Fashion: The raw and the buffed

Variety was the key at London Fashion Week. Young designers got the attention, but big names held their own.

Last week's London collections were nothing if not diverse - from the young designer Robert Cary-Williams's second collection, a low-budget, raw-edged affair held in a tiny venue, to Burberrys' first appearance on the London catwalk - a super-slick, super- expensive show more reminiscent of the Milan runways than anything normally associated with our fashion capital.

The clothes themselves were equally disparate. Cary-Williams's designs are ripped, torn and tattered, romantic but deconstructed, and aimed at a fashion- literate and probably very small clientele. But Burberrys', now designed by Roberto Menichetti from the Jil Sander stable, was polished from start to finish, if in a highly derivative manner. Blink and you might have missed the odd flash of Burberrys check. Without it, this was, well, Jil Sander to tell the truth, from the luxury hi-tech fabrics to the three-buttoned jackets pulled very-slightly-too-tightly across the top of the chest. What the Burberrys customer is likely to make of it remains to be seen.

The two most accomplished shows of the week represented very different aesthetics, courtesy of Hussein Chalayan (hot tip for this year's British Designer of the Year) and Alexander McQueen.

For his show, Chalayan returned to his preoccupation with flight. The first outfit out, in gleaming white metal, had a red, flashing light at its hem and a panel that dropped down like the wings of a plane coming in to land. This was Chalayan's most sophisticated offering to date, apparently minimal but increasingly complex the closer you looked: fabric moulded into shape by intricate webs of seams; a crescent cut out of the back of a dress to reveal layer upon layer of the fabric that has constructed its perfectly pure silhouette.

McQueen follows a rather more dramatic and high-impact route. His larger- than-life snowstorm was filled with his most unashamedly pretty collection to date and will go down in fashion history as one of the most brilliantly imaginative, brilliantly orchestrated and brilliantly beautiful shows to be seen in London.

Much is made - quite rightly - of Britain's bright young design talent. The Jerwood prize-winner Shelley Fox took us to the East End for a quietly beautiful, conceptual collection; Markus Lupfer, formerly a design assistant at Clements Ribeiro, offered up a more obviously glamorous, highly coloured and cutely idiosyncratic debut. Both are names to watch. Tristan Webber's show this time round exercised rather more restraint than it has done in the past: a more controlled colour palette suited his accomplished cutting techniques far better. Matthew Williamson, too, continues to pull in the crowds. As a colourist he is unrivalled in London, and his hot pinks and reds contrasting with more neutral hues won't disappoint. It's all very west London; the requisite pashmina, for example, was here transformed into a skirt.

Clements Ribeiro, too, will attract this type of customer, although the clothes are more complex. Tailoring looked super-chic: low-slung but still sharp. Devore sheath dresses were lovely, as was black tulle appliqued with gold roses and worn over white, paying more than lip-service to the vintage good looks beloved of London girls, but with a modern feel.

The knitwear supremo Julien Macdonald held back from turning women into the proverbial Christmas tree this season, and the result was good to see. Joe Casely-Hayford turned out soft shapes in pretty colours, with a raw edge that looked very of-the-moment; dresses and skirts with the texture of teddy bears were adorable.

Sonja Nuttall, another great hope for the future, went down the arts- and-crafts route that is emerging as one of next autumn/ winter's major trends. Crochet knits, applique, multi-tiered frills and bold prints were all suitably upbeat, complementing perfectly a largely pared-down silhouette. Here, as on other runways, burnt orange reigned supreme.

While our younger designers continue to attract the most attention, other more established names remain a force to be reckoned with. Nicole Farhi and Betty Jackson both sent out easy, relaxed clothes in super-soft fabrics that looked a pleasure to wear. Farhi's emerald velvet was especially desirable - velvet also cropped up on the catwalks of Elspeth Gibson and Clements Ribeiro - and Jackson's subdued but lovely colour palette (sage green, smoky blue, deep red and dusty rose), subtle textures and fluid silhouette were good to see.

Jasper Conran's collection was more minimal that it has been - very cool in soft leather, matt jersey and heavy satin. Also a first was a pretty new neckline: a wide funnel that stood away from the skin, giving the illusion of slenderness and length.

Paul Smith, showing his womenswear in London for only the third time, is looking increasingly confident. Argyll knits, masculine trouser suits and tulip-shaped shift dresses were particularly appealing, put together in that very English way that Smith understands well; models looked like kooky aristocrats strolling round the Basil Street Hotel.

Tanya Sarne's Ghost label continues to go from strength to strength. The collection, inspired, as last season, by Victoriana, looked less overtly pretty and more modern, without ever losing the signature style known and loved by women the world over.

Finally, the Japanese designer Kosuke Tsumura continues to honour us with his presence - it was great to see his soft-shouldered silhouette.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor