Front-row wardrobes at London Fashion Week reveal latest trends
There is huge snobbery concerning the fashion week wardrobe, and particularly during London Fashion Week, strangely enough. Although this is considered a more laid-back environment than the dressier "power" capitals of Paris and Milan, where you are never more than one step away from the intrusive zoom lenses of photo-bloggers such as The Sartorialist or Jak & Jil, the pressure is still on to look supercool.
There are added complications, too. Last week in the British capital, the fashion pack rose with gusto to the challenge of arctic winds, rain, precarious cobbled stones and roadworks in the run up to the Olympics.
Despite the fact that fancy limos were forced to drop off A-list fashionistas streets away from actual show venues, even by day three, heels had not conceded to flats.
Thick winter coats were overlooked for new season pastel brights – particularly in sunshine yellow – and apart from American Vogue's Hamish Bowles, who wore a traditional Pakistani Qaraqul-style hat throughout, it might as well have been June.
The show of the week was Burberry Prorsum, where guests were treated to a starry turnout that included The Black Eyed Peas' Will.I.Am (wearing gold nutty professor sunglasses), the pop singer Will Young in a very smart suit and, of course, Anna Wintour, who wore a trend debuting on the autumn/winter 2012/13 catwalks: historical Tudor-style floral brocade prints worthy of the mulberry red interiors of Buckingham Palace, the seat of the Windsor clan.
More in keeping with London's edgier street vibe was Kanye West, who donned faded denim, to the knitwear guru Mark Fast's show, alongside the Girls Aloud bandmember Nicola Roberts, in a pastel plaid Savile Row-style trouser suit by Henry Holland.
At Alice Temperley's evening show, the pregnant Peaches Geldof wore a white floor-length gown. As did Minnie Driver, who looked as if she had dressed for a summer beach wedding (er, why?).
Actually, in a season where sherbet pastels are the toast of fashion magazines, it was interesting to see so many fashion editors actually wearing trends they are championing. Sugary pink and lime prom skirts were a predominant front-row trend, along with neon skinny belts and dangly, tribal earrings. In many cases, these colours set off matching hair shades.
The fashion illustrator Julie Verhoeven, who until recently preferred fuchsia hair, has gone toxic yellow. When it comes to hair colour in London, pale blue is very much the new pink.
Other fashion guests opted for elegant, classic ensembles suitable for any global function. The architect Zaha Hadid sat front row at the Central Saint Martins MA show, wearing a dark blue knitted tunic ensemble with ankle boots.
The fashion show regular Bip Ling, the blogger, "It" girl and art fiend, rocked a quirky, Americana style, which was much documented daily by the many photographers buzzing around her. Bip's preppy knits, printed leggings, cat's-eye specs and girlie bows were cute as a button as was Alexa Chung, also going down the 1950s route but always with giant Prada metallic wedgies.
Off-duty, "dress down" chic comes into its own here, where it's possible to catch supermodels such as Amber Valletta, Kristen McMenamy and Shalom Harlow and the actresses Michelle Williams and Downton Abbey's Michelle Dockery enjoying the guilty pleasure of a fashion show.
The day before Stella McCartney's return to London, Harlow and Valletta checked out the stands at Somerset House, the official LFWHQ, wearing off-duty leather jackets, denim, boots and (bravely) no make-up.
There are always models lurking around the vicinity of fashion shows (obviously). Many dress up to get themselves noticed (when not working on the catwalk). Although they stand at least a metre taller than everyone else, you can spot a model a mile off because of what they wear: woolly hats with a pompom (that gives them yet more height); thick tights; tweed shorts; biker jackets and clumpy heels. And don't worry … they are ferried everywhere in nice, warm cars.
Although there were many venues criss-crossing London, the New Gen space sponsored by Topshop in the old Billingsgate fish market became the place to spot trendsetting front rowers.
In the shadow of Tower Bridge, this is where Scott Schuman, the fashion photojournalist behind The Sartorialist blog, based himself.
Other London Fashion Week wardrobe must-haves included gold sweaters and rucksacks including the slick, black, The Wedge "commuter" case – which has just become available on the Apple website in the UAE. Just large enough to contain gizmos such as iPads, a Canon SLR or Samsung Galaxy ("gifted" to fashion editors in NY), this is just big enough to slide under your feet during shows and to stash a spare pair of Jimmy Choos in. During showtime, what more could you ask?
Julia Robson is a London-based fashion journalist, broadcaster and stylist
Updated: February 26, 2012 04:00 AM