1. Simone Rocha is blooming… and harnessing femininity
Simone Rocha had a lot to smile about this London Fashion Week. The 29-year-old Dublin native recently opened her first boutique in a prime Mayfair location.
She is expecting her first child in November and has just managed to deliver one of her most accomplished collections to date for Spring/Summer 2016.
There is bondage involved but not of the 50 Shades variety. Her harnesses are made from plastic cording and woven into tulle bodices.
There were rope motifs peppered throughout, criss-crossed and references to Nobuyoshi Araki, a Japanese artist long-fascinated with Kinbaku-bi (“the beauty of tight binding”).
Any hint of misogynyis quickly dispelled by the overwhelming femininity of the clothes overall.
In the show notes, Rocha wrote she “saw a bride in a bamboo forest” while researching, and there are several delicate white dresses, open-backed gowns, and puff-sleeved pink tulle confections to suit a spring wedding.
The bow and ribbon counts are high.
Diamante-studded jelly shoes, lace-up sandals and her signature brogues continue her quiet but adorable opposition to vertiginous footwear.
She’s expanded her typical pink, white, and black palette to include khaki mini-dresses with huge patch-pocked and spongy tobacco trousers (also detailed in plastic).
Prints include blown-up images of cars and flowers by the photographer Jacob Lillis.
Elsewhere, wallpaper-style florals are actually reworked from vintage Japanese fabrics for very wearable tunic dresses.
While it would be difficult for the fast-fashion crowd to emulate Rocha’s exquisite material and craftsmanship, it is hard not to hope there’ll be some channeling.
2. Time to get graphic
Do you dare wear giant horizontal stripes? What if they were printed on a tote-version of an Eveready battery?
Handbag queen Anya Hindmarch mined the high street for inspiration this season, exaggerating and repeating familiar logos until they looked like graphic prints.
Chain stores like Boots, WH Smith and Carrefour all look distinctly chic-er on bags and boots, but the real draw are the kaleidoscopic prints they leant to Hindmarch’s increasingly popular clothing collection.
The Nationwide Bank house is expanded across leather bomber jackets and unitards. Horizontal stripes across bodysuits and scarves are easily identified as the John Lewis department store motif.
Even Mothercare’s distinctive blue-on-white ‘M’ runs hypnotically across t-shirts and sweaters. This is truly the most bizarre mix of luxury and high street I’ve seen since Karl Lagerfeld created a Chanel supermarket in March of last year.
LFW favourite Roksanda Ilincic took a graphic approach to both prints and silhouettes for spring. Full-length skirts covered with powder blue and geometric shapes were paired with triangle-cut tops.
Cut-outs at the hips of two dresses look as though they’ve been snipped and stitches around protractors.
The slim-cut jumpsuit (a garment we’ll be seeing a lot of next season) bears a selection of multi-sized horizontal bands.
3. Latin American details are hot for spring
It has been a while since we’ve seen some Latin spirit at London Fashion Week but designers are definitely feeling it for next season.
Markus Lupfer served margaritas and spicy appetisers the morning of his show, which was inspired by the deserts of Mexico.
Clean A-line cut skirts and tops played canvas to the flora and fauna of dry climates, with cacti printed or woven graphically in sheer fil coupe.
Richly-coloured desert flowers are embroidered on a sheer organza bomber where rustling 3D sequin embellishments resemble a blooming wasteland. This is further echoed in Lupfer’s flat sandals and plimsolls.
Temperley London’s spring offering pays homage to Havana. Her lightweight yet intricately embroidered summer dresses have needlework inspired by the gorgeous colours in photographer Robert Polidori’s images of the city.
There are traditional belted cotton dress; a silky halter-necked number with parrot print and plenty of Panama hats and espadrilles.
Osman Yousefzada was inspired by a love letter Frida Kahlo wrote to Diego Rivera and devoted his entire collection to the irrepressible artist.
Most noticeably, he recreated her painting Tree of Life in the beading of the yellow column dress that closed his show.
The grey tree that sprouts through the bodice ends in a tangle of red roots at the hem. Other references are more minimalistic but still distinctly Frida.
