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London Fashion Week: From Thomas Tait to Gareth Pugh

By Vivian Hendriksz


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Fashion |REVIEW

The collision of dates that brought the start of London Fashion Week and Chinese New Year apparently failed to garner everyone's attention in the industry this season, with Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief at Vogue, choosing to skip the event all together in lieu of attending the Oscars 87th edition in Los Angeles.

However, despite the editor's slight snub, the event drew over 5,000 visitors to the country's capital, who came from far and wide to see both the UK's local talent as well international talent gracing London's catwalks. With over 250 designers showing their Autumn/Winter 2015 collections, including labels such as Burberry Prorsum, Vivienne Westwood Red Label, J.W. Anderson, Paul Smith, Julien Macdonald, David Koma, Mary Katrantzou and Jonathan Saunders, London Fashion Week surely left it's mark this season.

Unlike it's sleek counterpart overseas, London Fashion Week started off last Friday on a more sombre note, with Victoria Beckham, Kanye West and leading British fashion industry members paying their respects and tributes to the late Louise Wilson at a memorial ceremony hosted in St Paul's Cathedral. Some of her former students, who are now recognized as top London Fashion Week designers, including the likes of Christopher Kane, Simone Rocha and Roksanda Illinic spoke at the service.

One of the most anticipated shows of the season was that of Gareth Pugh, the avant-garde designer best known for his conceptual designs which have been described as 'wearable sculptured.' The British designer usually presents his collection in Paris, but decided to return to his homeland in honor of his eponymous label's 10th anniversary.

LFW is "kind of a big deal" for Gareth Pugh

"It's kind of a big deal for us, it's exciting and terrifying at the same time," said Pugh in an interview with the Independent on his homecoming. "It feels celebratory, but there is a weird expectation – it's a challenge but it's good to be scared sometimes." During his show on Saturday, models graced the runway dressed from head to toe in black, wearing gowns with leather bond breastplates, military styled-jackets and battle worthy headpieces with faces painted white and bearing the red cross from the flag of England's patron Saint George.

His return was welcomed by the fashion industry, "There's been nothing like this since (Alexander) McQueen," said veteran fashion journalist Hilary Alexander to AFP after the show. "It was very powerful; I thought it was fabulous." Another highly anticipated label to present its collection during London Fashion Week was British heritage label Mulberry, who tapped Johnny Coca, former Céline designer, as its new creative director last November. Although Coca does not officially take up his new post at Mulberry until July, the collection is the first to show since his appointment was announced. The new it-bag to come from the brand was the Roxette, a structured handbag available in curly sheepskin or croc-printed leather.

The first shows to open London Fashion Week were from South-Korean designers, J. Js Lee and Eudon Choi, with Choi presenting a collection built around strong outerwear that included leather jackets pairs with geometrical forms inspired by the Japanese architectural movement Metabolism. They were followed by Jean-Pierre Braganza, who combined layering and graphic symmetry to create a collection fit for "a modern incarnation of an exciting film noir vixen and wartime heroin," according to the designer himself. Newcomer to London Fashion Week, Molly Goddard showed her collection at the BFC courtyard show space, which was based around her image of the ideal ballgown paired with 70s inspired felt trousers and corduroy pants.

1960s and 1970s vibe felt throughout the catwalks of LFW

On Saturday Orla Kiely presented a collection created around her feelings of nostalgia to the past. The 70s seemed to also be a big source of inspiration for designers showing at London Fashion Week, but Kiely's collection was centered on the most sophisticated palettes and cuts of the era, showing colorful twin office sets, pastels capes and cashmere sweaters paired with frilly collared blouses. Emilia Wickstead, whose designs are reportedly favoured by the Duchess of Cambridge, catwalk show was one of the first of the week to lure in large numbers of buyers and press. Presenting retro-style wool jumpsuits and flared dresses with a cinched in waist for the day and sharply tailored evening wear that showed hint of cleavage, the collection was praised for its wearability as well as its overall appeal.

Julien Macdonald, who present his collection after Wickstead, appeared to have found his inspiration in the polar opposite juxtaposition to Wickstead. His autumn/winter 2015 range featured his usual sexy and glamorous looks, with touch of romanticism meets gothic. Jewel-toned dresses with black mesh underlay, fringed mini dresses with and black gowns with fishnet panels were well received. "I saw the crown jewels and I loved the amethysts, the diamonds, the sapphires, the emeralds," said Macdonald backstage to the Telegraph on the inspiration for his collection. "I thought, what an amazing place we live in, with a queen who wears these jewels. This show was a celebration of her: a very strong, very modern woman. This is what women want to wear today."

