Leading designers have unveiled their statement looks for next season. Here’s our report from the front row at London Fashion Week
In a whirlwind five days of high fashion, high heels and high drama, London Fashion Week secured the city’s position as one of the most exciting style capitals in the world.
Showcasing upcoming autumn/winter 13 collections, this February proved to be a bit of a blockbuster season.
Victoria Beckham jetted in to judge the International Woolmark Prize alongside Donatella Versace and Diane von Furstenberg; celebrity designer Tom Ford staged his womenswear catwalk for the first time in London, and Rihanna created a buzz with her debut fashion collection for River Island.
Long-established brand heavyweights such as Burberry, Mulberry and Vivienne Westwood strutted the catwalk, but so did edgier designer darlings like Christopher Kane, Mary Katrantzou and Erdem.
It’s exactly this eclectic mix that puts London head and shoulders above New York, Milan and Paris. Now, take your seat for a whistle-stop tour of the catwalk action.
Photographers went wild for Tom Ford’s front row VIPs... Newlyweds Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel took time out from Hollywood red carpets for the designer’s womenswear London debut. The dapper couple declared the collection “phenomenal - the beading was beautiful and the gowns were amazing!”
Stand by to see Biel working one of Ford’s glamorous floor-length dresses, made for paparazzi flash bulbs.
MODEL OF THE MOMENT
Stand aside Kate Moss, there’s a new British supermodel in town. Crowned ‘model of the year’ at the 2012 British Fashion Awards, Cara Delevingne lived up to her title, strutting her stuff at eight major London Fashion Week shows.
Best pal, singer Rita Ora, even sported a ‘Queen Delevingne’ T-shirt for the 20-year-old’s appearance at Burberry.
Defined by her caterpillar eyebrows, the hottest property in planet fashion is set to become a household name. Watch this face.
THE FASHION POOCH
Well-groomed, he has the most unique runway walk... Max the model poodle made a waggy-tailed turn on Mulberry’s catwalk. He delighted catwalk guests, including brand ambassadors Lana del Ray and Alexa Chung.
Max made two appearances. trotting out in a heritage check coat and fetching yellow butterfly print that co-ordinated with the model’s trousers. The pedigree pooch must have felt right at home roaming around Mulberry’s rural English landscape theme.
What to wear when the entire fashion industry’s eyes are focused on you?
US Vogue editor Anna Wintour plumped for a statement Prada white daisy appliqué black coat. Style’s equivalent of royalty made her first appearance on Day Three of London Fashion Week, bringing some flower power to the occasion with a matching dress. Twitter went bonkers and a flurry of fashion editors pulled the same coat out of the closet to wear the very next day.
THE NEW RECRUIT
Forget autumn/winter 13. Rihanna leap-frogged the normal route to becoming a fashion designer and showed off a collection launching this March for River Island.
In a dark, warehouse-style venue, the singer threw a huge party for the fashion pack on the Saturday night. There was no impromptu gig; she didn’t even model her designs on a catwalk. Instead RiRi selected a simple black dress from the line and took to the catwalk podium to take a bow.
A 3pm afternoon show didn’t stop Julien Macdonald putting on a razzle-dazzle ’em fashion fanfare, watched by girl band The Saturdays.
After a one-year hiatus from the Fashion Week calendar, the designer came back with a bang to showcase his Viva Las Vegas collection, christening each look with names like Black Jack, Casino Royale and Lady Luck.
He piled on the showgirl glamour, with sequins, rhinestones, feathers and tassels galore shimmying down the catwalk, culminating in gold confetti showering the audience for the finale.
It was a belated Valentine’s special from Burberry Prorsum with the heartfelt Trench Kisses collection. Heart motifs made their cheeky entrance in the form of big panties peeking from sheer latex coats and skirts, before appearing again printed on the brand’s trademark trenches.
The fashion love-in continued with evening wear dresses featuring statement heart metal embellishment. Chief creative officer Christopher Bailey brought the show to a close, serenading his captive audience with a live performance by musician Tom Odell.
There are some trends that never date: monochrome, animal print and girly pink. Moschino Cheap & Chic took all three themes and reinvented them with a modern, punky twist. There was a dash of rebellion with bold graffiti, oversized silhouettes and statement question mark motifs. But being an Italian label, this was a Milanese style of polished punk.
Models’ shoes were stompy but the heels were mirrored - so handy for reapplications of the statement black lipstick.
Christopher Kane extensive 60-look collection was the work of a design genius.
His show began with tough, coloured camouflage and finished with glam multi-coloured beaded panelling. In between, Kane enthralled with cut-out gothic velvet, appliquéed 3D blooms, feather-trim fancies and those symbolic statement bright brain scan motifs.
The Matthew Williamson girl practically has a one-way ticket around the world, she’s so well-travelled.
This season the designer sent his English rose packing to the Northern Lights, bypassing his trademark floaty boho Ibiza silhouettes for clean lines and structured shapes. The location inspiration still allowed for lots of opulent colour with multi-coloured blanket wools and digitally printed snowscapes featuring acid green-lit skies.
Following a sequence of sequinned evening gowns in pewter and sulphur yellow, a catwalk snowstorm completed the dreamy Royal Opera House scene.
Jasper Conran painted the catwalk red, quite literally, with a lacquered runway to showcase his eye-popping collection of brights. Sixties icon Mia Farrow may have been the muse for the silhouette but this was all about colour with the designer clashing together a fiery palette of hot pinks, reds, oranges and yellows.
And the accessory for autumn/winter 13? Many of the models peeked out from beneath bell-shaped, soft cloche hats in similarly bright shades that battled for attention with their bold lipstick.
Less colour, more monochrome for Mary Katrantzou.
The queen of prints turned her focus to pattern with intricate knits, embroideries, jacquards and brocades engineered to resemble landscapes and shadowy vistas. Even lace was woven to mimic a latticed bridge design on a tailored suit.
For evening wear, the shapes became more exaggerated, featuring black and white digital prints of bleak winter scenes on billowing, flowing organza.