LONDON MARCHES ON
Fake London: Comic, ironic and iconic, season after season Desiree Mejer churns out the craziest cashmeres. For fall, Fake London and her denim line, Genius, were all revved-up and sexy, playing off one of Mejer’s favorite icons of all, the venerable Union Jack. A gray flannel miniskirt and checked pencil skirt displayed the symbol with tone-on-tone discretion, while a jaunty striped dress was spliced cleverly across the front with the emblem. Other more raucous pieces pushed the envelope, and then some — a grotesquely gaudy faux-gem-encrusted shell top, for example — but, hey, that’s irony for you.
Preen: There is something to be said for identifying a design path and sticking to it — as long as you don’t fall into a rut. The duo of Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi have avoided that trap as they continue to work the vein of heavy-metal, recycled style. For fall, they came up with wide-legged tweed hipsters; checked Viyella blouses with ruffled shoulders; ruched, tie-back tops; fishtail-backed canvas skirts; rabbit-fur stoles and vests; lace looks covered in old keys, buttons and rosary beads, and ruffle-trimmed suede coats. And their look clearly has a certain appeal — the label has been around since 1996, and there’s a Preen shop in London and two in Tokyo.
Eley Kishimoto: Mark Eley and Wakako Kishimoto are known for their prints, which they’ve supplied to such companies as Louis Vuitton, Jil Sander, Alexander McQueen and Hussein Chalayan. But they also do their own line, and for fall, the husband-and-wife team decided to do a series of civilized presentations in the women’s refuge St. Barnabas House. Over tea and cakes, they sent out a mix of the soft and the rough: quilted skirts and dresses in tiny flower prints; chunky Aran knit jackets over corduroy skirts; military-style sweaters; blown-up camouflage print jackets, skirts and dresses, and landscape-print dresses with yoked collars. But if the duo want to establish their own label, they need to hold on to their best prints — many of those they used for fall had already appeared at Vuitton and Chalayan.
Boyd: Tracey Boyd was inspired by Edgar Allen Poe this season with a collection called “Everlasting.” A white stage was filled with three gilt-trimmed armoires, which suddenly opened, becoming doors out of which the models stepped. Among the best looks that emerged: the blanket skirts sprinkled with crystals, white cotton sweatshirts silkscreened with lace patterns, white tulle skirts, cowl-necked knit tops and the Union-Jack print, which was used on bras and panties and as trim on denim jeans and tops.
Ghost: Tanya Sarne has an on-again, off-again relationship with the runway, but her company keeps on going. She returned to the London season again after a two-year absence with a new design team headed by Amy Roberts, a former assistant to John Galliano. Roberts’s collection, inspired by Alice in Wonderland, was one of the company’s strongest in years. Standouts included the quilted corset jackets and pants; the red handknit dress with a butterfly motif; angora sweaters with buttons at the shoulder; wool flannel pajama pants and jackets, along with skirts and dresses embroidered with the Alice slogans “Eat Me” and “Shrink Me.” There were also plenty of Ghost’s signature georgette dresses, which should keep Sarne’s longtime fans more than happy. This collection should definitely give the label a boost as it prepares to launch its second women’s fragrance.
Matthew Williamson: Williamson just can’t hit a streak. The designer will come up with a strong collection one season but then miss the next. That was the case for fall, which was a mishmash said to be inspired by Alice in Wonderland (did he and Sarne talk beforehand?). There were lace net dresses studded with roses, leaf-print tops worn with bloomer-style pants, glitter Empire dresses with knit boleros, pieces in cotton jersey printed with playing cards, knits with trompe l’oeil ties and Jodie Kidd in a white leather maid’s apron Alice wouldn’t have worn in her nightmares. Williamson is clearly a designer of talent — his simple wool coats in bright colors were beautiful, as were his fish-scale sequinned dresses and skirts. But part of talent is consistency, and that he hasn’t arrived at yet.