Jonathan Anderson looks to the 1980s for his inspiration

Taking a step forward from the 1970s and into the 1980s, Jonathan Anderson found his inspiration in the music and artists of the decade. "It was a bit wrong but I think that was one of the most exciting moments in fashion and we have a stigma against it," he said to the Guardian on his feelings towards the 80s, with focus on changes under going in Berlin and Soviet countries before 1989. "We were looking at places where they weren't able to express themselves. I like this idea that you had to find your freedom, put your stamp on something. You put the look together and that’s the character you are, in that room. Great clothes are about being creative." The collection echoed his creativity, from the leather skirts to the vivid ruched boots and knitted tunics belted at the waist.

On Sunday, Margaret Howell channelled a 60s vibe which favoured warmer tones and natural fabrics which were transformed into turtle necked sweaters, cable knit tops which were layers over white shirts and tapered trousers, cinched in at the waist. David Koma presented a collection which was created with his label's ideal customer in mind. Combing nude fabrics with black leather over mesh or sheer paneling offered a more sophisticated yet sexy look, with detailing placed on sleeves and skirt edges. Vivid orange lace was also paired with nude fabrics in subtle way alongside blue leather used to craft a A-line mod inspired skirt and haltered dress.

Topshop Unique continued the week with its 1960s and 1970s themed collection, which featured an array of pinafore dresses, high-waisted corduroy jeans and overalls as well as leather mini skirts paired with faux fur lined duffle coats and roll-neck knit sweaters. Leading the way for technical innovation, the high street label teamed up with social media platform Twitter to analyse real-time data coming in through the social media platform to identify trends as they emerge.

Paul Smith: "This is about lovely quality and fabulous fabric"

Paul Smith shied away from focusing on a dominant theme in his women's ready-to-wear autumn/winter '15 collection. "There's not a strong theme. Sometimes you do them and they work and sometimes they don't. This is about lovely quality and fabulous fabric," he explained to Vogue, focusing rather on making a more wearable collection, with emphasis on loose and slick silhouettes, oversized plaid patterns and bulky, yet elegant outerwear. "It's all just very wearable, things that you can add to your own wardrobe."

Eco-fashion champion, Vivienne Westwood used her show to raise awareness for Prince Charles' green charitable causes, with her show notes urging the audience to 'Vote Green.' "At the moment we are controlled by the 1 percent of the world population who are in power. They preach consumption, and they preach war, and they're taking us into disaster," warned Westwood. "We are in incredible danger. She [Westwood’s girl] is going to vote Green." The collection reflected a mixture of influences translated into a tiger printed overcoat,bold tartan jackets, a black pinstripe suit and printed velvet draped dresses with the asymmetrical hem that Westwood is known for.

Monday's line up brought out the crowds keen to see the winner of the British fashion awards Erdem Moralioglu, Roksanda Illinic, Christopher Kane, Thomas Tait as well as Burberry Prorsum and Hunter Original. Luxury fashion house Burberry, known for its well-stocked audience as well as theatrical touch, presented its Prorsum collection named 'Patchwork, Pattern and Prints,' which were all dominant threads that pulled the collection together. Fringed patchwork ponchos with paisley designs, muted flower covered coats and tan suede fringed trench coats were not only a continuation of the label's men's wear collection, but reminiscent of the hippie era gone by.

Burberry Prorsum returns to the hippie era with ''Patchwork, Pattern and Prints'

Christopher Kane, who dedicated his collection last season to his late tutor, Louise Wilson, dedicated this collection to his late mother, who passed three days before his show. The resulting collection, which features black smoking jackets, lace underlay covered in some cases with geometrical shapes in bold colors in others exposing the models skin underneath in cutouts. The lace detail came from a series of life drawing lessons the designer followed and according to Kane, reflect "a sense of togetherness."

"Everything I do essentially comes from drawing, it ultimately reflects how I feel," said Kane to Vogue. "I wanted a feeling of attraction and sensuality in the collection, something sexual but not grotesque." Moving away from the 60s and 70s vibe that seemed present in most collections shown, Thomas Tait looked further afar for his inspiration. "Sci-fi spaghetti western," was Tait's own description of the collection, which contained shirts with oversized collars and pockets tucked into wide trousers or panelled leather skirts as well as oversized leather jackets with buckle details in earth tones and zipped coats.

Reminding buyers and attendees alike why he was selected as the winner of the inaugural LVMH Young Fashion Designer Award, the show was slowed down and held in near darkness, which encouraged the audience to pay closer attention to the garments as the models walked past. "I just wanted to fragment the fashion show," he said. "Slow things down a bit."

Christopher Kane
Gareth Pugh
London Fashion Week
Thomas Tait