It's hard to think of what to wear next summer when it's so cold outside it feels like the gas in my lighter is going to freeze and I'm wearing two pairs of tights EVERYDAY, but on the catwalks in London, New York, Paris and Milan the swimsuits and crop tops were all on display. And light years away from the collections for this season.
In general there seemed to be an overall softening of the trends we experienced for A/W11, as, like clockwork, Spring’s pastel tones hit the catwalk. For the most part the fetish trends which we saw from designers such as Alexander McQueen and Giles were almost completely gone, as was the harsh androgyny that dominated the catwalks of Stella McCartney and Dolce&Gabanna.
Instead, it seems that the fashion world has simultaneously decided that in the period of economic uncertainty, when the world seems to be taking a daily step closer to the abyss of anarchy, what we need is fantasy. Pure, unadulterated, twisted and sometimes erratic fantasy.
Giles gave us one of the most provocative of the A/W11 shows, the models dressed almost as repressed, over sexualised nuns. The result, though not for the faint-hearted, showed an acute awareness of how to flatter and synch with corsets and streamlined tailoring that was both highly sexualised yet feminine. This Spring however, Giles gave us a world completely removed from our own. Tailored day-dresses, suites and flowing gowns all in fabulous metallic passed elegant feathered beauties on the catwalk. What pattern there was abstract and in brilliant contrast to the silver hue of the show. Here, Giles offers us a parallel world of the outer space woman, most notably with his metallic 1950’s inspired day-dresses. ￼
The only reminder of the fierceness of his A/W'11 collection being the majestic (and slightly frightening...but mostly majestic) swan suit...Though the trousers add masculinity to this undoubtably powerful outfit, the choice of a sheer floating material softens the overall tone and it is important to remember that this was also the counterpart to a slightly less harsh (yet slightly less fierce) white swan suit.
Henry Holland, the golden boy of the British in crowd, gave us another brilliant and wearable collection this year with his House of Holland label. His outlandish patterns make his clothes immediately identifiable and every piece seems to radiate youth, even in these pastel colours which can seem to have been repeated every summer for an eternity. His collection, including cloud covered skinny-jeans and A LOT of tartan for me was the most accessible of the shows.
Holland’s fantasy here is in his choice of pattern and fabric, chain-mail, snake-skin and mesh all played a part in the collection. Yet all in such a way that I expect to see identical copies of his chain-mail body-con being sold on the high street before we get anywhere close to summer.
Meadham Kirchhoff, the fashion house of Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff showed another example of elaborate fantasy following on from the A/W11 collection which invoked the Grim fairy tales among others. Their S/S12 show was probably one of the most spectacular pieces of fashion escapism seen on the London catwalk. Ruffles, corsets, chiffon, tulle, fur, embroidery…the list could go on. And it all comes in every colour imaginable almost. More like a performance piece at times, the catwalk was complete with balloons, girls doing their own makeup in their underwear and cancan dancers. Yet despite all this, the whimsy and the fantasy, the collection still managed to bring out perfectly tailored pieces and silhouettes that were youthful and flattering. While this ready-to-wear collection may be a bit more than some of us would be willing to head into your local in, it’s a perfect example of the fantasy the designers have decided to treat us to this summer.
I think one of the biggest surprises from these S/S12 collections was Dolce & Gabbanna. The van-guard of the androgynous look we saw dominating the catwalk of A/W11 spun around and brought out a show of 1950’s throwback crop-tops and day dresses, not unlike what we’ve been seeing on the high street in the past few years. In some senses a little disappointing, after being so individual in their previous collection. Not necessarily a bad collection but slightly lacking in that something that we can usually expect from these two…Although the see-through orange two piece suit was a bit of an attention grabber. That being said, they are beautiful clothes, well structured and executed. Just not quite the escapism we all need these days, but with a collection as vibrant as Meadham and Kirchhoff was there really any room for more fairy tale inspired shenanigans?
And finally, since it wouldn't be the same without it, time for a bit of Alexander McQueen. All I can saw is, Well Fucking Done Sarah Burton. Seriously, with the weight of the genius that was Alexander McQueen on your shoulders and the pressure to create something the man himself would be proud of you'd be forgiven for letting it all get on top of you. But not Ms. Burton. Not only did she design Princess Kate's wedding dress, she also whipped a fabulous collection out of the bag. Not too bad a year at all... It's astounding to think she's only been in charge of the house for three collections and she manages to create such a mature and confident one as this.
Well, I should just some out and say it, if Versace are one of my less favourite designers (as I said in my previous post) Alexander McQueen is definatly one of my favourites. And this did not let me down. Those ruffles. That lace. The bodices. The mesh. The mask-like-things. I loved it all! Seriously good stuff. Kept the girlyness we'd expect from S/S and subverted it as they do so well. Just Lovely.
Anyway, enough from me...go live your own lives or whatever it is you do...