If you’d have asked me for a single piece of advice at the start of London Fashion Week, I’d have said: buy cropped flare pants. If you ask me again today, I’ll also recommend getting out of your comfort zone, going for the pieces that say less about a designer’s place de naissance — that is, what so clearly brands him for all consumers to see, and more about where that designer wants to go, as evidenced by the experimental garb.
In the case of Christopher Kane, where, don’t get me wrong, there were still a fair handful of the endemic pieces: neon lace, swirly, colored trim on dark back drops and geometric shapes rendered in primary colors and pasted together as though collaged, there was also lots of fringe and paint splattering and yarned knits.
At Peter Pilotto, you still had the prints that might make you tick — they were on a couple of flimsy dresses and lightweight skirts, perfect for a balmy summer evening. But entirely new for the designers were diagonally striped poplin blouses, cut out to expose shoulders and solid colored pants, plus skirts with exposed stitching, some shaped as triangles and circles that encompassed bands across the garments. There were also these ruffles — some really strong, like on a blouse paired with a royal blue culottes or on two pastel dresses (one off the shoulder and another crew neck and long sleeve) — and others that kind of looked out of place, like on these two zip-up blouses that paled in comparison to the rest of the offering but still spoke to a new vision for Pilotto.
Then at Marques’Almeida, all kind of cool shit happened. Last season, the design duo proved their dexterity beyond shredded denim with kimono-style blouses and pants set on brightly colored brocade. This season, while they stayed committed to their shredder, they played with soft chiffon counterbalanced by thick rims of dark eye makeup around the eyes of their models. There were also a couple of leather pieces — some rendered in ruffle, others in jackets and pops of color like fuchsia and green; finally, turtleneck collars that look like belts plus closing layered-cake pieces that, even through their near-Comme des Garçons demeanor, said new Almeida.
And at Toga — let there be color! — sheer paneling and unexpected quirks, like patent leather inside a series of ruffles or a block of gold sequins on the top of a sculptural dress spoke acutely to the aesthetic this brand is building. Less expected were the more moderate pieces, like a pleated red mid-length skirt or plain white silk blouse, all of which seemed to say it’s only the beginning.
Feature collage by Elizabeth Tamkin