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London Fashion Week: instant sales, floaty dresses, plenty of theatre, but no trousers

New York might have gone large on the see-now, buy-now trend but the idea was first mooted by Burberry, when Christopher Bailey announced this year that he would show womens­wear and mens­wear together and that the collections would be available for sale immediately. He tested the proposal with a capsule coat collection sold online a few years ago and with other limited-edition offerings. This season those with fast fingers could tap out their orders online within minutes of the show ending.

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Burberry is not the only British brand doing this. Topshop Unique presented its super-sophisticated new collection last Sunday and key looks were immediately available in the pop-up mar­ket­place at the venue and online. Preen also made a few selected items, including a pretty pink ruffled chiffon dress and a black lace top and skirt from the spellbinding hippie collection, immediately available for purchase on its website. And so did Temperley London, using Vero as its e-commerce platform to sell three key looks from its show.

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Away from the commercial dealings of London Fashion Week the clear message was that modernism and minimalism are passé. Instead, the collections showed spring-summer dresses in all their airy, ruffled femininity. Fabrics were light and sometimes layered with ditsy floral prints under chiffon, and there were plenty of crisp white cottons, organdie and broderie anglaise. Trousers – with the exception of a few cropped styles, some full palazzos – jumpsuits and denim took a back seat.

There were kaleidoscopic patterns in sunset colours at Temperley London and Mary Katrantzou, where for the first time the Greek-born designer claimed her Hellenic heritage by using frieze patterns and Greek urn figures as the starting point for a striking collection.

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Among other fashion-week highlights were Simone Rocha’s enchanting voluminous trench coats and dresses that you would imagine (given the venue was a cathedral) might be worn by those taking first communion. Gareth Pugh told a powerful operatic story inspired by a self-anointed sun god (he designed the collection while also working on costumes for a production of Eliogabalo at Paris’ Opera Garnier).

British accessory brands also displayed a taste for showmanship. Charlotte Olympia staged a 1940s-style musical to flaunt shoes and bags inspired by her favourite fashion era, while Anya Hindmarch created a spiralling pit from which models emerged carrying her desirable bags. New bag designs, such as the Stack, and her summer neo­prene coats in bright pastel hues will be on everyone’s shopping lists.