Flamenco-worthy tiered mini-dresses; a belted kimono wrap with matching full skirt, and gaucho-esque belts with long-collared, long-cuffed white shirts hint at her blending of masculine and feminine styles.
4. Lattice and lace are sexier than see-through
After a summer of red-carpet dressed so sheer they’re really un-dresses, it was refreshing to see so many designers moving towards more subtle means of showing skin.
Lace was a feature of most collections but the delicate fabrics were usually tiered, intricate, or opaque enough to stay classy.
Smart black lace suits at Felder Felder, an orange lace trench at Christopher Kane and Peter Pilotto’s chantilly sweaters show the trend doesn’t have to look froufrou.
5. Knots are the new belts and buckles
Knotting or tying fabrics — whether at the waist, shoulders, wrists, or neckline — will be the most stylish means of securing your clothing next season.
Large corset-style or high-waist belts should be packed away with your winter jumpers.
At John Pierre Braganza, high-waist trousers were cinched with kimono ties instead of belts.
Slim-cut Topshop Unique dresses are knotted casually at the collarbone.
Dublin designer Danielle Romeril’s collection, entitled “Paradise Lost,” drew inspiration from images of African farmers in their work attire by Boston photographer Jackie Nickerson.
“They wore Western clothes but knotted and tied them in a manner reminiscent of traditional tribal dress,” she told me in advance of the show.
Stand-out pieces included a verdant-coloured trench in cutwork cotton layered over muslin with ties where you’d traditionally see more military detailing.
Showpiece dresses were knotted and gathered in flattering spots and often formed from hand-cut thermoplastic film mounted on silk organza or embroidered with the legend “Paradise Lost”.
6. Tone your upper torso
Blame it on a certain media phenomenon and her chic husband/stylist, but the upper torso is the spot to expose next spring.
Contemporary US designers like Alexander Wang and Jonathan Simkhai have been clued into this look for a while, but even formal wear was exposing a slice of skin at London Fashion Week.
7. Everything’s falling to pieces
Patching pieces of fabric together or leaving them looking stressed, torn, and frayed was a recurring theme among a number of London’s most established designers this week.
Scottish designer Christopher Kane based a collection around the concept of “crash and repair”.
Entire looks were fashioned from scraps of colourful fabric and plastic (one of next season’s most popular materials), right down to the shoes.
Silk strips of a dress trailed down a model’s leg as though it had been through a shredder.
Reminiscent of some of his earliest designs, Kane used a palette of neon brights. Maybe these clothes hinted at the make-and-do spirit required in a dystopic future but they certainly look like a lot of fun.
8. Accessorise like the 80s
After the all-pervasive influence of 70s fashion for autumn, it was fun to see lots of quirky 80s accessories on the catwalks.
Weighty Pat Butcher-style earrings with great clusters of cubic zirconia or plastic flowers were on show at Topshop Unique and Simone Rocha, and skinny PVC chokers cropped up at Christopher Kane.
With Topshop Unique being a bellwether for fast-fashion trends to come, we can also expect to see plenty of marabou feathers on stilettos, clutches and stoles.
Square-toed, skinny-heeled ankle boots were a frequent presence at shows like JW Anderson and Christopher Kane. Bumbags were worn as crop-tops at MM6 Maison Margiela.
Boxy shoulder-bags, in plastic or leather, appeared at several shows including DAKS and Orla Kiely. The latter also showcased the most apparent hair-accessory trend for spring: thick headbands in candy colours.
9. Get ruffled up
If lace is just a bit too impractical for your taste then ruffles are the SS16 detail for you. This trim was seen at just as many shows as chantilly and guipure bits this season.
JW Anderson made a point of exaggerating his pale apricot and monochrome ruffles almost as much as his giant leg-of-mutton sleeves.
While Erdem kept his silky and light, Mary Katrantzou went with heavy Spanish layers, iridescent with matelasse.
The delicate, tiny yellow frills on Peter Pilotto’s fitted sweaters are worth considering for next Easter Sunday.