Stylish, wearable clothes which do not demand a model's body or a film star's lifestyle: that was what several designers delivered at London Fashion Week yesterday. British labels Betty Jackson and Richard Nicoll showed a luxe utility look for autumn and winter 2010, using practical or sports-inspired pieces in the finest fabrics.
British designer Betty Jackson is known for her fluid shapes and her latest silhouettes were suitably easy. Dresses came in simple shirt or tunic styles, trousers were subtle takes on the harem look, while skirts were mainly knee length and draped, softly pencil shaped or A-line.
Jackson, who launched her first collection in 1981 and was appointed MBE in 1987, is also adept at combining colour, pattern and texture, and the gentle glamour in her latest show came from the choice of materials. Workwear or military-inspired pieces were rendered in both cosy and sophisticated fabrics, so roomy trench coats came in traditional grey wool, as well as gold Lurex, while tapered trousers appeared in plush jumbo cord as well as gold lamé.
Another British designer, Richard Nicoll, came from a similarly understated, functional perspective, saying that he wanted to "convey a louche ease and spontaneity that is authentic and relevant to everyday life". Feted for his tailoring, Nicoll's starting point was his own wardrobe, which he deconstructed and made into women's clothes. The result was a sleek, fresh and modern collection. Traditional grey flannel was transformed with a lightness of touch, as tapered grey trousers were teamed with a top made from half a waistcoat and half a checked bustier top; a grey jumpsuit came with military pockets and a mini dress was made to resemble a suit. While Betty Jackson chose rustic clogs and peasant scarves as her workwear-inspired accessories, the jewelled Bulldog clips adorning lapels in Nicoll's show evoked an urban office.
However, Matthew Williamson, who showed later in the day, doesn't seem like a man who dwells on the nine-to-five lifestyle. The designer's clothes are often influenced by his travels to the more exotic climes favoured by his jet-setting clientele, and this season he said: "I was inspired by Spain, particularly Pedro Almodovar's use of colour and costume." The Spanish influence was clearest in a short matador-style jacket worn with slim trousers, and embellished cape coats. With Twiggy, Sienna Miller and the model Yasmin Le Bon in the front row, he showed a collection of skinny leather trousers, silk harem pants, flared, frilled or cape coats, and Grecian mini and maxi dresses. These came in autumnal colours such as plum, olive, ochre and aubergine with flashes of purple, royal blue, silver, salmon and – of course – Williamson's beloved hot pink.
Last night, Vivienne Westwood used her Red Label show as an opportunity to raise awareness of the planet's destruction. Amidst signature frock and blanket coats, checked harem trousers, and clingy jersey dresses, she showed knee socks with the word Chaos on them, and an apron bearing the phrase 'Loyalty 2 Gaia' in a reference to James Lovelock's theory. Others wore a T-shirt Westwood has designed to support pregnant women and new mothers in Haiti, in collaboration with Naomi Campbell who was in the audience.