The Best of London Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2014

Peter Pilotto was jam-packed with prints, Giles got playful with Kendall Jenner and Cara Delevingne, and Christopher Kane debuted leather goods. Plus, more from the London catwalks.

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London Fashion Week F/W 2014

Peter Pilotto was jam-packed with prints, Giles got playful with Kendall Jenner and Cara Delevingne, and Christopher Kane debuted leather goods. Plus, more from the London catwalks.

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Simone Rocha

Despite her young age, 26-year-old Simone Rocha has established herself in the fashion industry with sleek silhouettes, pieces created from sheer fabrics, and intricately crafted mesh-style separates. Rocha's Fall/Winter 2014 collection was a mature progression of the designer's aesthetic from the previous season when she showed darker, more Elizabethean colors and cuts. The styles of yore were modernized with Rocha's youthful touch, of course, as tartan was transformed into a ruffled crop top and pencil skirt, black dresses with gilded embroidery billowing at the hip, and cream lace dresses were decorated with a subtle cross motif. Every piece of the collection relied heavily on structure and texture; cuts were sharp and angular, while a mix of fabrics—from fur and python, to neoprene and pony hair—were married to create a stylish harmony.

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Only at Giles would Kendall Jenner make her London Fashion Week debut. And Cara Delevingne would record a selfie video while prancing down the runway. Designer Giles Deacon is known for his wildly playful aesthetic, so it's no surprise that the designer went for a more urban, laid-back look this season. And, with the exception of the final few, couture-like gowns, Giles dominated in the cool streetwear department. The edgy Binx Walton opened the show in a pair of black men-style moto boots, a collaboration with shoe designer Grenson, blue, black, and orange quilted leather pants, and an orange top embroidered with three turquoise birds. The tough first look shocked the audience, as did the set of strong moto-jackets, oversized knits, and balloon-sleeved dresses that followed. Things were bright and lively rather than gothic, and, surprisingly, the final few pieces, which rang most true to Giles's aesthetic, seemed out of place with the younger, more wearable collection—especially after last season's more melancholic presentation. The accessories, too, brought the looks full circle—knit beanies, chunky scarves, and moto boots and flats proved Giles was truly trying to nail that laid-back look on the head. "I wanted there to [be] a good, exciting attitude," Giles said. "Fashion should be fun."

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Peter Pilotto

Peter Pilotto deserves applause for showing such brightly colored and fun-loving pieces in the dead of winter. One must also wonder, however, where women are expected to wear such frocks and and playful skirts when the temperature reaches negative degrees. Yet the knits and outerwear of the collection were so strong, it's easy to forget that some of the silky, strapless numbers may not exactly fit. Designers Christopher de Vos and Peter Pilotto are never shy when it comes to color or digital prints, and the duo's Fall/Winter 2014 collection was no exception, with techincolor high-neck knits with equally as vibrant fur-detailing, graphic sweatshirts with loose pencil skirts, and tight lycra turtlenecks. The look was, for the most part, sporty and athletic. “It was all about subtle adjustments and distortions to come up with something new,” Pilotto said of the predominately red, orange, blue, and black collection. “We started off with an idea of extreme summer sports—like climbing or mountain biking, and tried to introduce the elements of that sport into wintry pieces.” Regardless of the seasonal association, however, each pattern-packed, colorful piece made a statement.

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Channeling French icons including Anna Karina and Betty Catroux, designer Erdem Moralioglu presented a collection that was etheral and strong, with even the most tough and masculine pieces radiating femininity. His models were "an army of weird girls," Moralioglu explained, marching in a sort-of fashion revolution, and whose uniforms consisted of regal brocade suits, flowing dresses adorned with velvet, metallics, and flower embroidery. The opening look, a black long-sleeved velvet number with jacquard-style cut-outs set the precedent for the ornate, old world-seeming pieces to follow: a short-sleeved, white furry coats with patches of jewels; an off-the-shoulder turquoise brocade dress with the same gilded accenting; and an ice blue minidress that featured a cape-style top, red accenting, and a slight pop of black velvet. The strong cuts and deep jewel tones made the collection darker than Erdem's usual aesthetic, but with the right amount of flowers and sequins, the clothing still appeared very bright. 

