The invitation to Ashish's Autumn/Winter 2013 show at London Fashion Week showed an image of workers on a construction site. Sometimes fashion show invitations act as a sneak peek into the collection, and sometimes they're completely abstract, but the photo on Ashish's invitation was as far from catwalk glamour as you could imagine. Or so it seemed.
As soon as the first model emerged on the catwalk under Somerset House's big tent, donning a neon yellow visibility jacket, it became clear that the Indian-born designer took inspiration from the very same workwear pictured on the show invitation.
What separated this jacket from the one you'd put on when your car went kaput on the road was that it was entirely made of Ashish's signature sequins.
Continually inspired by urban London life, Ashish has a penchant for reworking everyday pieces you see in the streets into catwalk looks. Last season he put models in white Reeboks, recalling the contemporary metropolitan woman who walks to work in running shoes and puts on expensive high-heeled pumps at her desk. The neon jackets in the Autumn/Winter 2013 collection echoed road workers as much as London cyclists driving in the morning fog.
In line with the high visibility theme, most looks featured silver reflective stripes. Ashish's 'Working Girl' wore baggy jumpers with large plastic pockets (handy for keeping tools), wide patchwork denim garments, slouchy jackets, even an apron (presumably for mixing mortar). But there were also London party girl's new clothes: windowpane check ponchos trimmed in fringe, holographic frocks, and sleek spaghetti-strap overalls covered in innumerable sparkling sequins.
Cleverly, Ashish kept the number of neon visibility pieces to three and conveyed his point through less flashy reflective stripes instead. Anything more and the collection would risk becoming a caricature of itself. Most importantly, Ashish's catwalk adaptation of ordinary workwear and obnoxious hi-vis garments can be understood globally. After this collection, you'll no longer be able to pass traffic cones without a smile.
Photos from Style.com.
Korean-born designer Eudon Choi turned to Russian folklore for the inspiration for his Autumn/Winter 2013 collection, mysteriously titled Varykino.
Playful folkloric elements such as peasant blouses, vivacious oversized babushkas by milliner Piers Atkinson, and wide calf-length skirts were toned down by sombre black leather and heavy brocade. Several black ensembles were festooned with a mix of hot pink and red sequins that injected a dose of modernity into the collection.
While the pieces based on Russian traditional clothing were as fresh as anything at London Fashion Week, leather garments in dark colours felt restrained, recalling a whole different period of Russia's history – the Soviet Union.
The highlight of the show were headpieces consisting of bright flowers and large pom-poms, which also appeared on shoes. Eudon Choi's girl was dainty and romantic literally from head to toe.
Photos from Vogue.com.
Fyodor Golan was the first show I attended at London Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2013. Designers Fyodor Podgorny and Golan Frydman described their collection as a coming-of-age story inspired by Luis Buñuel's cult 1967 film Belle de jour, starring Catherine Deneuve.
The Belle de jour inspiration was largely unrecognisable because the intricate pieces full of contrasts and a cantata playing in the background suggested something else: baroque. The show opened with short white dresses decorated with large, sharp abstract black prints, evoking the Spanish Inquisition. There were wide black chokers, stern jackets with oversized lapels, and folds creating unexpected shapes (from the back, they looked like small wings).
The collection vacillated between eveningwear and no-nonsense daytime pieces. However, sleek gowns exposing the shoulders told a different story than simple knitwear in burnt-orange.
Everyone in the audience whipped out their phones at the sight of a large round mask covering the model's whole face – a nod to Fyodor Golan's Spring/Summer 2013 collection, which featured large architectural hats by milliner Zara Gorman. The headdress felt slightly out of place in this show, but made for a great Instagram moment.
Though the collection lacked cohesion, I appreciate that Fyodor Golan is emerging with its own identity instead of knocking off Nicolas Ghesquière's Balenciaga, which seems to be all the rage wherever you look these days.
Photos from Vogue.com.
P.S. The show I had been looking forward to the most yesterday was Jean-Pierre Braganza, one of my favourite young London designers. After queuing for half an hour, they turned about 70 people away because the venue had reached full capacity, though we had invitations. The same thing happened this morning at the Clements Ribeiro show, so unfortunately I'll be unable to publish as many show reviews as I had intended.
I've been obsessed with red all winter, not kitschy Christmas ornaments red paired with the impotent green of dying trees, but luxurious, deep, expensive red. I found it an alluring alternative to black because when rich enough, red is just as serious and more than a little enigmatic.
A color reserved for the upper echelons of beauty.
These looks from Oscar de la Renta's Pre-Fall 2012 collection carry the same poem of red as urban glamorous opulence. How perfectly would they fit in at dimly-lit dinner parties in icy Paris and New York? Occasions where you can never be overdressed, where it's only natural to bury yourself neck-deep in diamonds. While it might seem I'm getting carried away by my romantic imagination, de la Renta's clothes are a dream standing firmly on the ground. Perhaps they know better than me.
H&M has announced a new designer collaboration with Marni. The spring collection designed by Marni's creative director Consuelo Castiglioni will be released in 260 stores worldwide and online. It will include womenswear, menswear and accessories with focus on the Italian label's signature prints and patterns. The Marni for H&M release date is March 8, 2012.
Just a few days ago I was talking to a friend about how the Versace for H&M collection was already passé due to the H&M collaboration process unraveling insanely quickly – much to my chagrin as I found the collaboration to be spot-on – so the timing of this announcement amuses me greatly.
The biggest hype surrounding H&M collaborations takes place a month before the collection is released and on the day of the release. It seems to me that collaboration pieces aren't nearly as interesting afterwards because the real challenge for fashionistas is to snatch them up (and be photographed wearing them) before the official release, made possible by early press launches, lending, clothes "incidentally" disappearing from showrooms etc. Hence the immediate need for a new hot designer collaboration to obsess over.
Additionally, Donatella Versace has also designed a spring collection for H&M. This second Versace for H&M collaboration will be released on January 19, 2012. I'm wondering which collection will get more attention; between the two, the label with more street cred is undoubtedly Versace, especially after the H&M collaboration made it even more famous.
Leaving Versace and Marni aside, as I tweeted earlier today, what I really want to see is a (possibly blasphemous) collaboration between H&M and Hermès. A girl can dream, right?