Alice, giant toadstools and Mr Fox turn Fashion Week into a literary wonderland
Some of Britain's brightest and most bankable names took to the catwalk yesterday as London Fashion Week continued with collections from Dame Vivienne Westwood, Mulberry and Matthew Williamson.
Daisy Lowe appeared on the catwalk for Westwood, watched from the front row by her boyfriend, Matt Smith (aka Doctor Who) as well as long-term fans of the label, Boris Becker and Jo Wood.
The designer's devoted cohort of followers, fashion editors and punks crammed into the Royal Courts of Justice to watch make-up smeared models in cottage industry-esque tapestry knits, pin-tucked shirts and skirts, and black velvet knickerbockers, topped off with wooly tartan crowns.
Westwood's message was one of sustainability, using an Alice in Wonderland motif to highlight the importance of natural, British materials.
Earlier, at a packed show attended by the supermodels Twiggy and Alexa Chung, Matthew Williamson showed his trademark tribal knits and Aztec prints on mini dresses and raffia-trimmed coats, paired with bright wool slacks and motocross trousers.
As befits a schedule of such globally conspicuous names, yesterday also saw the arrival of the senior American press, including Anna Wintour of US Vogue and Vanity Fair's Elizabeth Saltzman. With all the emerging heritage trends and talk of the royal wedding, they were no doubt taken with the odes to a pastoral English idyll that many designers led with.
Mulberry, famed for its handbags, presented an extensive collection inspired by Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr Fox and featuring countrified outerwear and prim Land Girl dresses which might be found in the wardrobes of the more glamorous wives of Boggis, Bunce or Bean.
The ballroom at Claridges had been transformed for the show with foliage, and stuffed birds, while guests were welcomed by giant inflatable toadstools, somewhat incongruous on the windy, grey pavements. Back inside were quilted trenchcoats, naive duffle jackets in elephant cord, and military-style crombie overcoats, all in a forester's palette of mole, khaki and conker brown. Detailing referenced some of the label's most successful handbags, such as the big-selling Alexa satchel, with coats and satchels sharing similar fastenings, and wide-brimmed knee-high boots echoing shoulder bags in rich oaky tan hides.
Topshop Unique took as its inspiration a similar era but picked out more progressively urban and modernist elements, such as the art deco cityscapes of the Thirties and Forties.
Mid-length A-line skirts were worn with feminine blouses printed with dogs and nostalgic motorcars, recalling the likes of Betty Grable and Lana Turner. But the high street brand was careful not to alienate its younger, more trend-led audience; models in Dalmatian print faux fur coats and skirt suits exited to a soundtrack of Disney's Cruella de Vil and were made up with whimsical doggy noses.
There was also thoroughly modern pinstripe suiting with girlish sailor capes and soignee lounge dresses with chunky faux fur cuffs. Sheer organza shift dresses were decorated with images of the Brooklyn Bridge and New York skyline, in a nod perhaps to Topshop's growing status in the US, but also to the Great Depression, an era much referenced so far this season.
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