A hint of spring in the autumn collections as London Fashion Week draws to a close at Tate Modern

Designs by the Meadham Kirchhoff duo of delicate pastels and sheer layers reflect a trend for lightness seen repeatedly this week
  • @R_Gonsalves

The last day of London Fashion Week drew to a close among the hustle and bustle of Tate Modern, as the designs of Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff took to their now regular afternoon slot in that gallery's Turbine Hall.

The Meadham Kirchhoff duo had fitted out the catwalk with something of an installation - as is their way - with heart shaped arches through which their models would promenade. Gold tinsel curtains added something of the circus to proceedings, a sentiment echoed by the clown faces appliqued on to granny-chic frame handbags. The clothes too had a feel of 17-going-on-70 about them: bourgeois boucle jackets in black, lavender and a pale mint green were matched with skirts of varying lengths. Some were un-lined, on others the printed lining matched the sheer shirt with which it was teamed. Frothily feminine layers of chiffon, metallic leather and python, velvet, boucle wool, pinafores and bibs have become signatures of the duo, complete with an edge that if not sinister is certainly unnerving and intriguing. Delicate pastels and sheer layers are not traditional bedfellows for the autumn/winter season. It reflected a trend for lightness seen repeatedly this week.

As autumn collections can start dropping as early as July and August, perhaps those designers are attempting to meet the weather half-way and redefine what has become a somewhat out-of-kilter system.

That's not to say there weren't garments more usually associated with chillier months on display. Today Simone Rocha opened her show with black coats with dropped shoulders and sleeves frothing with ruffles and shot through with gold and pearls thanks to signature trimming. Rocha works well with the body and this season, simple shapes were ruffled and trimmed or slashed and weighted to allow a glimpse of flesh in a way that was at once prim and perverse.  

Ashley Williams of Fashion East has a firm following too. Her cartoonish vibe and pop-culture references were pared down this season, demonstrating a sense of maturity as a designer and businesswoman, although the collections remained reassuringly playful with cats playfully posed on vibrant yellow and suede horse silhouettes, with fringing for manes, on leather separates. Leather bonnets and stiffly oversized overalls were a modernist take on pastoral staples.

The progression of designers through Fashion East is interesting to witness - starting with raw materials (and multiple raw edges as shown by Williams' colleagues Hannah Lawrence and Louise Alsop) the designers learn how to approach the commercial side without completely quenching their creativity. On Wednesday, the fashion road show will move on to Milan - a city where commerce is king - luckily the last day of London provided a final shot in the arm to see them through.