LFW – the post-mortem

LFW has finished and the hordes decamped to Milan. So what did I make of it all?

It was a fun one! Early starts and late finishes aside, I find that doing fashion week hardcore stylee – as in back-to-back shows, not dipping in and out in between office visits/meetings etc – is the way to go. Granted, going without food and sleep is a tad inconvenient but the people-watching is excellent as is the eavesdropping and gossip-gathering. For example, who knew that international super-super-stylist for the Julien MacDonald show was such a prize chump of a drama queen? Reports of screaming and shouting from his corner have been flying round London’s fashion quarters faster than Kanye’s limo. Mind you, I’d be having a hissy fit too if I knew a certain rival stylist was hogging ‘my’ models thus delaying them for no good reason other than some lame power trip point-scoring. I had no idea styling was so political! Then there was the overheard news of one ex-executive fashion editor who has just nabbed the plum job of working for Armani in Milan but is dreading the prospect of her obligatory nothing-but-Armani work wardrobe. Does nobody like Armani?

Away from the madness of the shows, the exhibition tent was an oasis of calm. I was especially taken with the MAC stand where the PRs were super-generous with the goody bags. Why the heck did I not know about this before, pray tell? The Esthetica area is a section especially geared to promoting eco/ethical brands but most of them still ‘aren’t quite there’ yet. I did like the Izzy Lane stand though, everything is made in the UK and the shoes which I adore, and have used for shoots, are particularly fabulous. I’m assured they are supremely comfortable too which is always a bonus.

I also loved Beyond Skin‘s vegetarian shoes. They have been around for a while but just had a revamp and are now known for the excellence of their design rather than ‘aren’t they good… for an ethical brand?’ faint praise.

Knitwear is making a big noise in London. Not only are the likes of Mark Fast and Louise Goldin hoovering up all the headlines but newcomers on the block, Cooperative Designs showed great innovation in their bobbly, pom-pom-y jumpers and sweater dresses. Off the runway, I liked Elizabeth Lau’s supersoft tromp l’oeil dresses, not to mention her kooky knitted sign!

When I dropped in on my friends at Buba, they were keen to show me their new babies – fur handbags. Did I mention fur has been everywhere this fashion week? “I don’t think anyone does accessories in fur. I have a big fur coat that I wear every winter and I wanted some gorgeous sexy fur bags to go with,” explained designer Lesley Silwood, making me stroke the bags to hammer her point home. I know a lot of people are anti-fur and I have made a pact not to buy any more fur but if I’m being honest I can see these selling like crazy.

Opposite Buba was the wonderful Mamie stand full of ‘reworked high-end vintage’. None of your shabby chic tat here, this is a supremely elegant clothing and jewellery line from the people who own the Paul & Joe boutiques in the UK.

I greatly enjoyed the whole day dedicated to mens fashion, especially Wednesday evening’s soiree at the E Tautz presentation (and not just due to the goody bag literally overflowing with Penhaligons products). In the intimate surroundings of the E Tautz shop in Savile Row, it was nice to wash down liquorice macaroons with a cocktail or ten while bonding with Christopher Kane over our shared love of Church’s shoes. (Trying to explain the concept of Twitter to him and sister Tammy on the other hand was a complete and utter waste of time.)

Trendwise, fashion fell into two distinct camps. On one hand we have the obsession with youth culture – TopShop Unique’s crusty clubbers and Charles Anastases’s youth tribes sloping down the catwalk and Luella doing an about-turn from last season’s prim net-veiled suits and returning to the rebellious teens we know and love. Hell, even Emporio Armani seemed to pick up the baton on the first day of Milan Fashion Week with his schoolgirl shorts and knee-high socks. The flipside is the predominance of grown-up silk dresses that make up the mainstay of collections by London’s new guard – Erdem, Mary Katrantzou, