Kane and Farhi’s upbeat designs lighten the gloom

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It’s impossible not to feel enthusiastic about British fashion after seeing a Christopher Kane show. The Scottish designer, who unveiled his latest autumn/winter collection at London Fashion Week yesterday, has been feted from the moment he graduated in 2006 and consistently lives up to his hype.

Dresses formed the core of the show, featuring different takes on a line and stripe motif. Slim, above-the-knee dresses in cream silk were adorned with dark strips of fabric, while a black-edged cream skirt was teamed with a shoulder-padded checked jumper. Also featured were bodiced, body-con dresses with blocks and strips of tulle and velvet arranged in patterns that evoked art deco, while stripes of jewel-coloured velvet decorated shift dresses.

Despite the recession, Kane was upbeat, saying: “Women appreciate clothes that they can invest in now, and we are actually doing really well.”

Kane’s spring/summer collection recently sold out within 24 hours on the popular website Net a Porter, showing that there is a strong appetite amongst consumers for exciting new designs.

Kane wasn’t the only designer with a positive outlook. Established London Fashion Week names Betty Jackson and Nicole Farhi both showed collections that also defied the economic gloom. Jackson described her show as “optimistic, with colour and print”.

It began with full skirts and wrapped jackets in an indisputably cheerful, powder-blue mohair. Having experienced previous downturns, Jackson knows how to weather this one – by sticking to her signature aesthetic. There were several examples of the shapes and silhouettes she made her own in the 1980s. Sack dresses came in black, mustard, swirled green and black, and tobacco brown, loose harem trousers in a spotty pattern that reflected Jackson’s playful streak and big shoulders were a recurring detail.

Nicole Farhi’s collection, shown in the Royal Opera House, also featured strong shoulders for clothes based on 1940s-style silhouettes that had a seductive look.

Farhi said the collection “became more sexy because the emphasis is on the shoulder, so we wanted the body to be slimmer.” She described the show as, “energetic, colourful and positive”. Slinky pencil dresses and skirts came in magenta, red, pea green and iridescent prints, while the designer’s signature tailoring also came with a twist courtesy of trousers covered in multicoloured sequins, and leather jackets in bronze and silver leather.

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