A Sunday that drenched London in intense showers didn’t wash out the fashion, with two stellar collections from Simone Rocha and Erdem, and more than honorable displays by Tove and Holzweiler.
Simone Rocha: Cakes, ice cream and a dash of perversity
A memorable fashion moment and a beautiful show by Simone Rocha, referencing Irish mythology, modern art, path-breaking fabrics, a little magic, and a dash of perversity.
A collection entitled ‘Dress Rehearsal’, staged inside the rehearsal studio of the English National Ballet in London’s Docklands. A wide-ranging series of experiments, presented in an all-black room before a white custom-made building frame bearing angels blowing trumpets, and symbolizing the Little Ark of Kilbaha. A modest wooden structure used in the mid-19th century by the Irish to say mass at low tide off the coast of County Clare in an Atlantic Bay, after the local landlord refused them permission to build a church on land. A Celtic symbol of resilience, faith and love – rather like this collection.
Symbolically, the actual collection was delivered into show-space at low tide and departed at the next one.
“If last season was a standing stone. This season felt like paper. I wanted something very light, and very fragile in that way. But interpreted in a perverse way, revealing what was beneath. Peeling off layers,” explained Rocha post-show.
Starring tulle dresses, trench-coats and gowns, out of which peered twisted paper roses. Or brilliant nylon parkas, trenches and town-coats sprouting fabric buds and flowers.
Influenced by Cy Twombly cake sculptures, and playing with novel fabrications, Rocha dreamed up a whole series of looks that looked like cotton ice cream piped onto the garments. In many hues from blancmange to pistachio.
Though bizarre, the ideas were always captivating – whether a silver leather scrunched up biker jacket worn with an ecru tulle bubble skirt or a metallic bouffant cocktail that was essentially one giant bow.
“I wanted each look to feel isolated with its own narrative,” she added.
They all did.
Erdem: Duchess of Devonshire goes to Graceland
Who would have thought that the Duchess of Devonshire was a huge fan of Elvis Presley, and that fandom would inspire a collection? Erdem Moralioglu did, and the result was a particularly brilliant display by the Turko-Canadian designer.
Earlier this year, Erdem immersed himself in the archives of Chatsworth, the Devonshire family home that is one of England’s most beautiful mansions. Even returning with several yards of discarded chintz from Chatsworth’s curtains, used in a trio of magnificent opening gowns.
Blending the duchess’ obsession with Elvis, into her signature white shirts and blouses finished with Elvis-style embroidery, or flapper dresses or biker jackets juxtaposed by his star-burst style crystal decoration. Snippets of Presley singing Always On My Mind were interspersed with extracts from an interview with the Duchess.
One of the legendary Mitford sisters, Deborah Devonshire was a famed society matron, noted memoirist and socialite.
Around the estate she dressed in rugged waxed cotton weather gear, leading Erdem to partner with Barbour in several opening looks. Outerwear, but still shaped into couture volumes in forties-style opera coats.
“Inheritance made do and mend. And the idea of making things last. When curtains were taken down in Chatsworth, they were often turned into upholsteries,” he mused post-show.
Several Devonshire fabrics from the 1940s were even embroidered inside Erdem’s studio by Stella Tennant’s daughter, Cecily, the great granddaughter of the duchess.
“A wonderful idea of continuity,” he enthused.
Erdem also culled other Chatsworth quilted fabrics, and then had a textile archivist to recreate them. Sending out a stunning series of off-the-shoulder gowns in architectural prints in a show which won the designer huge cheers.
Tove: Grown-up British style
A purist manifesto at Tove, a brand that celebrates quiet elegance, understatement and idyllic draping.
Presented almost languidly inside the Hayward Gallery on the banks of the Thames, this was the most soigné collection seen in London this season.
Founded and designed by Camille Perry and Holly Wright, Tove, which means strength in Danish, summed up the key to these classy clothes.
Too often London Fashion Week is typecast as avant-garde eccentricity from young hopefuls, which made this collection from Tove such a welcome discovery.
Holzweiler: Norway comes to North London
The weather gods were not kind to Holzweiler this Sunday, but the design muses were in a generous mood.
The Norwegian brand staged its show in Camley Street Natural Park, an unusual green space of oak trees, marsh, ponds and wattle fences, a charmingly raw space behind King’s Cross railway station. It should have been the idyllic location for these posh-hippies-off-to-a-well-catered-picnic clothes.
Then the English rain came down, dampening the mood but not the thrust of this collection; a fine series of knits, padded outerwear, asymmetrical slip dresses, patchwork skirts and boys and girls in enormously large pants. A co-ed show featuring some great oatmeal patchwork cable knit sweaters – including one that read Holzweiler Community Garden Premium Company Flour.
Oslo-based, the brand has all the quirky insouciance that one associates with Norwegians, by some estimates the richest people on earth, and often the hardiest.
So even if it rained on Holzweiler’s fashion party, this show felt like a triumph.
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