Harriet Walker: Fantasy sex – as well as the normal variety – is reflected in London shows

Fashion statement

SEX. Now that I’ve got your attention, let’s talk about what happened at the London shows last week.

It was rude and wibbly, shiny and wipe-clean. Sex was present in every carnation from Torture Garden-style fetishgear to the more harmlessly bouncy stuff of Seventies Confessions... films.

Let’s face it, black vinyl isn’t for everyone – even when cut into familiar and practical peacoats at Meadham Kirchhoff, or verging-on-the-girlish circle skirts at Topshop Unique. There’s something singularly moist about it, and there’s a severity to it that makes everyone wearing it look like a pervert even when they’re not. You might think you’re channelling Catwoman but you’re more likely to be wiping condensation out from inside your sleeves.

No, far more accessible – though no less fruity – was the sort of sex that was sold more simply. The sort of sex that relates to the sex people actually have. Soft and delicate curvatures on dress and skirts that fell to billowing and fluid A-lines and dirndls and created a softly feminine silhouette at the likes of House of Holland, and skirts slit to the thigh at Preen. Sheer transparent layers of silk and shimmering mirror beads cast over naked bodies at Marios Schwab, but more romantic than raunchy.  Jersey dresses with cut-outs at Vivienne Westwood’s Red Label, where one model even carried a secretarially sexy clipboard.

At Richard Nicoll, sex was understated but still there in menswear elements rubbing up against baby pink silken dresses. This collection was, as Nicoll later explained, how he would want to dress if he were a woman. Saucy – and perfect for next season.

Much was made too of Jonathan Saunders’ decision to cast models with plenty up-front in his collection of full-skirts, corsets and bustier dresses. He told me afterwards that it had caused a little awkwardness initially at fittings, but by the time the show rolled round, he and his team of dressers were cramming in boobs all over the shop and having a whale of a time.

Now, doesn’t that sound more fun that sweating alone in a black plastic coat?

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