RUNWAY TRENDS: LFW Sheds its Quirky Image

London Fashion Week shook off its traditional image as a mere playground for quirky emerging talent with a display of grown-up elegance for the autumn/winter 2012 season that had leaders of the global fashion pack singing the British capital’s praises. By the close of the shows, top British designers such as Paul Smith, Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton and Burberry’s Christopher Bailey had presented catwalk collections which more than suggested that the “edgy” London of yesteryear had matured into a sleek and sophisticated luxury powerhouse.


Paul Smith


“We used to come here and think it’s all going to be eccentric and street chic and actually it’s incredibly grown up, polished and sexy, glamorous clothes so it’s a global stage now — it’s wonderful,” U.S. Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour told Reuters on the sidelines of the shows. London has always been overshadowed by New York, Milan and Paris on the fashion map, and often derided by critics as the “capital of quirk”, despite spawning industry stars such as Stella McCartney, McQueen and Vivienne Westwood as well as leading global luxury labels such as Burberry and Mulberry.


Mary Katrantzou


Military styles, bright prints, furs and quintessentially English looks dominated the catwalks, while bejewelled, sequined and embroidered creations also featured prominently this season. Many of the collections included panelled creations. Belstaff delivered tailored leather jackets with armour type panelling. Burberry sent panelled trenchcoats down the runway and Peter Pilotto dressed his models in figure-hugging stretch dresses slashed with mesh panels. Designers accentuated the female figure by nipping coats and jackets in at the waist to create an hourglass silhouette — Burberry used colourful bows to achieve this look while McQ from Alexander McQueen chose leather military-style belts with gold buckles.


Peter Pilotto




Sasha Wilkins, founder of the successful fashion blog, said the British capital now competed on equal footing with its rival fashion capitals. “We seem to have got to the point where London can properly take its place on the world stage,” said Wilkins, a former Wall Street Journal executive style editor. And the city’s place on the fashion map is likely to become more prominent this summer thanks to a “great halo effect” that the Olympic Games will bring, British Fashion Council chairman Harold Tillman told Reuters.


Traditional English fabrics like felts, velvets, tweed and tartan found favour with designers who sought to overturn London’s reputation for young creativity, avant garde trends and edgy designs by opting for elegant tailored creations. Burberry creative director Bailey combined country and town styles at a show packed with celebrities. His models sashayed down the runway in quilted jackets, peplum skirts and tiered fringe dresses teamed with brogue lace-up angle boots before a clap of thunder was heard and water emulating rain gushed down the sides of the transparent marquee in which the event was hosted.


Burberry rain


At McQ, military chic ruled supreme — creative director Sarah Burton sent models down a runway carpeted with autumnal leaves in khaki coats and suits featuring large pockets and big metal buttons with shiny leather lace-up stiletto boots. Flared strapless tartan dresses with sheer sleeves, lacy tops, delicate embroidery and appliquéd velvet flowers showed a softer, more feminine side.




Stella McCartney also staged an extravagant spectacle, wowing the audience with magic tricks, models dancing on tables, a jazz band and a vegetarian dinner as she showcased bright marbled patterns, floral prints and gathered puffy skirts. “It’s London, it’s Britain. It’s celebrating everything that is bold and irreverent about being a British brand,” McCartney told Reuters about her inspiration for the opulent collection.

Stella McCartney


After presenting a Renaissance-inspired collection of fluffy fur hats, bright print dresses with oriental flower patterns and richly embroidered and beaded sheer evening gowns, British designer Alice Temperley said London had become a very exciting place to be as people realised a lot of businesses in the British capital were actually very scalable. “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,” she said.

Temperley London

From Reuters
By Michelle Martin
Images from

Thursday, February 23, 2012 · Categories: Trend Analysis, Fashion, Runway, Fashion Blogs
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