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London designers worked nostalgia, fantasy and kids’ stuff into their collections, wringing smiles from weary, cold and ever-cynical fashion folk.
“Beautiful things should almost always be fun and make you smile—otherwise it can get too serious,” says Anya Hindmarch.
For her presentation, Hindmarch employed the services of the world-class domino expert Robin Paul Weijers—who goes by the name of Mr. Domino. He and a team of eight domino experts set up 50,000 small tiles over the course of a week, that fell to precision theatrically revealing her handbags and clutches that were inspired by the game, as well as backgammon. The actual show was about four minutes long.
Sophia Webster took to the realms of fantasy for her collection, which featured a handbag made from holographic leather in the shape of a unicorn. Modeled by girls decked in psychedelic catsuits and rainbow-colored, unicorn-inspired hair, or displayed on birdhouses in the snowy “forest,” Webster’s designs were dramatic but playful—especially the thigh-high, lace-up gladiator boots in hologram leather.
At Fashion East, Ryan Lo was inspired by the cutesy kitschiness of Hello Kitty and Sailor Moon, while Ashley Williams’ models carried teddy bears as handbags. Even London’s new king of conceptual cool, J.W. Anderson, got in on the game with a pinball machine print.
“I’m not averse to a bit of fantasy at all,” says Nicholas Kirkwood. He recently unveiled shoes for Selfridges inspired by Oz The Great And Powerful. “I had to create a shoe that would work well for each character, the good fairy and two wicked witches. It was great fun.”
So why all this frivolity now? Carmen Borgonovo, buying director at My-Wardrobe.com, offers, “Perhaps there is a subconscious desire for happiness, an escapism during a stagnant economy, but more importantly I think London designers always think out of the box and find inspiration in the most creative and personal places. There is a sense of comfort in childhood memories and unicorns, teddy bears and Hello Kitty are uplifting and positive references—so why not make them fashionable.”