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Hitchcock heroines, Studio 54 girls and the Wicked Witch of the West were some of the women evoked by London collections as the fall season continued.
This story first appeared in the February 15, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Giles: There was a Seventies disco vibe to this rich, ultrafeminine collection that featured miles of suede fringe, amber crystal embellishments and glistening sequins. Giles Deacon worked olive gray suede into flapper dresses with ruffled hems and fringe details or into tight bodices on evening numbers. He sprinkled sequins large and small on T-shirt dresses, A-line skirts and sleeveless shifts, including black spangles shaped to look like cartoonish eyes. Amber-colored stones spilled down the front of a white gown reminiscent of Halston’s designs, while patches of red tulle cascaded over a bright red ballgown. For the past few seasons, Deacon has been on a roll, and he shows no signs of stopping. His work is worlds beyond that of most of his London contemporaries.
Luella: Park your broomsticks at the door. Although Luella Bartley’s heroine was more Wicked Witch of the West than Sixties-perfect Samantha Stephens of “Bewitched,” there were plenty of great looks, including black bell-sleeve coats and full-skirted dresses in coal tones inset with gold. And when she wasn’t trawling around the land of Oz, Bartley was visiting the Tyrol. Some of her minidresses and short wool toggle coats featured subtle embroidery in an edelweiss pattern, while smocking details and colored embroidery wound their way around dresses’ hemlines.
Gareth Pugh: Gareth Pugh’s show suggested a confab between Genghis Khan, “Predator” and “The Wizard of Oz,” and, believe it or not, it worked a treat. Sculpted, armorlike jackets and skirts were made entirely of zippers and worn over matching leggings, while sweater dresses came covered in thousands of glittering safety pins. The designer used goatskin — in all its long, black hairy splendor — for voluminous circle skirts and the shoulders of zip-front dresses and molded python into rounded shapes for the bottoms of skirts and sleeves. All in all, it was a dark, savage — and beautifully executed — fantasy.
Asprey: Hakan Rosenius’ ultraluxe collection, inspired by Hitchcock heroines, was packed with goodies for Bond Street princesses — and their Manhattan and Moscow counterparts. There were vanilla bouclé suits with short, swingy jackets; neat, quilted leather trenches in shades of silvery copper, and chunky Mongolian lamb jackets. Some looks had sparkling flourishes, too, among them black-and-white tweed suits pavéd in sequins.
Vivienne Westwood Red Label: This commercial collection was last shown on the London runways in the mid-Nineties and, according to the Westwood camp, it’s here to stay at future fashion weeks. For all her eccentricities — and there are many — Vivienne Westwood is well versed in the sort of clothes that put money in the bank. She sent out corset dresses with pencil skirts and her trademark draping along with punk-inspired silhouettes such as oversize T-shirt dresses, HotPants worn with torn fishnets and slouchy tartan waistcoats paired with tailored skirts. There was a Seventies glam-rock current running through the collection, too, with suede jackets trimmed in pink sheepskin, chunky stacked heels and jersey dresses with printed checks. And, because woman cannot live by fashion alone, there was a typically Westwood-esque appeal in the show notes to free the prisoners of Guantánamo.
Erdem: A Garden of Eden’s worth of floral prints bloomed across Erdem Moralioglu’s satin and chiffon dresses, but the designer’s flowers were far from cloying. In fact, he gave his prints a techno twist, blurring green and red blossoms and insects, and quilting pastel green leaves and flowers onto the full, floor-sweeping skirts of Empire-line dresses. Some of the more structured pieces, however, such as funnel-neck satin jackets and pouf-sleeve satin dresses, felt cumbersome. A collection of trenchcoats, one in contrasting khaki and black, provided an elegant counterpoint.
Antoni & Alison: In typically theatrical fashion, Antoni Burakowski and Alison Roberts staged a tea party for their fall collection at a Georgian mansion, complete with World War II-era touches that included a vintage portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the wall — with a mustache drawn on — “God Save the Queen” blasting on the stereo and an old-fashioned torch-lit stage for a runway. After a trumpet fanfare, the collection of Forties-style silhouettes was unveiled: full or pencil skirts in distinctively patterned tweed, boatneck silk party dresses cinched at the waist and sweet reindeer-emblazoned sweaters.
Issa: Daniella Helayel’s gal is never far from the disco floor, and this season she’s dressing the part to perfection. It doesn’t matter that Studio 54 is history. Its spirit lives on in Helayel’s fluid, halterneck gowns in magenta jersey and animal-print chiffon; her glittery green and gold ponchos, and vertiginous suede heels designed by London “It” girl and heiress Charlotte Dellal. But, alas, what to do when the sun comes up? Issa’s muse has a day job, too, where she can wear a tailored indigo denim waistcoat with wide-leg jeans, or a few formfitting cotton shift dresses with leopard-print silk scarves knotted at the neck.
Mulberry: Mulberry’s girl embraced her kooky side in a bright, breezy presentation that showcased the talents of Stuart Vevers and the brand’s new footwear designer, Jonathan Kelsey. The ready-to-wear collection was eye-poppingly bright, with vast, shaggy, lipstick-red Tibetan lambskin coats; lemon yellow minidresses, and rhubarb-toned, fake fur bomber jackets. Shrunken, charcoal-colored cashmere cardigans worn over bright minidresses offered an essential bit of contrast. Bags came in a rainbow of shades, too: There were tangerine patent clutches; royal blue ponyskin shoulder bags and oversize lizard holdalls in raspberry and bright blue. There was some bold footwear from Kelsey, including flat, lace-up shoes in fuchsia suede and sexy knee-high riding boots.
PHOTOS by GIOVANNI GIANNONI