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London Fashion Week

Designers used London Fashion Week as a chance to cement their handwriting for spring 09.

Traditionally known as the most creative of the Big Four, London Fashion Week again proved its original mettle for spring 09, with many designers choosing to shun the big trends spotted out in New York, and instead stick with personality-led collections.

Although this reluctance to jump on the trend bandwagon may appear to translate as a fear of trying anything too new in the current economic climate, the inventive stories and humour seen throughout the London collections suggested it was more a desire by designers, particularly the younger crop of Brits, to cement their handwriting.

Christopher Kane was one of those keen to underline his signature style for spring 09. The oversized sequin embellishment he championed last season was realised as semi-circular coloured discs for spring, almost dinosaur-like as they appeared in mustard yellow on leather skirts and in white and black organza on trouser suits. Further animal references came through on gorilla print vests and marabou trimmed shifts.

Giles again showed anything goes when it comes to cultural references – the decapitated Bambi print splashed on white satin prom dresses last season was replaced with Swarovski-encrusted skeletons and Pac-man characters on a similar gown for spring, alongside coloured army print, plastic-coated pencil skirts and bright wool day dresses.

PPQ echoed this colourful approach with plenty of sugary sherbet shades on matador-inspired boleros, A-line skirts, and button down jumpsuits, while Aquascutum preferred to adopt a more solemn palette with rich navy hues and splashes of electric blue on its collection of silk sports luxe coats and floral brocade dresses.

Sports luxe and embellishment were two of the trends London designers did unify on. Betty Jackson showed parachute silk drawstring jackets in bright colours alongside a set of softly sculpted blouses and kaftan dresses, while Margaret Howell paired sheeny jackets in technical fabrics with stripey leotards and leather trenchcoats, dirndl skirted dresses and sheer shirt dresses. On the embellishment front, Nathan Jenden encrusted waistcoats with gold leaf, Louise Goldin covered skintight futuristic catsuits in Swarovski gems and Modernist used Baroque appliqué on necklines of sheer organza tops.

Prints were busier and more intricate for spring 09 in a bid to keep interest, but florals still held court as the favourite. Basso & Brooke went to town with multihued Japanese prints all over satin trouser suits and on paint splashed dresses, Henry Holland teamed polka dots with flower prints on flirty playsuits, Erdem showed English garden scenes on cropped jackets and floor skimming maxis, and creative director for Ossie Clark Avsh Alom Gur printed petals and ferns on a nude silk all in one.

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