x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Weekend the time of playful experiment

The laid back atmosphere that pervades the weekend shows in no way means that designers aren't just as anxiously pushing their wares.

Lacoste gave bold colours a sporting chance.
Lacoste gave bold colours a sporting chance.

Attending fashion shows over the weekend seems less laborious than the weekday sessions. Editors and retailers are less hurried, the atmosphere more casual and greetings more convivial. But for designers, the casual ambience was just the right backdrop to push their signature styles in new directions. Lacoste's tennis-themed shows of the past gave way to bold colour-blocking that was more chic streetwear than sportswear. The show was transmitted to Dubai just half an hour later at a glamorous event at the Park Hyatt, with Michel Lacoste in attendance.

Meanwhile the Nepal-born, New York-based Prabal Gurung showed that apart from the red carpet dresses that Demi Moore and Hollywood starlets crave, he can turn out tailored pieces that will create just as much demand. Alas, Alexander Wang, whose adventurous and enthusiastic designs have propelled him to the upper echelons of the industry in just a few short years, seemed too zealous this time. The athletic-inspired collection he showed last season seemed miles away from the overwrought styling and try-hard looks of his most recent outing.

The menswear designer Patrik Ervell refined his quirky work for schoolboy types, but along the way added clinical elements such as anoraks and scarves made with latex, and a punky edge with Dr Martens boots. Altuzarra, too, shook things up a bit. For the past two seasons, his polished femininity has garnered a following among the power editors such as Carine Roitfeld of Paris Vogue and Cathy Horyn of The New York Times. Last year, his collection was one of the best, and Anna Wintour, the grande dame of all fashionistas, caught wind of his talents and decided to take her front-row perch this season. Altuzarra replaced the pretty eyelets from last season with seductive leather materials in taut silhouettes that called to mind Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. There was even a black leather catsuit.

Ohne Titel, the womenswear label by Flora Gill and Alexa Adams, has in just a few seasons also earned an A-list following. Apart from the influential bloggers such as Susie Bubble, who sat front-row, there was a generous helping of cool downtown habitués added to the American Vogue contingent and Roitfeld. With a captive audience of this calibre, the label seemed to have simplified the complex pieces of seasons past into more wearable, but still standout looks. There was wool panelling in leather, as well as simple, military-inspired blouses, net dresses, wide-legged trousers and randomly ruched dresses, with embellishment of Swarovski crystals.

The experimental mood was also seen in pieces with diverse proportions, but whether you liked them or not, they at least make a change from the dourness of yesteryear. * Robert Cordero