It's all-out fashion war on the catwalks of London

The battle between high street and high-end played out at London Fashion Week, with John Rocha and Mulberry vying for catwalk dominance against Whistles, Topshop Unique, and Rihanna for River Island, reports the Irish Examiner's Annmarie O’Connor.

John Rocha proved his technical nous in a collection inspired by the winter bright landscapes of Wicklow and the palettes in the work of Gary Hulme.

Pea green, fluro pink, and flame red added a third dimension to trapeze and bell silhouettes crafted in rugged felts, tweed, mohair, latex glazed lace, and Rocha’s signature georgettes and chiffons.

Oversized, cape, and waist-cinched coats made for proportionally playful outerwear; while tailored jumpsuits and long-sleeve dresses spoke of quiet austerity.

The frock proved the ultimate scene-stealer, with a floral embellished bell dress, styled with a tulle draped headdress and patent Mary Jane wedges, winning over a packed house.

Mulberry consolidated its kingpin status with a playfully practical collection. Emma Hill’s creative directorship stayed true to the brand ethos of merging the countryside with city cool, a feat not lost on its legions of fans.

Traditional English check reinterpreted in oversized knits and a wow-worthy sequin ‘Soft Bell’ dress will no doubt be on the wish list of every fashion editor next season.

Still trending is fashion’s love affair with layering. This time expect skater skirts teamed with capri pants and overcoats.

Without a doubt, Rihanna’s debut line for River Island proved the hottest ticket in town, with a celebrity headcount including supermodels Tyson Beckford and Cara Delevigne, and Strictly Come Dancing champ Louis Smith.

The R&B singer’s 90s girly grunge edge proved a fitting match for the collaboration and the brand’s increasingly youth market appeal.

Satin dresses, jersey skirts, and dresses with dangerously thigh-high splits, tensile twill parkas, crop tops, T-shirts, fine gauge knits, jumpsuits, varsity jackets, barely there sandals, ankle boots, rucksacks, and snapback caps comprise the spring/ summer collection.

Key details include T-shirt and dress knotting and Rihanna’s relaxed shirt-tied waist signature.

The collection hits the shops from Mar 5 with prices from €25.

Another fashion week first was the presence of Whistles on the schedule. The mid-market brand has experienced a timely renaissance under the creative vision of former Topshop titan Jane Shepherdson.

For autumn/winter ’13, the offering is modern and sleek with utility overtones and subtle naval influences. Think cable and waffle knit sweaters paired with polished leather skirts; streamlined shifts embossed with moc croc, louche cocoon coats, and a London It Girl essential — the leather sweatshirt.

Over at the Tate Modern, Topshop Unique threw down a stylish gauntlet to a star-studded crowd including Pixie Geldof, Olivia Palermo, and fashion blogger ‘The Sartorialist’.

The 90s remained the star era, this time with a Brit Pop twist as models Cara Delevingne and Jourdan Dunn led the catwalk cavalcade in styles that referenced “real England”.

Opposites attracted as matte was paired with gloss, shimmering sequins offset with fuzzy textures, and raw edges placed beside bonded fabrics.

Prints, based on traditional British carpets and Victorian pub wallpapers, were digitised, super-sized, and fused onto knits and bonded cloths.

Silhouettes held similar larger-than-life status, as did clutches, chain handle bags, and heeled snake print panelled Chelsea boots. A dissonant take on a decade compared to Rihanna for River Island; perhaps one geared towards a slightly older demographic.

From young guns to big guns, Peter Pilotto, Erdem, and Christopher Kane take to the tents today. It’s an all-out fashion war.

Westwood keeps characteristic flair

Fashion Week regulars Peaches Geldof and Jodie Kidd sang the praises of Vivienne Westwood’s Red Label collection after another spectacular show.

“I thought it was brilliant and I just loved the combination of the colours, the tights, the clothes, the shoes, the bags, the tailoring,” said Kidd.

“I just wanted absolutely every single piece, which is very rare for me. I just loved this collection. I thought it was fabulous.”

The statuesque blonde said while it may have been less dramatic than the Westwood designs of previous years, the flair was still there and that it was important to remember the evolving nature of fashion.

“There were bits in there — you know, like the sequinned pants. But, you know, when I used to do Vivienne it used to be boobs and great big dresses and things like that.

“But, you know, fashion moves, it evolves. Designers have to go with it and I think she’s really nailed it.”

Before the show, Geldof said she was expecting it to be “slightly mental”, but said that is “the charm of Westwood”.

She said of Westwood’s style: “It’s really haphazard and sort of all over the place, which I think is what Vivienne’s mindset is like, and I really like that the clothes are such a reflection of her and her personality, and it’s really playful and fun.”

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

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