Having had the invitation couriered to me the day before the event - undiscovered in my mailbox until late evening - I’d planned to work on Menswear Day and was so pleased to be invited to the closing event of the schedule, that it was pretty much all I talked about for the subsequent 24 hours. Held in Leicester Square’s famed Odeon cinema, guests, fashion glitterati and celebrities alike queued for over an hour to walk along the elegant black carpet posing for the hundreds of paparazzi in attendance, effortlessly snubbing Julia Roberts' Eat Pray Love film premiere also held on the same night.
Hands down, the best show I have ever had the pleasure of attending!! At points I was so excited it was a shame I had no one to turn to so I ended up exchanging platitudes and tips on corking the champers with those sat around me, and defiantly refusing requests - from equally greedy revellers - for the second mini Moët perched next to me.
The Odeon provided the perfect location to preview Boateng’s forthcoming full-length documentary film, covering the past 12 years of his career and life; A Man’s Story. Seated in the upper circle, I had a great view of all the action seeing the floor show, with the added bonus of the close-up and detail shots visible on the auditorium. In my sexy leopard print seat, I thoroughly enjoyed the complimentary bottle of mini Moët, maybe too much and was thrilled to see the A-list film unfolding in front of me with Hollywood heavyweights; Will Smith, Laurence Fishburne and Gabriel Byrne discussing what is so unique about a Boateng suit.
A heart-warming presentation, the epic scale production witnessed was the culmination of 25 years of the Ozwald Boateng brand - and his inaugural outing at London Fashion Week - marking the silver anniversary with an unprecedented move; presenting over two collections worth of suiting requiring upwards of 100 models to showcase each of the equally dapper looks. With the AW10 collection also titled A Man’s Story, guests were treated to Boateng’s most striking and definitive collection to date, unifying the depth of classic traditions with modernism to present not only a style evolution, but the evolution of man – and on the night, the evolution of Boateng himself.
Showing the youngster’s of menswear fashion how it’s done, Boateng created an emphatic, world-class and highly emotional end to London Fashion Week, dedicating the collection to his father, whom appeared on stage alongside him to soak up the profuse applause and standing ovations. As the first tailor of African heritage to set-up shop on London’s prestigious Saville Row, Boateng has gone on to build a successful empire, cementing his great legacy being honoured by the Queen with an OBE in 2006. With rumours of a womenswear collection in the future I am trés excited.
Between you and me, I was rather emotional during this presentation, feeling like I was part of Boateng’s circle, celebrating his journey with him. With the music throughout varying between recognisable dance tunes and non descript chart hits, Florence And The Machine’s cover of You Got The Love rang true, leaving such a lasting and inclusive atmosphere that I overheard several guests leaving humming and singing the song (at varying decibels) rather cheesily proving that we all had the love for one very special man in particular.
A label I wasn’t overly familiar with, on Tuesday evening I attended the Krystof Strozyna SS11 fashion show at Vauxhall Fashion Scout. Not really knowing what to expect, the show opened with a short film depicting a stunning model eating flowers with great aplomb.
No sooner than the film had started, guests were treated to a multitude of meticulously draped nudes, flesh tone lace dresses and leggings akin to body-stockings, a result of the extreme body-con shapes shown, filtering down the catwalk in quick succession.
Clean silhouettes, graphic cuts and oversized wooden jewellery were a few trademarks of Krystof Strozyna present on his SS11 catwalk – or so I learned. With this being his sixth eponymous collection, Strozyna built upon his favourite themes, focusing on subtle nature-inspired prints, adding serious sex appeal to his hourglass silhouette.
Contrasting chiffon was draped and inserted into panels of fitted dresses, with sheer panelling present in full length trousers, visible from knee to ankle, adding a very tame fetishist appeal. With a timid colour palette of creamy violet, mint green and diluted fuchsia, this is a collection sure to hit the spot next season.
