LONDON — London Fashion Week saw its busiest day so far Sunday, with editors and buyers rushing across the city for back-to-back spring womenswear preview shows. With so much to see, what was memorable?
Volume was one key feature, with loose trapeze tops and skirts playing a starring role at both Temperley London and Mulberry. Another is think pink: the color, already so popular in stores this fall and winter, looks set to enjoy another season in the limelight come spring. Preen had bright neon pink in its collection, while Temperley employed all shades of blush, rose and fuchsia for an all-out romantic mood.
But talk about memorable can't leave out British fashion's grand dame Vivienne Westwood, who dialed up her typical mix of fashion and environmental activism by opening her show with a modern dance performance by model Lily Cole.
The solo dance, used to symbolize the destruction caused by climate change, almost sidelined Westwood's designs, though her fans were still happy to see another collection of their favorite cinched-in outfits and draped dresses.
Sunday was Day 3 of London Fashion Week, and the fashion elite, led by American Vogue editor Anna Wintour and other celebrities, was seen at shows from Westwood to Matthew Williamson, Jonathan Saunders, Mary Katrantzou and Unique by Topshop.
Shoe designers Manolo Blahnik and Sophia Webster and heritage leather goods brand Smythson also presented collections to editors and buyers.
Romantic escapism has never looked more enticing than on Temperley London's new spring catwalk.
For 15 minutes, the collection transported the audience from wet and wind-swept London to a lush floral garden with grand ball gowns in the most feminine shades of pink and purple: pale and powdery carnation, dusty rose, and the vivid fuchsias and violets of tropical orchids.
Designer Alice Temperley, whose clients include the Duchess of Cambridge, said that she wanted to create a dreamy mood reminiscent of Mediterranean summer evenings under wisterias and vines.
There were petal appliques, oversized embroidered blooms, a striking orchid print and leopard thrown in for good measure. Skirts were billowing and swept the floor like wedding gowns, and were paired with matching swing coats. A black evening coat was adorned all over with ruffled black roses to add to the sense of drama and occasion.
Preen's new collection was made up of clean cut shapes, colorful geometric prints and neon pink accents, and judging from the audience's reaction this seemed to be a crowd pleaser of a show.
The label's design duo Justin Thornton and Thea Bragazzi opened with white structured dresses with neat collars and geometric patchwork. Strappy slip dresses, dreamy, printed skirts with romantic handkerchief hems and mini dresses in pastel blue and pink with cutouts followed.
Many featured belts and harnesses that wrap and drape across the body, held together at the waist or the back with shiny silver clasps. The collection stepped up a notch in vibrancy in the second half, with bright neon pinks and shimmery, semi sheer plastic raincoat textures.
Westwood opened her show with a modern dance performed by model Lily Cole, a piece that she said was inspired by Hans Christian Anderson's fable about the red shoes that won't stop dancing. It symbolized all that was wrong about how humans treat the environment, she said.
"I just use fashion as an excuse to talk about politics," Westwood said frankly. Activism and fashion aren't in conflict for her, she added. "Because I'm a fashion designer, it gives me a voice, which is really good."
The designs that followed Cole's performance – one in which she leapt and spun around in an ethereal grey gown, bathed in red light – carried through with the theme. One model wore a climate change slogan T-shirt under a metallic brocade tube dress, and there were giant fabric flowers and green floral prints to reference nature. All models wore exaggerated, frightening zombie-like makeup.
Regardless of the moral message, Westwood's signature looks were all there, although the collection was relatively small: draped dresses, slim tailored coats, the cinched-in dress suit, the femme fatale jumpsuit.
Heritage luxury brand Mulberry always sprinkles nods to traditional Britishness on its catwalks, and its new spring showcase was no different: Sixties London, English roses – and a bulldog called Turbo.
For her final collection at the brand, creative director Emma Hill gave us loose swinging shapes, wide-leg trousers, florals and luxurious leather outfits.
The colors were limited to a no-nonsense palette of icy blue, cream, navy and orange, but it won't be a Mulberry show without a dash of fun. So models walked with a bulldog on a leash, dressed in the same floral outfits as their human companions.
The show opened with model of the moment Cara Delavigne striding out in a pale blue shirt, a somewhat wintry black and grey floral swing coat and matching tailored shorts. Lighter, breezier outfits followed, like the loose pale blue or peach T-shirt and culottes combos with sheer horizontal panels.
Sylvia Hui can be reached at http://twitter.com/sylviahui