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Maturity — it’s not what you automatically think of when discussing London fashion, but our best fashion talents are growing up. They have been through the rebellious and experimental teenage phase and are now doing adult things such as opening shops (Christopher Kane and Roksanda Ilincic) and signing to big international brands (JW Anderson at the LVMH brand Loewe). As the London fashion corps munched chicken balls at a Downing Street reception, there was a tipsy sense of pride when Samantha Cameron announced that the British fashion industry had grown from £21bn in 2009 to £26bn this year.
What gives London fashion its edge? Clothes that are interesting yet wearable. That’s what appeals to a broad global audience bored with homogeneous brands and hungry for new things. JW Anderson’s time in Paris working for Loewe is clearly rubbing off. “My collection was an ode to playful French femininity, which is highly inspired by Jacques Tati,” he said before the show. The models wore huge, floppy sunhats in kinky black leather with beautifully cut button-back sailor pants, short skirt suits and rain macs with exaggerated rounded lapels. Anderson said the biggest lesson he had learnt from working with the luxury giant, which has invested in his own label, was “never compromise”. He certainly didn’t on style. Elegant and accomplished, these were clothes for women with refined taste.
Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of American Vogue, clapped enthusiastically from the front row. He acknowledged her mentorship, saying: “Anna is very good because she’s blunt. She tells you how things are and gives you advice that is raw and real.” There was nothing raw about this collection. It was as polished as they come.
Polished, too, was Christopher Kane, whose company was bought by the luxury giant Kering last year. “It’s always good to have a point of view to stand out,” he said at his show, which was dedicated to the late Louise Wilson, the influential professor at Central Saint Martins, and based on ideas he had found in old college notebooks. Kane is known for making eye-catching clothes with strong motifs. Here, twisted rope patterns coiled down fluted dresses, and the designer described giant metal staples, which fixed swags of fabric onto skirts and dresses, as “that Christopher Kane thing. We are good at our components, our ingredients,” before breaking off to greet Dakota Johnson, the elegant Fifty Shades of Gray star who was being shown around fashion week by American Vogue.
Mary Katrantzou showed her best collection to date. Based on the movement of tectonic plates, lavishly embellished panels of fabric collided to create something that looked new. Erdem, too, had a great season, producing an exquisite collection of lace and appliqué dresses that managed to be delicate and edgy at the same time (a combination peculiar to London).
Some things never change. Kate Moss and Cara Delevingne dashed past the paps to their seats on the front row at the Burberry show, which started promptly at 1pm. It was streamed live to a global audience, and viewers could buy the colourful trenches, sheer party dresses and shrunken denim jackets via Twitter — a fashion first. In that moment, all eyes were on London.
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