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Christopher Kane

Scottish designer Christopher Kane debuted handbags in his most recent collection, which was the 31-year-old designer's first foray into the more accessible, commercial market. Yet, as usual, Kane's pieces themselves were far from commercial and were, in typical fashion, created with numerous layers and ideas in mind. The collection was dominated by structured suits and separates, softly cut frocks with 3D geometric patterns and appliques (mostly crafted out of organza), and sculpted knitwear with the same quirky elements (Kane even showed some digitally-printed flowers reminiscent of his Spring/Summer 2014 collection). Most notably, however, is Kane's ability to transform the most unseemly fabrics and styles into high-fashion pieces; for example, the garbage-bag-like textile crafted into a rain jacket and dress worn by Karolina Kurkova, or a chic version of the typically unattractive puffer vest as seen on model Alexandra Elizabeth. The leather goods, too, held their own with Kane's signature touches—it was important, the designer said, that the handbags "reflect where the Christopher Kane collections began. The safety buckle is a motif from that [spring-summer 2007] collection, and is something I like to return to, as are the oversized, plastic zips. Neon color is another of our signatures from early on that reoccurs. Then there is the angular influence of the cutting from spring-summer 2012. Each of these elements has marked an important moment in time for me and for our collections." 

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Jonathan Saunders

Jonathan Saunders's Fall/Winter 2014 show was a mash-up of patterns, colors, and leftover fabrics from his menswear presentation in January. "Everything is made of something found and disposable," Saunders said of his patchwork-style pieces of felt meshed with subtle silk or glitter and flannel jackets paired with shearling. Both the hues and textiles were rich and comfortable-seeming, straying away from Saunders's more feminine and conventional aesthetic. Outerwear was oversized, sometimes long and masculine; dresses were loose, flowing, and jam-packed with prints; and wearable colored knits were paired with more neutral bottoms. The earthy colors and overly large cuts were that perfect marriage of ugly and pretty. "It’s much more mean this time," the designer said. "I like mean. It’s about seeing the beauty in something that isn’t obviously precious which is a funny thing to play with when you’re working with luxury. It’s a bit like, what is expensive? What does expensive look like? To ask that question is my job I suppose... I thought: how can I do deconstruction, something that is vandalized almost. Because my aesthetic is quite clean. I was fed up with that though. I wanted to do something different."

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Matthew Williamson

“It’s a fresh start for us," Matthew Williamson said of his new partnership with Danielle Scutt, his namesake line's newly appointed head of design. "We’ve looked at the collection both from a girl’s perspective and from a wardrobe-building one.” The collection was driven by bright colors and an explosion of patterns. There was a black and white, starburst-like sequined gown, a pink strapless minidress printed with black and white flowers and detailed with purple and maroon fur on the hips, and a black leather skirt clad with multi-colored shooting stars paired with a yellow sweater and oversized white fur coat. There was nothing subtle about Williamson's collection, and that was certainly a good thing. Clashing patterns and fabrics—polka dots, stripes, fur, stars, and more—have never looked so good together.

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Mary Katrantzou

"The inspiration for the collection can be found everywhere," said Mary Katrantzou's Fall/Winter 2014 show notes, ranging from stop signs to butcher's uniforms. The queen of prints continued to push her personal design boundaries, sending 3D fabrications down the runway with intricate embroidery and luxurious lace and appliqués. Katrantzou was inspired by symbolism—particularly the Greek origin of the word, sumbolon—taking the most simple silhouettes and deep jewel tones and transforming them into the most elegant of pieces. Every item—from mini-dresses to floor-length gowns—provided a vast juxtaposition of sharp and soft: a deep-blue velvet sweatshirt was adorned with a bright, regal crest; babydoll dresses with suspender straps were embroidered with pieces of metal; and long-sleeved frocks were decorated with multi-colored geometric shapes. It was the perfect evolution of Katrantzou's digital prints, and an even more luxurious progression of the designer's established aesthetic.

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Topshop Unique

Despite being an accessible mass-retailer, Topshop has proved itself as one of the biggest names to watch at London Fashion Week. For its Fall/Winter 2014 collection, even bigger names showed up, including Kate Moss, Anna Wintour, MIA, and Kendall Jenner, sitting front row to admire the good girl gone bad-themed pieces. The show, held at the Tate Modern, focused mostly on outwear—some of its strongest pieces included a blue mohair wrap coat, a silver, mid-length puffy jacket, and a gold, snakeskin single-breasted number. There was a strong focus on earthy hues and fur was utilized frequently as either the main fabric of a piece or for detailing. “We’re looking at this old etiquette book we found, it’s called ‘How to be a lady,’” Topshop’s head of design Emma Farrow told AFP. “With our Unique girl, we’re saying it’s ‘How NOT to be a lady.’” Instead, with oversize knits and cool biker boots, it was clear that Topshop wants us to embrace our inner-Tomboy.

