LONDON CHECKS OUT
THE LONDON SHOWS CLOSED WITH EVOLUTIONS OF BURBERRY PRORSUM’S MINIMALISM AND SOPHIA KOKOSALAKI’S GRECIAN-INSPIRED STYLES.
Burberry Prorsum: Burberry chief executive Rose Marie Bravo knows only too well from her days at Saks Fifth Avenue that every fashion eventually fades. So the Prorsum designer line by the company’s creative director Roberto Menichetti is Burberry’s in-house think tank to develop its next hot looks and its future classics.
“For me, this is the most important one to give our sensibility for women,” Menichetti said the day before the company’s Friday morning showroom presentation. “It’s trying to find something comfortable and feminine.”
Menichetti dropped most of the tricks he’s toyed with in the past and homed in on clean lines, sportiness and innovative materials, such as a blend of carbon, silk and spandex, and spider-web-fine knits in stretch mohair and wool. The standouts remained his leathers — slim trenchcoats, belted motocross jackets, shirtjackets and long skirts.
Other hits were the shaved shearling vests and reversible coats, cashmere and stretch felt minis and the Prorsum jodphurs: a cross between horse-riding and motocross pants. He also insured that there’s still plenty of life in the famed Burberry check by relaunching the original version in oversized jackets, cropped vests and skirts.
Not everyone liked the collection, and there were missteps, of course: the elastic belt sewn inside jackets needs refinement and the focus on just gray, navy and cream became monotonous. Then, too, now that he has established a path for Prorsum, Menichetti needs to widen it by adding some sexiness and fun. But the designer is the first to admit that the line is a work in progress.
“Prorsum is very important for the company, because it cannot think just about today, but also about the future,” he said. “We are trying to develop a way for women to dress that’s modern, elegant, sporty and sensual.”
Bravo said after the presentation that Menichetti’s sensibility is central to the new Burberry, especially as it heads toward an initial public offering in the next 18 months. And clearly he’s a designer others watch: His motocross styles have been aped worldwide, and he’s led the leather trend.
But that shouldn’t come as a surprise. In a season when many designers seem lost as to which direction fashion should take next, Menichetti is among those pushing it forward into the future.
Sophia Kokosalaki: Over last season’s high-drama drapery? Then you haven’t seen Sophia Kokosalaki’s latest collection yet. She was at the forefront of the Grecian movement, a look the Greek native has been working for four seasons now, but for fall she rejiggered it and sent out draping that looked fresh all over again. Her new approach is an aggressive one. Voluminous jersey dresses in black and in screaming red — which were severely sexy — plunged, swung and fell just so, some inset with leather banding and others festooned with strips of quietly industrial hook and eye tape.
But a subtle militancy of the uniformed sort also wended its way through the collection. There was a navy wool sailor’s top paired with slim pants tucked into mean-looking boots and a whimsical harness made from army belts, bits of tulle and leather straps shown over a clean, white turtleneck.
If it all sounds tricky, it wasn’t. Throughout, Kokosalaki maintained an even-handedness and a delicacy that is all her own. As she has already learned, subtlety has its virtues.
Martin Kidman: Kidman is known for his quirky style and his knits. But for fall, he seems to have got lost in the Eighties trend seen last season, with a collection right out of the “Wall Street” era. There were pinstriped power suits, tops embroidered with the word “Yuppie,” plaid pants and skirts and mohair-and-metallic coats. His sweaters with trompe l’oeil views of the New York skyline were cute, but the rest of the collection seemed about five months too late.
Markus Lupfer: It can be dangerous holding a show in a breathtaking setting, because the collection has to match the scenery. Lupfer collected everyone together in a pavilion at the awe-inspiring space of the Lords Cricket Ground, and unfortunately didn’t score a wicket (for all you fans of the sport out there). Sure, black leather pants, velvet skirts and wool jackets are important parts of any woman’s wardrobe, but why buy them from him when they’re less expensive at Ellen Tracy?