Christopher Kane has proved he is far more than just the latest, over-hyped young British designer.
Last season the 25-year- old moved away from the body-conscious silhouette that made his name with ruffled chiffon creations, and yesterday's confident autumn/winter 2008 collection at London Fashion Week saw a further lightening of his touch.
Loose, flapper-style dresses came in nude, black and white tiers of diaphanous silk, some with disc-shaped sequins in panels on the body and sleeves. An ethereal weightlessness floated throughout, offset occasionally by tougher touches which kept it modern, such as silver-embellished boxy jackets.
Kane's previous collections have had the odd trashy aspects – using neon, leather and ripped denim. Here the main concessions to kitsch were the disc-shaped black, white and iridescent sequins which covered trousers, trimmed chunky knits and dresses, but somehow exuded a muted, grown-up glamour.
Other details included spiral embroidery that recalled the spokes of a bicycle wheel, and small, tightly scrunched and rippled ruffles that resembled Flake chocolate bars made of silk.
Marios Schwab is another hotly tipped designer who became known as part of the recent body-conscious movement along with his confrere Kane, and for this collection he stayed with a figure-hugging silhouette.
However, instead of the short, confident, glamazon dresses of previous collections, he showed long, tight sheaths – some shredded and ripped to reveal flesh coloured, wallpaper-like fabric – that were restrictive rather then liberated.
If Schwab's collection was far from easy to wear, then Betty Jackson's collection begged to be snatched directly off the catwalk. The dresses were a high point – there were loosely fitted styles with sack backs, short organza dresses with diagonal tiered layers in mink brown and dove grey, and strapless prom dresses.
A mixture of neutral, earthy and strong colours prevailed, but they always came in flattering shades; think teal, oatmeal, tan, and soft violet. Knitted caps and tights adorned with jewels, and red sequinned necklaces gave these modern, unfussy clothes a fresh twist.
There was also no shortage of humour, as exemplified by a pair of pants with Henry VIII on the front and one of his wives on the back – possibly a nod to Tudor details such as full sleeves – and by one model who came out carrying two bags.
This might have seemed like a purely tongue-in-cheek nod to the accessory mania that grips the fashion crowd, had a guest at Christopher Kane not been spotted toting not one, but two designer handbags.
Vivienne Westwood gave a further boost to London Fashion Week by calling for other British designers who now show their collections abroad to come back and show their diffusion lines in the capital. Carlo D'Amario, managing director of Vivienne Westwood, said: "I call on John Galliano, Alexander McQueen and Burberry among others to show their younger distribution lines here in London and unite to make London Fashion Week and London not only a centre for creativity but also for business."
Westwood returns to London after an absence of almost a decade to show her A/W 2008 Red Label collection tomorrow.
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