Miuccia Prada, Karl Lagerfeld and Céline’s Phoebe Philo really started something when they sent out their art-splashed spring/summer collections.
Designers in London clearly caught the art bug for autumn. First there was Jean Pierre Braganza, whose silk tops, jackets and dresses bore the work of the post-Caravaggio artist Artemisia Gentileschi. John Rocha expressed his affinity for French abstract artist Pierre Soulages (dubbed “the painter of black”) with black organza ruffles, crochet knits and chiffon corsages.
At Temperley London, Alice blended Art Nouveau floral prints and Byzantine mosaic patterns with beautifully intricate results. At Issa London, new creative director Blue Farrier paid homage to an arty, bohemian relative with 1970s-style interior prints on dramatic shawls. Perhaps most sensationally, recently-appointed Burberry CEO Christopher Bailey sent impressionistically-painted wrap dresses down his star-lined catwalk.
London designers cemented last season’s repositioning of metallic as a daytime fabric this week. Foil brocades, silk lamé and gilded jacquards will all have caught the magpie eyes of savvy buyers.
Erdem’s shimmering gold A-line dresses with high, Elizabethan-inspired collars and cut-outs were beautiful examples of this trend, as were his gold-silk Oriental inspired coat-dresses, sparkling burgundy suits and the metallic ankle-strap flats he created in collaboration with shoe maverick Nicholas Kirkwood. Post-Antonio Berardi, a glittering peppermint trouser-suit was all anyone could talk about and his glistening grape-purple separates got their fair share of coveting reviews.
Henry Holland’s disco-ball lit “Rich Bitch” logo sweatshirts and bomber jackets shimmered against metallic leathers, aqua foil pencil-skirts and jogging bottoms. At Preen by Thornton Bregazzi there were military-green metallic windcheaters and cinched shirt-dresses.
Luxury sportswear looks set to stay around for another season, with designers adding athletic touches to day and even evening wear. Inspired by extreme sports, Peter Pilotto really went all-in on this trend.
The look was glam après-ski, with fur-trimmed Airtex sweaters, skinny polo necks, mountaintop prints, funnel-neck coats and crest-detailed dresses. Those seeking to try this trend may want to invest in a good winter coat, as sporty little upper-midriff baring tops, neoprene mesh and colourful arm-warmers were spotted at Mark Fast, Topshop Unique and Osman.
At Tom Ford, the designer had some fun with this trend by reimagining as an evening gown the football jersey Jay-Z wears when performing his single ‘Tom Ford’. At Ashish, the shimmery platform trainers under prom dresses will have pleased Lily Allen.
On the tougher end of the spectrum, quilted leather biker gear and clumpy boots were seen at Giles (where model Edie Campbell wore a white leather motorcycle suit) and in particular at Zoe Jordan, where the entire collection was inspired by “the enthusiasm of the boy racer”.
Romantic sheer fabrics, ribbons, lace and ruffles were present in unseasonal abundance at this week’s shows but the look was not all hearts and flowers. Meadham Kirchhoff styled their ribbon-detailed Elizabethan nighties with big bouclé jackets and disco-striped combat boots or clumpy loafers.
Marios Schwab’s exposed lace bras and filmy, chiffon dresses were toughened up by dog-collar chokers, masculine-tailored blazers and leather miniskirts.
Ruffled pockets, shoulders and cuffs made a cute statement at Simone Rocha but the yellow python and fiery tartan that she fashioned them from made stronger ones. Christopher Kane’s outstanding collection boasted powder-pink, spiral-sleeved pencil dresses and rectangular mini-dresses.
London designers showed the Parisian petits mains aren’t the only ones that can make us go weak for embroidery and technical detail. Roksanda Ilincic made the biggest splash with this trend, heaping shards of colourful plastic on strapless skirts and dresses.
Michael van der Ham’s beautiful veiled-organza dresses were embroidered with hundreds of Swarovski crystals. Mary Katrantzou made a major departure from her signature complex prints this week by turning her hand to surface detail: embroidery, digitally woven lace and custom-loomed brocades and jacquards. Her garments are still hypnotically detailed but now tangibly so.
Orla Kiely kept her legions of fans happy this season with her embroidered cat motifs, 1960s-style flowers and puppy and kitty face purses. Even her shoe collaboration with Clarks resulted in pretty flower and stem details on her chunky-heeled Mary Janes.
Anya Hindmarch got playful with the crafty trend by pulling ideas from her kitchen cupboard. Her soft leather bags were fashioned as cereal and washing-up powder boxes with tin-can tassels, crisp-packet cross-body bags and barcode totes.
Anyone keen to keep their outerwear on-trend next season should invest in some fur, even if it is just a faux trim. From the sporty beige “teddy bear” faux-fur gilet at Christopher Raeburn to glamorous 1970s boleros at Matthew Williamson and “Swinging London” extravagance at Tom Ford, fur coats were big news on the London catwalks.
They needn’t resemble any pelt found in nature, either. Osman Yousefzada’s full-length, cobalt blue effort and Fyodor Golan’s crimson gilet showed how much fun cold-weather wear can be. Topshop Unique ensures the high street gets an early start on this look with faux-fur shouldered cape coats and patchwork fur vests. If you prefer to limit fur to accessories, Simone Rocha’s long, fluffy mittens are seriously fashion-forward.