LONDON (Reuters) - London’s designers toyed with the idea of a British summer presenting a mixture of sheer lace dresses, furry stoles and raincoats, whilst moving their collections away from traditional seasons to reflect global demand for their clothes.
Delicate lace dresses were paired with cashmere coats and rucksacks at Burberry, in black, white and yellow, lending a edgy and urban feel to the British brand, which is famous for its trench coats.
Christopher Bailey, Burberry’s CEO and Chief Creative Officer told Reuters he wanted to create a mash-up of the different seasons his customers were experiencing across the globe to better reflect what they might want to wear.
“The collection tried to express these different worlds, so you had very white, very fragile little lace dresses, but you also had black cashmere coats on the runaway so it was this mash-up.”
London Fashion Week, which attracts 100 million pounds ($154.24 million)in orders each season according to the British Fashion Council, has sharpened its business focus over the past few years to usher in a new generation of fashion designers who blend creativity with a healthy dose of commerce.
The emergence of more commercially savvy designers has made the city a key destination for buyers to visit on the fashion week calendar which will move onto Milan and Paris.
“I think the younger designers which is really why people come to London,” said Justin O’Shea, buying director at online luxury retailer MyTheresa.com.
“The fact that they are solidified and cemented their identity is the reason why people are coming back because now it’s about business.”
Earlier in the week, furry stoles were draped over cocktail dresses, loose shirts and pencil skirts at Topshop Unique, taking on a 1980s feel, which also featured sheer lace dresses with floral detailing, in black and white.
Topshop Unique Creative Director Kate Phelan said she drew on the idea of a British summer, from garden parties to the heritage of Savile Row tailoring for the collection, which also comprised sweaters and coats layered over outfits to reflect outfits for all seasons.
“I think fashion has become totally seasonless,” Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of U.S. Vogue, told Reuters.
“I don’t understand colors and seasons anymore, because it seems like they show winter clothes in the summer and summer clothes in the winter, so I don’t really worry about seasons.”
Earlier on in the week, designer Molly Goddard presented a collection of voluminous tulle dresses drawing on a “bleak” English summer for inspiration by placing her models in a sandwich factory setting.
Wellington boot maker Hunter used British music festivals as a starting point for its collection, which featured camouflage dresses and vinyl raincoats.
Designers also looked to artists and paintings for inspiration at Holly Fulton and Jasper Conran, playing with color, prints and detailed embellishment and embroidery.
“There is an element of fantasy coming (into collections) and a surreal beauty,” said O’Shea. “There’s something a little bit darker to it which I think is a continuation from fall,” he added.
The week finished with a uplifting show from accessories designer Anya Hindmarch, who presented a collection of handbags and shoes with graphic details inspired by retailers like British department store John Lewis and French supermarket Carrefour.
“The collection was very much inspired by pattern,” said Hindmarch said backstage after her show.
“We worked with brands that meant something to me in my childhood, unlikely in a way but have really strong graphic identity.”
Accessories designers have started to form an important part of London Fashion Week, especially as the one of the highest performing categories for womenswear.
“It’s really the brands which have a true identity, which seem to be performing the best,” said O’Shea. “I think that there’s something in that especially for the London designers, that seems to be most appealing thing to the consumer at the moment.”
Additional reporting by Ngozi Kemjika and Jane Witherspoon