The final day of women's collections at London Fashion Week yesterday saw designers rejecting the nostalgically British styles on show over the weekend in favour of something altogether more brash. "It was about fun and nightlife," Benjamin Kirchhoff, one half of acclaimed duo Meadham Kirchhoff, said after their show. "Our references were glam rock."
So much was evident in colourful feather and tinsel coats, striped lurex tights and a tartan dress cut low at the front to expose a sequinned turquoise bustier. There was a suit made from multi-coloured paillettes banded in waves and scarlet trousers decorated with gold brocade, while models sporting towering bleached beehives threw streamers and glitter.
But in among the references to outré performance artist Leigh Bowery were eminently wearable pieces – knitwear emblazoned with smiling fanged hearts and chubby rainbows; panelled chiffon babydoll dresses edged with black lace; and superbly tailored trousers in Rupert the Bear yellow check – which will no doubt go on to sell well. These were proof that beyond all the delightfully lurid excess, the duo has a grown-up attitude.
Meanwhile Mary Katrantzou, who started Fashion Week with the news that her collection for Topshop had sold out, consolidated her credentials with a collaboration with the French atelier Lesage, the artisanal embroiderers to Paris couturiers.
Its handiwork came in ornate beading atop Katrantzou's provocative prints. Spoons, typewriters and even pencil erasers were digitally rendered on corseted dresses that spoke of highly complex pattern-cutting. Elsewhere, panniers and yokes bristled with beading that gave grass and maze prints a 3D astroturf effect. One skirt was embellished with hundreds of pencils, wittily brought to life from the earlier printed versions. It was a collection that fans will love, but Katrantzou seems wedded to the sort of overly constructed silhouette that most have moved on from.
Roksanda Ilincic's aesthetic has more to do with fluidity, toughened up with sportswear references that came in the shape of cord ties and hoods on silk tops finished with the ribbed cuffs and hem of a Varsity baseball jacket. Worn with full A-line circle skirts, they suggested a relaxed but vintage sort of elegance, consolidated by Ilincic's trademark evening gowns – a simple navy silk column dress stood out, draped with a contrasting panel of aquamarine.
Other highlights included Danish designer Peter Jensen's paeon to his friend, the milliner Thelma Speirs. Taking her as his muse, he showed a collection of almost twee separates subverted with unexpected colours and prints.
To celebrate the end of the womenswear shows, editors, designers and industry figureheads gathered at 10 Downing Street last night, where American Vogue editor Anna Wintour thanked Topshop's Philip Green for providing a decade of financial support for young designers as part of the NEWGEN scheme.
Today marks the end of London Fashion Week with a timetable dedicated to the capital's menswear designers. Gucci, meanwhile, kicks off the Milan schedule at lunchtime.