Louise Gray is London’s resident rebel. She’s the poster child for the city’s contemporary punk spirit, and this shone through in her fearless spring 2013 collection. Models with messy, ’90s-tinged bouffants stomped to hip hop house beats in graphic printed shifts, A-line and shirt dresses, and layered separates – like boxy jackets or sweaters – that came in every color of the psychedelic rainbow. Her clothes, often crafted from a mish-mash of materials – like mirrored sequins, thick shiny silks, or delicate chiffons – felt at once handmade and commercial. Drawn-on eyebrows, geometric mirrored earrings, and cartoonish rectangular plastic headpieces with bow cut outs added to Gray’s techno-tribal vibe.
It’s also worth noting that this season, the designer was sponsored by Barbie. Gray subtly incorporated the brand into a series of black and white ensembles (each of which was paired with tights that seemingly melted into chunky-heel houndstooth shoes) with abstracted graffiti versions of the logo. While this could have turned cheesy quickly, Gray’s use of the brand was terribly clever and, in fact, spawned some of the strongest looks in the collection.
Michael van der Ham also turned out a strong collection full of color and texture. This season, the designer’s prints resembled graffiti flowers — soft and dreamy but with a cool, modern edge. His girls wore flattering dresses, often nipped at the waist. Their demure white headbands and boudoir-ready Christian Louboutin heels, shown in electric blue, black, and neutral, were garnished with fur pom-poms and were a playful take on naughty and nice.
Richard Nicoll’s sporty spring outing was clean, crisp, and feminine, featuring grey sweaters, slit tennis skirts, and simple short frocks that looked as though they had been sponge-painted with a shocking turquoise. He repeated the effect in yellow or blue on a series of easy dresses (one of which had a smart, subtle peplum) and summer jackets. The collection closed with punches of orange and yellow neon. Three short frocks with billowing parachute trains (one of which was paired with a windbreaker) were a clever spin on youthful, modern-day glamour.
Over at Burberry, Christopher Bailey fused the brand’s English heritage with a touch of East End cool. His theme, “corsets and capes,” was clear from the first look, which featured a metallic pink bathing suit under a three quarter length white cape. Neon plastic stoles and second skin metallic frocks and jackets in light raspberry, gold, and orange were a mix of Dalston club kid and Mayfair chic, and a printed purple skirt and solid polo shirt, which looked as though they were crafted out of foil, gave off a futuristic disco vibe.
Giles Deacon’s Pegasus-focused collection was all about fantasy. However, while there were indeed some standout looks – particularly a leather corset bodice ball gown whose bubbling skirt was printed with the mythical horse; a few crystal-embellished frocks, one of which was masterfully crafted out of stiff icy blue tulle; and an ostrich feather column gown that looked like a fabulous slinky – Deacon’s spring 2013 collection felt oddly like his spring 2012 collection. We saw the same digital printing technique and the same laser cut leathers, all in a palette that closely mimicked his previous one (though he subbed spring 2012’s red with blue and a fantastic champagne). The collection’s day-appropriate looks, like a short silk skirt and mini dress splashed with the designer’s black and white broken glass print, lacked that special something. And one must ask, what happened to the irreverent, playful Deacon of earlier days? It’s hard to believe that this is the same designer that turned out the famed dinosaur bag. What a shame to think that, just because Deacon is now more seasoned, he’s gone and grown up altogether. However, the stripe-soled satin Tabitha Simmons wedges shown with the collection will undoubtedly be a hot item come spring.
Click on the slide show to see spring/summer 2013 looks from London Fashion Week.
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