On the final ladieswear day of SS11, I raced from work to the Portico Rooms at Somerset House to view the Christian Blanken presentation. One I was very much looking forward to, I was far from disappointed with the luxury sportswear on display in monochrome. With super tight leggings and jeans, juxtaposed with billowing Grecian empire lines, and strong directional metallics, the collection was very interesting indeed and I certainly can’t wait until AW11.
Much like last season, one of the highlights of my LFW was the F.A.D show (organised by creative charity (Fashion Awareness Direct), a not-for-profit organisation supporting young people to bridge the gap between education and the fashion industry. Working tirelessly to educate young people in the community (typically aged between 16-19), F.A.D offer a series of fashion workshops to equip their members with the skills and knowledge to go on to pursue a career in fashion.
Monday night saw the catwalk show that was the culmination of and marks six years of the Fashion Futures 2 project, an initiative which has seen F.A.D. work with over 650 teenagers. Heavily supported by industry, this project gives professionals an opportunity to reach out to young people, volunteering their time and expertise through practical workshops and industry days, held on weekends during the summer holidays.
Originally selected from 130 young people, twenty-four teenagers from inner-city London and Manchester showcased garments that they designed and constructed in just five days - inspired by the V&A’s Medieval and Renaissance galleries – at Vauxhall Fashion Scout, awarding them a unique opportunity to showcase their work to press, friends and family during London Fashion Week.
Presented in a much simpler format this season, each of the twenty-four designers showcased one garment, with several developing their own take on the themes of new luxury and craftsmanship, creating eye-catching, modern and fashion-forward evening wear and even red carpet inspired dresses, complete with edgy detailing in an opulent colour palette of rich greys, regal purples and luscious greens.
With designer Zandra Rhodes and retailers M&S, River Island and John Lewis taking front row seats the atmosphere before the awards were announced was tense. In what proved to be the closest competition yet, in addition to the main prize, three runner-up awards were also announced by Lucy Jones, Director of Fashion Textiles at the University of East London – where the summer workshops are held.
A night of triumph for the boys, 18 year-old Andre Augusto (of Hampstead School, Camden) was presented with the Creative Pattern Cutting Award for his sculptural blue and black design.
*Award for Creative Pattern Cutting_Andre Augusto_Hampstead School, Camden
“I think it’s amazing that there is F.A.D. I have never heard of any other charity that does something like this, especially within the fashion industry. I think it really puts young people out there, I’m really happy that I’ve come this far.” – Andre Augusto.
*Award for Commercial Innovation_Karmen-Marie Parker_St Angela's & St. Bonaventure's 6th Form, Newham
In a heart-warming display of genuine surprise, a delighted Karmen-Marie Parker, 17 (of St. Angela’s & St. Bonaventure’s 6th Form, Newham) burst into tears on hearing she had won the Award for Commercial Innovation.
*Award for Research_Sarah Kilkenny_Ashton 6th Form College, Tameside
Sarah Kilkenny (of Ashton 6th Form College, Tameside) narrowly missed out on the top prize, coming in as the third runner-up of the evening, presented with the Research Award for her sophisticated sketchbook work and illustrations which saw her create a beautiful short burgundy gown, with a halter-neck rope detail strap.
*2010 F.A.D. Junior Award Winner_David Short, Lewisham College
For the main prize, David Short became the first boy in the history of the F.A.D Junior Awards to be crowned the overall winner. The stunned 17 year-old from Lewisham College took to the catwalk with his model to celebrate winning a coveted design placement with London-based designers, Religion. His emerald green dress won unanimous approval from this year’s industry jury, combining Medieval and Renaissance luxury with Mad Men inspired elegance.
*2010 F.A.D. Junior Awards_Adam Preece
Three other designers who I felt deserve a special mention are Adam Preece (of Tameside College, Tameside); who produced a simple grey shift with an oversized printed bib detail depicting Mary in the traditional setting of a stained-glass window (I think my favourite of the 24 garments).
