designer John Rocha) were today's new names, hoping to one day achieve the success of others who have also come from this stable, such as Jonathan Saunders, Marios Schwab and House of Holland.
Brown was one of three designers who offered edgy and modern eveningwear. Her collection featured body-conscious dresses with 60 layers of hand-dyed, swirling silk. Backstage, she explained she had had to "carve" into them to create the petal-like structures. Jonathan Saunders focused on structured baby-doll shapes; Christian Blanken proved traditional sportswear favourites such as jersey and nylon can be used for eveningwear when beaded with jet - luxurious, yet so simple.
The Burberry Prorsum show once again drew the entire A-list fashion fraternity to London and attracted a stellar celebrity front row. Sarah Jessica Parker sat next to the young musician-turned-model George Craig, and other stars of the current campaign. Other front-rowers included Alexa Chung, Venus Williams and members of the boy band The Cheek. As soon as Anna Wintour had been deposited in her seat by her bouncers, the show - which was streamed live online to a global audience of millions, and to 25 international Burberry flagship stores where customers were poised with iPads, ready to "click the catwalk" - began.
Kicking off with a trench coat-inspired jacket in buttery soft leather, cinched with a green patent leather belt, the black leather sleeves gave a taste of what was to come. Quilted motocross jackets were the lynchpin of the show. As well as in black these came in shiny aqua and putty patent, and were worked into python. Some were teamed with skin-tight leather trousers and spiky shoes, which caused several catwalk incidents where models tumbled over, in one case alarmingly so.
Others went over skin-tight dresses, many in leopard and animal print. The more-is-more ethos continued with jackets studded with scary-looking spikes - all over, in one case. This exuded an air of modern armour. Apart from a section featuring dresses held in place by black neckline panels (and the model Tali Lennox, the daughter of the singer Annie, whose distinctive voice could be heard belting out the soundtrack), the show lacked a certain newness.
The ruched satin dresses in viridian and dusty rose were very reminiscent of the last collection, or possible the whole thing was just very Burberry. Burberry has become a brand synonymous with high-octane glamour and luxury outerwear, particularly leather - if anything is going to trigger a stampede for black biker jackets, this is it. It will, however, be noted by the adoring fashion crowd that besides ditching the shearling, the designer Christopher Bailey has not pushed on from where he left off.
Could this be because profits since the last show in March - which have given the British luxury giant double-digit growth in sales - have made it hard not to put on the brakes, trendwise? Why not give more of what customers want when python trench coats costing $4,700 (Dh17,300) a pop are selling like hotcakes? Besides, Burberry has always been about luxury outerwear not breaking fashion boundaries. The promise of getting one of these biker jackets delivered in a staggering six weeks - that is almost six months before the collection lands in stores - which is what Burberry offers with its "Retail Theatre" project, will no doubt prove irresistible to many women who love luxury designer wear of the "bling" variety.
* Julia Robson