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Paul Smith

Sir Paul Smith went comfortable with his Fall/Winter 2014 collection. “People would dress in pajama jackets and dressing gowns. They would make clothes out of curtains!” Smith said of how people used to dress. “That’s how they made their statement.” Smith too, made a statement, reverting back to pieces that resembled pajamas and bathrobes. Fabrics were mostly flowing and silky, coming in pinstripes, paisley, brocade, and flowers. The cuts were equally as lush and comfortable, with loose trousers paired with oversized button-downs, a-line dresses that strayed away from the models’s hips, and male-like blazers and turtlenecks. Everything was quintessentially Paul Smith, who is most recognized for his menswear. And while this collection was for the ladies, the pieces still had that Smith-like androgynous flair.

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Julien Macdonald

Julien Macdonald is known for making sexy clothes. Held at The Royal Courts of Justice, Macdonald’s show featured shimmering, ultra-feminine gowns that sparkled against the elaborately adorned backdrop. It opened with a silver, barely-there number, setting precedent for the revealing, glistening numbers to come: a sheer black, one-sleeved mini-dress with ostrich feathers; a long-sleeved metallic dress that featured such heavy beading, it created an optical illusion; and a sheer, nude gown with purple and pink Oriental-inspired printing. The dresses featured the same intricate tailoring, embellishments, and drop-dead sexy aura that Macdonald consistently sends down the runway. No wonder he’s called “the Welsh Donatella Versace.”

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House of Holland

A white turtleneck scripted with “RICHE BISH,” opened the House of Holland show, which is no surprise, as designer Henry Holland always delivers that mix of quirk and party girl in his collections. The models were a “gang of HOH harlets,” the designer explained, a group of “debauched debutantes” in their neon separates, sequined dresses, and beaded varsity jackets. It was clear—especially with pieces such as a white sweatshirt screen-printed with the cover of a gossip magazine (paired with a blue quilted bomber jacket, adorned with red lipsticks, silky track pants, and heels with pom poms), a red mini-dress embellished with champagne flutes and playful bows, and tattered jeans patched with red, orange, and pink strips of tulle—that Holland was indeed designing for the wild, party-loving socialite (or rich bitch). Maybe he even had some of his front row stars in mind, like Kelly Osbourne and Pixie Geldoff. The lipsticks, glitter, and technicolor furs may come off as a bit juvenile—but who cares? It’s Henry Holland’s party, and he’ll do what he wants.

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J.W. Anderson

There were high expectations for J.W. Anderson this season following LVMH’s recent investment in 46 percent of his namesake label, as well as his appointment as creative director of Spanish label (and subsidiary of LVMH) LOEWE. His most recent collection was a success, featuring the strong shapes and minimalist aesthetic that the 28-year-old Northern Ireland designer has established as his foundation. “It’s romantic, but a bit broken—farmy elegance, contaminated roots,” Anderson told The New York Times of his Fall/Winter 2014 collection, which was dominated by oversized turtlenecks, flowing drop-waist skirts, and exaggerated necklines and sleeves. His pieces were so sculptural, in fact, that it was different to imagine some of the pieces as wearable. “I think everyone should be challenged,” Anderson explained of his collection. “I wanted to explore the idea of contortion and to make the arms look withered and hunched.” And that’s exactly what he did.

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Emilia Wickstead

A favorite of Kate Middleton, New Zealand-born designer Emilia Wickstead presented a Fall/Winter 2014 collection that was completely different than her usual flirty and feminine look. The designer, who is best known for soft silhouettes in light pastels went gothic, presenting a predominately black collection with stronger, more masculine cuts. The show opened with an intricately-tailored black leather coat with Swarovski-crystal detailing that was luxurious and beautiful, yet so much tougher than the typical Wickstead girl. Inspired by film noir, Wickstead modernized 1950s-style shapes, presenting full-skirt dresses in black, snakeskin, and leather paired with silver, ankle-strap heels and black thick socks, sleek pencil skirts in nude with yellow lace, and patterned a-line dresses accessorized with elbow-length leather gloves.