*2010 F.A.D. Junior Awards_Sinead Cloonan
Sinead Cloonan (of City and Islington College, Islington); who created a triple tiered structured grey dress (reminiscent of a Roland Mouret design) with crystal shoulder embellishments and Naomi Dorton (of Lewisham College, Lewisham); who created a beautiful royal blue velvet halter-neck dress complete with a rope tassel belt.
Inspired by the luxurious lifestyle and summer playgrounds of the affluent, guests were transported to an exotic destination at the whim of British fashion stalwart Jasper Conran. With a soundtrack of Bluegrass (very similar to the True Blood soundtrack – which incidentally I love) the mood was relaxed and carefree. The opening looks of printed shift dresses, sheer organza florals and full hats were reminiscent of the 1960’s, exuding pared-down luxury with a classic, yet contemporary twist.
Image courtesy of Planet Notion
A great believer in clean lines and simple silhouettes, Conran easily presented one of the most infinitely wearable and commercial collections to come from London Fashion Week so far, creating enviable wardrobe staples born for a Riviera lifestyle.
Allowing his laidback attitude to influence the show, Conran sent his models down the catwalk in crisp white plimsolls, providing a refreshing departure from the stacked heels and stilettos present among his contemporaries. As if recreating the Neapolitan ice-cream, a standout piece was a panelled dress in pistachio, strawberry and chocolate shades, good enough to eat.
A firm favourite, whom I have followed for the past three seasons (SS10 and AW10), yesterday afternoon at On|Off, Ada Zanditon displayed a salon show of her new SS11 collection, quirkily called The Pyramora – to rave reviews and rapturous applause.
Utilising fractal geometry and tessellation to provide the foundation for her architecturally disciplined collection, Zanditon combined innovation and ingenious shapes with technical precision, to create something entirely her own. Inspired by The Great Pyramid and the delicate structure of coral reefs, Zanditon plumped for light and translucent materials such as fine chiffon, organic cotton, silk douppion and recycled heritage British brand trench fabrics to form intriguing structural shapes.
With gravity-defying conical hair personifying the pyramid theme, models were adorned in vibrant iridescent turquoise, gold and burnt orange present in a kaleidoscope of prints depicting coral reefs combined with watercolour to provide the colour palette and backdrop for the range, completed with Zanditon’s illustrations.
A matching caramel coloured vegetable dyed leather crop top and mini skirt was a standout look that shouldn’t work, but indeed it did exuding attitude and confidence. For the first time – I can recall - Ada has collaborated with a jewellery designer, Luca Romanyi to produce square porcelain tiles broken into triangles depicting the recurring prints, enhanced with Swarovski crystals and leather.
A truly fabulous collection and I’m really rooting for her to get more stockists and the international acclaim she truly deserves.
Citing the inspiration for his SS11 collection as the Grand Tour; the bohemian travellers of the last Century combined with images from Deborah Turbeville’s Past Imperfect, John Rocha darkly smudged the lines between fragility and strength, width and refrain, creating an atmosphere of curious beauty.
True to form Rocha’s colour palette remained as his trademark monochrome, utilising nude, rose and ivory hues taken from his favourite paintings to give garments further depth. With heavily textured summer bonnets, delicate knits, raw summer tweeds and tufted lace, woollen skirt suits in white were reminiscent of Coco Chanel’s trademark cardigan jackets, which also manifest in the form of a short shift-dress and a sweeping fishtail skirt.
The menswear conveyed a certain vagabond air with cut-away coats, drawstring details, high cropped trousers and exaggerated shirts, reminiscent of wayward pilgrims. Cocoon shaped backpacks in contrasting black and white flooded the catwalk sporadically, hinting at journeys to be taken, intriguingly teamed with even the smartest of dresses, creating an altogether modern aesthetic that may well just catch on.
All photographs on this site are the property of Creative-Idle/ Rachael Oku. Other images taken by third parties are credited within the relevant post. If you would like to use any of my photographs please ask.