Ever since John Galliano’s departure from Dior in March last year, the fashion industry has been playing its own game of ‘designer ping – pong’ bouncing names back and forth in speculation as to who will take the creative reigns of the Parisian couture house. Jacobs – Tisci – Ackermann – Jacobs – Simons – Kane – Ackermann – Simons… It went on.
However after a year-long debate the rumours were finally put to rest yesterday as LVMH CEO, Bernard Arnault, announced that Raf Simons will take over as Artistic Director. Having left his previous post as Creative Director at Jil Sander earlier this year, Simons will commence work at his new design home with immediate effect, preparing for what will be his first Dior collection, which will be showcased at Couture Fashion Week in Paris this July.
London Fashion Week A/W12 stood apart from other seasons in asserting the city’s place firmly within the fashion week calendar. Not just because of the brilliant creativity that the fashion world has come to expect, but because of the strength of the homegrown brands on show.
From big names such as Burberry and McQ to the young guns like Mary Katrantzou, Simone Rocha and Christopher Kane, whose collections just keep getting better, London proved that it can be a commercial contender, without losing it’s edge.
Showing a glimpse into her evening collection pre Paris Fashion Week, Stella did it in a way that obliterated the catwalk show and turned it into immersive theatre. The unwitting stage was a fashion fabulous dinner. Models, Amber Valletta, Shalom Harlow and Yasmin Le Bon confounded guests by erupting halfway through into a choreographed dance sequence of jaw-dropping craziness. The clothes, a tight collection of optical dresses, painterly cocktail numbers and tailoring, were shown as they should be, in the moment, working the party.
Mary Katrantzou’s collection was sheer artistry, from the trompe l’oeil prints of verdant maze gardens and clackety typewriters that drew the eye deep into the design, to the origami ruffles that fluttered off of collars and hems.
This was print done with structure and tailoring the Katrantzou way. As well as being brilliantly inventive, they were also eminently wearable, and are assured of a wide following.
Christopher Kane’s show only further confirmed his eye-opening ability to draw on references and ideas like no other and make them fashion must haves.
There was gangster goth pinstripe skirt-suits and dresses alongside elegant chiffon dresses with applique black velvet flowers. The palette was darkly purple, black and royal blue and leopard print was done in the Kane way, injecting the print with a freshness that has tarnished over recent seasons. This was tough, feminine and most obviously from London.
At Meadham Kirchoff the look was acidic with tribal crayon makeup and Seventies funky heels in silver, pink and gold glitter.
With the catwalk turned into a disco this was a larger than life collection of lamé, sequins, tinsel, fuzzy snakes and most importantly fun. But hidden amongst it all were the kind of separates sure to add zing to any wardrobe.
At a salon presentation hosted by Colin McDowell at the Corinthia Hotel, Elliot Atkinson showed a collection inspired by medieval aristoracy wrought in modern urbanity. A palette of black, white and mustard was tailored to create a silhouette that was slim, fierce and undeniably elegant.
With a week’s worth of womenswear and menswear shows kicking off today, a new crop of fresh design talents will be making their London Fashion Week mark.
For this season, expect to see the collections of David Koma, Holly Fulton, J.JS Lee, J.W. Anderson, Michael van der Ham and Simone Rocha on the runway, as well as Christopher Raeburn, Thomas Tait, Nasir Mazhar, Sister by Sibling, Huishan Zhang, James Long, Lucas Nascimento, Tim Soar and Palmer//Harding presenting their unique designs in installations and exhibitions.
Helping them flourish in the fashion capital is the British Fashion Council’s NEWGEN initiative, founded in 1993 and sponsored by Topshop. The scheme offers young creatives a platform to showcase their designs at Somerset House, as well as offering financial and business support.
With past recipients including Alexander McQueen, Matthew Williamson, Christopher Kane, Mary Katrantzou and Meadham Kirchhoff, the future is looking more than bright for this next generation of fashion talent. After all, there’s nothing like a new kid on the block to shake things up.