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Mulberry, Illincic wrap up London Fashion Week
Associated Press
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LONDON: The models have packed up, the temporary runways are gone. London Fashion Week wrapped up Tuesday five hectic days of women’s wear shows, a whirlwind display of new colors and textures for next spring from big name designers and newcomers alike.

London hosts a more eclectic collection of designers and labels than fashion weeks in New York, Milan and Paris, and the latest crop of spring and summer designs seen this week has been a big mish-mash: Futuristic metallic leathers at Burberry, sweet ’50s pastels at Temperley, ’70s disco fever at Jonathan Saunders, and ’90s minimalism at quite a few other shows.

While there was no overriding theme, there were micro-trends set to make their way to high-street stores come spring. All-white and monochrome outfits were seen everywhere, as were pretty confectionery shades of mint and lemon.

Futuristic, shiny materials like plastic or fabrics with a foil-like, iridescent or even holographic sheen were popular, as was the use of sheer, feminine layers in organza, chiffon or mesh.

Things kicked off Tuesday with ’70s-inspired florals, wide-leg trousers and mannish suits at luxury label Mulberry, best-known for its leather handbags. The collection, delivered with a humorous British flair, nodded to several of the season’s popular trends: sleek trouser suits, all-season leather, metallic jacquard, and head-to-toe ice-cream pastel shades.

Model-turned-designer Roksanda Illincic followed with a collection of dresses with simple feminine shapes and minimal detailing, leaving her use of beautiful color combinations and glossy fabrics to do the talking.

Day Five also saw collections by a handful of younger and adventurous designers. Simone Rocha, the daughter of British fashion institution John Rocha, deftly combined schoolgirl innocence and tough attitude, while maverick duo Meadham Kirchoff sent the party home with a spectacularly whimsical show of Marie Antoinette fashion gone mad.

Tuesday’s shows ended a week that saw models and celebrities like Kate Moss and One Direction’s Harry Styles flocking to the catwalks’ front row. Lady Gaga stole the limelight Sunday with a starring turn at milliner Philip Treacy’s comeback show.

The fashion brigade moves on to Milan for more shows that begin Wednesday. Paris Fashion Week begins next Tuesday.

Mulberry

Luxury brand Mulberry has ditched most of the playfulness in its recent seasons, showcasing a spring collection that’s still quirky but definitely grown-up.

Mulberry’s show at London’s swanky Claridge’s hotel was decorated with dozens of garden gnomes and fake geckos crawling on rose bushes – a typically wacky atmosphere of pretty English garden meets exotic creatures.

But appearances were deceptive, and the clothes themselves were more sophisticated than the setting suggested.

Creative director Emma Hill sent models down the catwalk in oversized leather biker jackets and mannish tuxedos in navy, black and white.

The 1970s-inspired collection had floral embroidery, floor-length skirts, flower buttons and high-waisted wide legs, updated with metallic jacquard printed with mini-flowers and geckos.

Leather separates and trouser suits balanced flirty pleated skirts. There were muted brown ensembles along with head-to-toe sweet pastels in mint and peach – including pastel-colored shoes and handbags, the brand’s bestselling item.

Roksanda Illincic

Taking her inspiration from artists, Roksanda Illincic’s catwalk show had plenty of ensembles for the woman who wants to look stylish without trying too hard. Simple, streamlined shapes like tailored shifts and breezy A-line dresses came in high-impact color combinations that really popped: Tangerine with cobalt, mango, dirty pink or white.

Sometimes all the colors came together on one dress, like a modern abstract painting.

Models cradled oversized satin clutch bags and wore patent courts with multi-colored block heels.

The show, staged in the Savoy Hotel’s glamorous ballroom, ended with a series of ensembles made in a glossy, laminated organza.

Illincic counts U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and Britain’s Kate Middleton among fans of her sleek style. Her show had many of her popular signature elements: beautiful colors, high-waisted silhouettes, feminine bell sleeves and modest mid-calf or ankle-grazing hemlines.

But this season the designer said she wanted to shake up the elegance with casual wear – like taking an evening dress shape and making it out of T-shirt or jersey materials.

“It gives an element of fun, something unexpected,” she said.

Simone Rocha

Budding talent Simone Rocha has her designer dad’s giant shoes to fill, but she seems to be taking it all in her stride.

The 26-year-old showcased her latest spring collection at London Fashion Week Tuesday, a collection of all-white outfits, sheer cut-out panels, neons and leather that mixed schoolgirl innocence with cool attitude.

The collection started with dazzling white button-up shirts and boyish shapes in Broderie Anglaise, but the prim look was soon undercut by thigh-revealing, irregular shaped sheer panels on the front or back of skirts.

High-collared, neat shapes in muted shades of butter and toffee followed, but soon things were shaken up with a pale sundress overlaid with a high-shine neon yellow PVC plastic, all-over metallic gold foil vests and skirts, and floral-crocheted skirts and oversized jackets in fluorescent yellow and neon coral.

Models wore mannish brogues with clear plastic soles and heels, a design that has been worn by celebrities including Rihanna and proved to be Rocha’s best-selling product.

Rocha debuted at London Fashion Week in 2010.

Meadham Kirchoff

English-French design duo Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff are known for staging riotously fun and different shows, and this season they did not fail to meet expectations with a collection piled high with over-the-top, Marie Antoinette style corsets, bodices, bows and frills.

Although the invitation and the opening track told of a humorous “damsel in distress” theme, the models were more like fairy godmothers with an enchanted wardrobe.

Acting sleepy or deep in thought in their theatrical outfits, models drifted around stands set up on the catwalk and plucking roses and cupcakes from them.

There were puffy sleeves, thigh-high boots, feather gloves and big skirts layered over skinny trousers, all embellished with lashings of bows and jewels.

Not very practical, but certainly shows the fun and entertaining face of London fashion.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 20, 2012, on page 13.
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