A few rising talents and some familiar faces on the London scene.
Reynold Pearce and Andrew Fionda, aka Pearce Fionda, are not exactly what you’d call newcomers to the London Fashion Week lineup. They gathered numerous industry accolades from 1996 through 1999, when they were regulars on the LFW schedule, and this season, they are making a return to the catwalk after a 14-year absence.
“It’s been at the back of our minds for a while now, and we just felt that the time was right,” said Pearce. “It seemed that our style of sophisticated and glamorous dressing, with an attention to unusual cutting, wasn’t represented at the moment.”
Pearce and Fionda, who met in 1985, when they were both studying fashion in college, have not been far from the industry in the intervening years. The pair design a collection for Debenhams together, while Pearce has been teaching — he says he’s “a big advocate of technique and pattern-cutting” — and Fionda was running vintage boutiques in Brighton.
Their return to the catwalk promises an emphasis on special-occasion clothes and dresses that play on their strengths of pattern-cutting.
“This season is an evolution of what we’re known for,” said Pearce. “It started from trying to think of new ways of applying our technique of cutting, so that formed the silhouette and the attention on the areas of the body that are going to be important for us this season; the back is our zone this season.”
Expect long, lean lines, some high-tech fabrics, a smattering of embellishment and flashes of flesh.
Pearce Fionda presents at 1 p.m. on Sept. 13.
— JULIA NEEL
This will be Claire Barrow’s third outing on the Fashion East runway, and after last season’s unexpected and well-received change of direction, she hopes she’ll win kudos again.
“Last season I took a risk — it was quite off the mark compared to my signature biker jackets,” Barrow said. “I went in a different direction to show that I can do more than a jacket, to show that I had this beautiful collection. It was really successful in [proving] that. Really good people were saying, ‘You know, we felt like we suddenly discovered that you can do this.’”
Her hand-painted leather jackets are what initially won her acclaim — she collaborated with Joseph on a limited-edition group of jackets — but the darkly whimsical, punk-spirited range from last season showed she’s capable of much more.
While she is keeping details of her spring line under wraps, Barrow did confide that it is based on magic — but that it’s “a bit darker than that,” she said.
Expect lean lines, leather and denim “with a twist.”
The Fashion East show is at 1 p.m. on Sept. 17 at the Topshop Show Space.
Manolo Blahnik is no stranger to fashion week — this season alone, he will provide the catwalk shoes for Felder Felder, Osman, Richard Nicoll, Barbara Casasola, Emilia Wickstead and Pearce Fionda — and that’s just the London crowd.
But this season, Blahnik will stage a presentation to showcase what Kristina Blahnik, the designer’s niece and the deputy managing director of the business, calls “an insight into Manolo’s mind.”
Last season, Blahnik provided the illustrated graphics for London Fashion Week branding, which was the impetus for this season’s involvement.
“It was time to do something totally unique,” Kristina Blahnik said. “The international press’ eyes are on London, so it’s a chance for Manolo to present his conceptual ideas and the more dramatic shoes that might not get as much light of day as we’d like.”
The younger Blahnik was mum on details of the presentation, but she said it would be a collaboration with people who “get Manolo,” and feature Blahnik’s obsessions with cultural references, different forms of media, film, music and drawing.
The Manolo Blahnik presentation will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 14.
For Barbara Casasola, dusk is quite possibly the most important part of the day.
“There are certain designers who don’t think past 6 p.m.,” said the designer, who has Italian roots, was born and raised in Brazil and is now based in London. “So far, I’ve been focusing on after 6 p.m. — but I don’t think of it as eveningwear.”
She also believes her Latin background has shaped how she sees women: “sensual, but restrained.”
After three seasons presenting her collection in Paris, Casasola will make her London Fashion Week debut with a runway show at White Cube Gallery in St. James’ on Sept. 15, while Harvey Nichols has the exclusive on her winter 2013 collection, which it will showcase on its first floor, alongside Lanvin and Valentino. Her other retail accounts include Joyce, Luisa via Roma, and the multibrand concept store Symphony Style in Dubai.
Casasola sums up her spring collection in a word — intimacy — and will continue to work with her signature midlength dress shapes fit for post-6 p.m. wardrobes. She’s working with layering, transparencies and fabrics with finishes like satin and cady.
Casasola, who studied fashion in London and Milan and who has worked for brands including Roberto Cavalli and Lanvin, has also been short listed for the 2013 Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize, which will be announced on Oct. 29 in London.
— SAMANTHA CONTI
A ready-to-wear collection from someone who’s known for her bridal collections might not sound like the kind of thing that would float too many boats. But then Charlie Brear wasn’t always a purveyor of frocks to brides.
Brear had been a stylist for 15 years when she was required to source a plethora of vintage wedding dresses for a shoot. When she sold them afterward, she was surprised at how popular they were — and that lightbulb moment led her to found The Vintage Wedding Dress Co.
That company was re-branded as Charlie Brear this year, in time for the launch of her first rtw collection, designed in collaboration with stylist Anna Foster.
The clothes have clear commercial appeal, but that doesn’t undermine the vision and confidence that comes through in a tightly balanced palette of denim blue, buttercup, mink, shell pink and inky navy. Shapes are effortlessly ladylike — and all designed to look as good with heels as with flats.
Among the highlights are full skirts in damask and brocade, a reversible kimono, a clever three-in-one look made of a leather waistcoat and cropped jacket, a shearling vest, a white lace boiler suit and a navy coated-lace pleated skirt.
Gentle sporty touches play off the femininity and add an easy edge.
Charlie Brear will show by appointment on Sept. 16.