Just on the tail of fall New York Fashion Week, London’s own week of couture ended last Thursday. Some up-and-comers, like Jonathan Saunders, have fled for the States while others show in Milan, but London hasn’t lacked star power. And it’s not lacking any absurdity, either. From tartan antlers at House of Holland to goat-hair circle skirts at Gareth Pugh, real clothes took a back seat to theatricality in England.
When Klymaxx dropped Biba’s name in the group’s 1984 hit “The Men All Pause,” they may not have had these recent looks in mind. Biba’s collection payed plenty of homage to ’80s power dressing, but a sharply angled shoulder apparently wasn’t enough for designer Bella Freud. Most models sported dark fezzes that awkwardly echoed the shape of the garments.
Unbridled volume has been a key theme for the last few seasons. But now as designers are moving back to more feminine silhouettes, someone should tell Armand Basi that the referent is the hourglass, not the lava lamp.
Runway walking expert and America’s Next Top Model superstar J. Alexander (Miss J) can’t emphasize the importance of posture enough. So models at the Basso & Brooke show would have made him proud: The designers suited models with tumorous, egg-shaped headdresses to balance on their heads, accompanying the already-bizarre patterns and shapes of their collection.
The Rainbow Fish made its fashion week debut at the Christopher Kane show, where models sported garments littered with scaly, oversized sequins. The effect was a look like a pearlescent disco ball, probably with its noise to match.
Meanwhile, the mother ship landed at the Gareth Pugh show, where painted-up models showed futuristic and often times furry ensembles. The absurdity began with a blouse and circle skirt seemingly made from rubber floor mats. Then it was full steam ahead through furry boxing gloves, pointy martian-like hats, alluring origami coats done in leather, and one male model’s goat-hair bolero, which extended his shoulders a good six inches from his frame. Somehow, though, the clothes could not detract from the ghostly faces of the models, who were painted white and given primary blue accents.
More pompom coats from Giles Deacon, but this time it’s more about the texture of a Chia Pet than focused on a silhouette. The more remarkable feat here was a pink number that somehow managed to make model Lily Donaldson look like she has hips.
House of Holland pretty much summed up its importance to the fashion world last year when Henry Holland showed shirts that shouted “ONE-TRICK PONY.” His other T-shirts — the ones that featured cheeky, rhyming phrases about fashion icons — were ripped off by everyone from Teen Vogue to Urban Outfitters. Maybe he should have just stuck to what he knows best, given that he closed his fashion week show with model Agyness Deyn (surprise!) wearing a J.Crew-does-Pirates of the Caribbean tartan eye patch. And plaid antlers.
Betsey Johnson’s collection came back to haunt me in the form of Luella Bartley’s show, where models were styled with crimped, frazzled-looking hair. As if she was predicting her own criticism, the show opened with a look topped off with a witch’s hat.