The autumn/winter collections at last month’s London fashion week were awash with desirable coats in boiled wool, masculine cuts, dark hues and experimental knitwear.
Even at the tail end of a bitter winter it all still felt relevant, with feminine, grown up fashion both high end and wearable the taste du jour. The youth-led style normally associated with London received a challenge from not only luxury big guns such as Burberry and Christopher Kane, but the fledgling designers too.
Korea in fashion
On the opening Friday, at a bustling Somerset House, relative newcomer Eudon Choi unveiled his collection in the intimate Portico showrooms. Choi’s collection was unmistakably all about Russia, complete with traditional band on Balalaikas. Models wore floral headdresses like folk-tale princesses with oversized babushka silk scarves tied under the chin, courtesy of hat man Piers Atkinson.
However, the bulk of the collection opted for a paired back, strong yet feminine look that would come to define the season. Choi, a Korean now based in Haggerston, brought contemporary tailoring and brocade textiles to charcoal dresses and sweatshirts.
Nipped in waists and full skirts came in lace, as well as earthy tones and leather that served as an understated nod to the former Soviet Union. Choi made his name in outwear, which was apparent in the jackets and masculine boiled wool coats in electric blues. However, this collection represented his informed evolution beyond the coat.
Another Korean designer making a home of East London is J.JS Lee, whose simple tailoring, with embossed detail on bold fabrics, formed the basis of a collection that incorporated polo neck under-layers and shades of cream and lilac in loose, above-the-knee skirts and tunic tops.
Crazy catwalk rebels
As the week progressed, fashion’s favourite extroverts prepared for their turn. On Monday, Tate Modern’s new space The Tanks hosted Hey Crazy – the catwalk show by Hackney’s Louise Gray whose distinct aesthetic develops little by little each season.
Gray’s refined punk edge has become a commercial asset, appealing to the ‘working woman’ as much as the twenty-something wild child. This time, her eponymous clashing patterns made their way onto grown-up princess coats and peplum tops with matching suit trousers.
Her rebellious side emerged through her styling and choice of accessories – mussed up hair and thick framed glasses which stripped the models of any gloss, whilst billowing plastic bag headpieces, tinfoil jewellery and bog roll brooches brought humour to proceedings. It was all very unmistakably Louise Gray – strip away the rubbish and you have a well-honed aesthetic.
The youth led trends were not all forgotten. Off schedule, at Holborn’s Freemason’s Hall, Norwegian Fam Irvoll showcased a collection of abbreviation-emblazoned bomber jackets, leggings and baseball caps entitled YOLO. Rather than saunter down the catwalk, models danced and swaggered to a live MC. It is debatable if this counts as fashion, but it certainly appealed to the pop toasting kids.
Fun but grown up clothes
However, this LFW was ultimately about playful but grown up fashion. Even Nasir Mazhar, the Leyton-born milliner turned designer, brought a softer feminine aesthetic to his urban brand of high end streetwear.
In a corner of The Tanks, a trail of loud Grime beats and smoke led to his presentation. Maintaining his sportswear style branding on gym tops and waistbands, Mazhar incorporated the pearly satin fabrics of bygone prom dresses to create pleated cheerleader – and floor length – skirts. Meanwhile his penchant for fake fur was played out on zebra print stoles.
It was typical Nasir Mazhar- urban and fun but a conscious step away from his millinery – letting the clothes come to the fore.
Femininity was present in many forms at London fashion week autumn/winter 2013, with East London designers urging us to dabble in a little of what is to come.
More from Rosie Higham-Stainton./ 14 March, 2013