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Checks, punk, vintage vie at London show
Associated Press
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LONDON: Tweed checks at Mulberry, punk styling at Preen, pretty vintage-style dresses at Temperley London. Designers showcased their latest autumn and winter collections at London Fashion Week Sunday, and the diversity meant there was something for every woman.

Preen, by designer duo Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi, opened day three of the five-day event with sleek, clean tailoring combined with biker-style zips. The punk references returned later, when iconic designer Vivienne Westwood brought her eccentric mix of fashion and politics to the tartan and flamboyant outfits on her catwalk.

Westwood, 71, is known as much for her designs as her activism, and on Sunday she marched down her Red Label catwalk dressed in a T-shirt printed with a giant image of her face and the slogan “I’m Julian Assange.”

The designer has been selling the T-shirts to support the founder of the secrets-busting organization WikiLeaks, whom she has called a “real hero.”

Not everyone agreed with Westwood’s politics, but many at her show admired her designs. Jackets and blazers were beautifully tailored to accentuate the waist and hips, and dresses and coats were draped and folded in all the right places to draw the eye to the curves. The colorful palette included delicious plums, teals, and metallics.

A darker palette of navy, deep burgundy and bottle green featured at heritage brand Mulberry, which focused its collection on rich leather and English checks. Plaids and hounds-tooths, which were also seen at Emilia Wickstead, seem to be emerging as a trend in London this season.

Meanwhile, Alice Temperley, whose elegant designs are favored by the Duchess of Cambridge, offered Hitchcock-inspired full skirts, jewel-print jacquard separates, and decadently embellished evening gowns.

L’Wren Scott, the American designer, former model and partner of Mick Jagger, also showed her catwalk display in London for the first time Sunday.

The biannual fashion week is set to unveil even more new styles in the next two days. Industry giant Burberry Prorsum, best known for its classic trench coats, is set to display more English-inspired styles at a star-studded show Monday.

Also Monday, celebrity designer Tom Ford is presenting his first full catwalk show in London. Young London-based designers Christopher Kane and Erdem are also joining him on the show schedule.

VIVIENNE WESTWOOD

RED LABELThe grand dame of British fashion not only caused a stir with her catwalk activism; she also divided opinion with her outrageous makeup looks for the models.

Chalky white faces were paired with eyes and lips outlined in stark, cartoonish lines, a look that got everyone talking.

Still, it’s the clothes that most people came for, and Westwood didn’t fail to wow. A metallic zebra-stripe was printed on coats and a striking prom style dress with stiff underskirts, and an iridescent foil-like tight biker jacket that shimmered purple and green was paired with harem pants dripping in sequins.

Drama aside, a plum trouser suit, a simple cardigan and skirt ensemble in the same color, and a tartan blazer were among some of the more wearable pieces.

MULBERRY

Mulberry played to its strengths – traditional English design themes with a whimsical twist.

The latest collection by the heritage brand, best known for its leather handbags, featured rich leather capes and coats in mohair, wool or luxurious sheepskin. Some of the outerwear was adorned with high furry collars, and many sported pretty – if not very practical – bell sleeves that end just above the elbow.

Checks were used in many forms, including supersized, sequined, and on panel details on shoulders and sleeves.

Deep, autumnal shades dominating the collection, and even the floral prints were muted and dark.

Silhouettes tended to hide the waistline, and layering was a key look – especially box-pleated or swing skirts layered over calf-length trousers.

TEMPERLEY LONDON

Alice Temperley has based her latest womenswear collection on the classic style of “The Birds” actress Tippi Hedren.

The British designer, who admitted that she is obsessed with the romance and glamour of old movies, showed high-waisted full skirts paired with simple cashmere jumpers, swing coats, sheer blouses, illusion necklines and bejeweled evening gowns.

“It’s from a bygone era but we all secretly want to look like that,” Temperley said backstage after the show.

PREEN

Sophisticated and sleek with a little bit of punk: Preen’s latest collection for autumn and winter hints at an edgy biker girl, but any rebelliousness is tamed by a minimalist aesthetic and clean modern tailoring.

The label unveiled long-line, mannish jackets, leather and fur bikers, and short dresses with open backs or plunging V-necks.

Everything was designed in a strict color palette of black, red and white, though leopard prints (in those same colors) helped to break up the monotony. Biker zips were definitely a theme – they were everywhere, on jackets, on the front and back of the hips, and up the side of a leather skirt.

The runway took a more playful turn and brightened up a bit at the end of the collection, which featured multi-colored jewels encrusted onto high-collared blouses, sheer black vests and a black jumper in a pretty crisscross pattern.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 19, 2013, on page 13.
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