LONDON (Reuters) - Renaissance paintings, Russian themes and military cuts dominated the catwalk on the second day at London Fashion Week with evening gowns, fur hats and eclectic prints for the autumn/winter season.
Dresses in rich hues of cobalt, emerald and ruby featured heavily and marched alongside military-inspired coats with fur detailing for a fashion week keen to burnish its reputation for young creativity.
"It's become a really, really exciting place to be. Especially in the last five years. People are realizing that there's a lot of businesses here that are very scalable," British designer Alice Temperley told Reuters.
Temperley, whose collection was inspired by Renaissance paintings, sent her models out in huge fluffy fur hats, brightly colored printed dresses with oriental flower patterns and delicate sheer evening gowns with rich beaded detailing and embroidery that oozed decadence and the glamour of past eras.
Dressed in a deep blue navy lace jacket and skirt, the designer said she wanted to have fun creating something that was new, current and sensual with something that was rich and opulent. She added that attention she had received from Kate Middleton (now the Duchess of Cambridge) and her younger sister Pippa had boosted her label.
"They're great British ambassadors and we're a British brand. It can only be a good, healthy thing," she said.
At Issa London, models wore vibrant printed dresses and colorful evening gowns of deep rich hues. Subtle embellishments of beading, fur hats and a Chinese red lace piece drew approval from the crowd.
Actress Gemma Atherton, musician Tinie Tempah and American DJ and model Leigh Lezark graced the front row of Issa, another favorite of the Duchess of Cambridge, as models sashayed past with fur hats or printed scarves neatly tied about their necks.
Issa, the label created by Brazilian designer Daniela Helayal, said its printed dresses and separates were inspired by a trans-Siberian adventure, Faberge eggs, St Basil's Cathedral and the traditional print of Babushka dolls.
Aquascutum showcased a more masculine silhouette with models sporting slicked-back hair and winged eyeliner. Leather jackets with shiny patent panels adorned with fur, elegant and ladylike dresses and textured skirts with mid-length hemlines were mixed with discreet shades of grey, olive and burgundy and smart separate pieces.
Carrie Tyler, editor of ELLEUK.com, told Reuters she saw a big military trend emerging in New York.
Tyler said Topshop owner Philip Green's renewed ten-year sponsorship of the NEWGEN platform of designers ensured talents like Mary Katrantzou, Christopher Kane and Erdem will get the necessary funding to grow.
"The mayhem at Katrantzou's Topshop collection launch proves that there's a global desire for these British labels. Fresh new British talent Phoebe English, Fyodor Golan and Corrie Nielsen kept London's reputation for evolution alive," Tyler said.
Rising star Fyodor Golan showcased a collection on Friday that was not only extremely creative but also contemporary and wearable. Models with intricately braided hair were adorned in rich materials of leather, burnished metallic and ruffled silk.
London is also gaining a sharp sense of business acumen that has helped its reputation grow commercially.
"As businesses, we deliver on time, we deliver really good products and there's more of those scalable businesses than there were before," Temperley said.
"It's not just about the new generation, there are people coming through that are obviously very creative and very inspiring and what London is renowned for, but it's also about people who have good businesses that can and do sell globally."
Additional reporting by Nickie Omer, editing by Paul Casciato