Before London Fashion Week, there is a tipping point where anticipation meets anxiety: the fear that I will have no tickets to any of the shows, despite working hard all season on some killer shoots for some great magazines; and then the universal fashion editor’s fear that I have nothing to wear, despite having numerous wardrobes at home literally spilling open with clothes and shoes on a daily basis.
To off-set the first, the postman’s daily deliveries of a multitude of colourful envelopes displaced any nervousness I might have had; while two timely phone calls- one to the lovely Sara at RMG And Co, the PR for The House of Worth, the other to Lizzie from Mishka Vintage – meant without even dipping into the nether regions of my wardrobes (yes, wardrobes!) other than for some key accessories, I was able to sport some amazing clothes for the endless list of shows and events. As with every season, the gaggle of bloggers and assault course of photographers which meet you when you try to walk, without stumbling, across the cobblestones at Somerset House expands into an army of camera lenses, feeling like you are dressed for the day is ever more important. From a Bill Gibb brown leather coat with silver bee embroidery, so rare that at the Issa show, Zandra Rhodes begged me to donate it to her Fashion Museum, a fantastically chic black lace Worth coat and Peter Pan collared chiffon dress, perfect for a deeply chic fashion party, to a retro double act of a Bus Stop striped suit, teamed with a YSL coat so contemporary in its shape with its raised shoulders and slim cut that I wish Hedi Slimane had seen it for inspiration for this season. Like Cinderella camera-ready for the ball, I felt not only show-appropriate, but allowing myself some fun at the stylist’s best game of all, that of dressing up….
Vauxhall Fashion Scout is hosted at the Freemason’s Hall, a location filled with the best interior styling in London, that often I wonder how the shows will surpass this symbolised vision of stars, pentangles and stained glass. Portia from Pop PR hosts several of her shows there, and it was here I dashed uphill in Gina peep-toed heeled boots from Somerset House (no mean feat, awful pun!), for a selection of shows. One highlight was by newcomer to London, Turkish designer Zeynep Tosun: Elizabethan style leather ruffs, pattern embossed over knee boots, which matched the embroidered sleeves on a slouchy biker jacket, jet beads on black velvet teamed with the sheerest chiffon, fluted pencil skirts and wide legged trousers, all served in a palette of autumnal reds, yellows, browns, black and white. This was a confident collection from a London newcomer and one I feel certain we will hear more from very soon.
London Fashion Week is a fantastic opportunity to catch up with fellow fashion editors: sitting next to me at the Temperley show held in the Dorchester Ballroom was the lovely Tiffany Fraser Steele, whom I interned for at Tatler, and is now Senior Fashion Editor at Marie Claire. The collection was a cool customer of chic, inspired by Hitchcock’s leading lady Tippi Hedren. From a white swing coat, falling open over a chevron patterned black dress, teamed with soft black leather gloves, to Swarovski embellished collars, worn with polo-necked dresses and accessorised with white driving gloves, this was a collection perfect for cocktail hour and off-duty starlets. Bernard Chandran’s show had a similarly Hitchcock sensibility, styled by my friend Karen Binns, with Kim Novak as this show’s ice blonde heroine. Handbags were tightly taut to the elbow, while block coloured satin silhouettes were teamed with matching coloured polo-necked balaclavas (a trend in the making), topped with Oriental-style hats.
At the Osman show, I was seated next to the lovely Virginia, whose collection of vintage gorgeousness has been used by many designers as an inspiration for their collections. Her shop’s basement is an ode to Miss Havisham: visions of the palest pastel chiffon and lace, from virginal white Victorian underwear to delicate deco bias-cut dresses. These vintage clothes are a tutorial in craftsmanship, worthy of any fashion show. The Osman show was softer and somehow sexier than I have seen from him in previous collections. The dropped 90s style sleeve (a strong trend for all the collections) was in evidence: from a short-sleeved grey coat, teamed with brocade trousers and draped blouse, to an assymetrical hemmed gilt-hued dress, or an embroidered cream and gold cape. The coherent palette of winter whites, iridescent metallics and soft tones flowing into a strong black finale felt confident and is certain to sell well.
Roksanda Ilincic designed my wedding dress and very lucky I was too to wear something so fabulously fairy tale designed by a woman who wears her own designs, and therefore knows just where to place a zip or a pleat, to make her customer look as beautiful with as little fuss as possible. It sounds simple, but given the amount of complex designs out there, I can tell you that sadly it isn’t. Roksanda showed at the Savoy Ballroom, conveniently located close to Somerset House, but rather than a simple catwalk, has the feel of a latter-day couture show, with it’s Tiffany blue and gold walls and mirrored panels. For the show however, it was subverted with carpeted walls in pinks and pastels, designed by Gary Card, to hint at the colours in the collection. Pinks and greys were off-set by orange and lurid green. Roksanda is known for her clever colour combinations and this season didn’t disappoint. If the carpets and wood hinted at 70s suburbia, there was a subversion at the centre of this collection, with maroon woollen dresses and wide pleated skirts, teamed with black PVC T-shirts and sports jackets.
While Paul Smith’s evening show was hosted at Tate Britain, a 70s referenced collection of stylish separates, Meadham Kirchhoff’s show was held at The Tate Modern. I walked over from Somerset House across the river with stylist Sasa Thomann, admiring the view and chatting about the season. We entered the Topshop show space to Ravel’s Bolero, which lead me into daydreams of Torville and Dean. I was expecting therefore something dreamy, light and fit for ice-skaters. Whilst their signature, fast-paced, over-all-too-quickly show took each of us by surprise, it was as much for this season’s commercialism as for the beauty of the collection. Gone were the witches and puppets, the painted dolls and raver goddesses; in their place was a subversive take on Marc Jacob’s 60s monochrome SS13 world, with Chanel-style jackets, a PVC apron central panel over a double-breasted white coat and my personal favourite, a black velvet long dress with white chiffon collar and hem of patterned white lace, perfect for the Russian blogger star, oligarch’s wife and fashion big-spender Ulyana Sergeenko in its poetic romance.
My last London show of the season was Ziad Ghanem, which Sasha Lilic urged Tara St Hill and I to come with him to see, after enjoying the beautifully mature collection by Maria Grachvogel (that lady knows how to drape!), and the last-day-on-earth-so-let’s-enjoy-it eccentricity of the Ashish show, styled by my ex-assistant and bridesmaid Anna Trevelyan. Ziad Ghanem clearly has cult and underground in his very DNA; the make-up alone was fantastic: a vision of colour and drama, inspired by transvestites and 50s glamour. The models were a celebration of quirky casting – tattooed, curvaceous drag queens: each one a different, divergent sense of beauty and all cheered along by the buoyant crowd. From a canary yellow cat bowed blouse, worn with a slim cut African printed bold back split skirt, to a lilac taffeta wide-hipped skirt, worn with a poppy embroidered hand-painted blouse and 70s style turban, this was a happy collection, which the audience adored. When the finale came with a soundtrack of Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, the crowd clapped along smiling, not a fashion pout amongst them.
To see more of Tamara’s work, visit www.tamaracincik.com