London Fashion Week: Strictly glamour on the catwalk

Rebecca Gonsalves reports from London Fashion Week, where Julien Macdonald, the master of glitz, splashed his dresses with sequins and J W Anderson wrapped his models in gauzy chiffon and embossed leather

Even for those with merely a passing interest in fashion, Julien Macdonald has long been a household name. Thanks to his lines for Debenhams, the Welsh designer has a currency that is set to soar with his appearance as a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing, newly back on the BBC’s Saturday evening schedule. No stranger to glitz, glamour and netting loaded with sequins, Macdonald’s chances of success at the samba or foxtrot are high.

Saturday nights are for dancing for Macdonald’s clientele, too – his cocktail frocks and floor-skimming gowns are loved by wealthy women who prioritise a good party above all else. Yesterday, in the opulent setting of Goldsmiths’ Hall, Macdonald showed a collection with all the hallmarks he has established since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 1996.

Cobweb knits were woven into a multitude of skin-tight silhouettes and encrusted with sequins and beads in shimmering metallic tones of gold and silver. Motifs included the clean lines of Art Deco jewels and Baroque curlicues. Illusion netting was overlaid with rhinestones to form a plunging neckline or backless detail. Much of the collection would not have looked out of place on the Strictly dance floor (although with a few alterations from the wardrobe mistress, as many models tripped along the mirrored catwalk), and co-competitors on the show Abbey Clancy and Vanessa Feltz were in the audience, as were many members of the show’s professional dance corps.

Celebrities and private-jetsetters are Macdonald’s women – and there was plenty on show to outfit them for a life of socialising on board super-yachts.

Front row: J W Anderson fans Alexa Chung and Pixie Geldof

If Macdonald represents a slither of glamour that is rather exotic for the London schedule, J W Anderson is by contrast subversive, not least in the work that his designs referenced. Experimentation with fabric was a key theme – leather and pleather was embossed in large-scale herringbone and waffle patterns, then wrapped and folded around the body into the tunics and wrap skirts that are something of a signature shape for Anderson.

Elasticated bands encircled the body, drawing in gauzy chiffon T-shirts layered over long skirts in a palette that was predominantly grey, black and brown. Sheer squares of fabric were spaghetti-strapped to the body, decorated with folded leather pieces and worn with flap-fronted skirts.

It is always interesting to see what Sister by Sibling, the knitwear label, proposes for spring/summer. This season it will be wrapping women in “Waspish Sunday best” and “upholding the fragile veneer of domestic glamour”. Transported to the Fifties, the twinsets and cardigans were teamed with pencil skirts and A-line dresses in lilac, lemon and pale pink. Skirt suits were black and white or beaded with red zig-zags, and the brand’s signature leopard print was blown up to a large scale and highlighted with neon.

The shows continue tomorrow; the expected highlights are the shows by Vivienne Westwood, Mary Katrantzou and Jonathan Saunders – and the London Fashion Week debut of Manolo Blahnik.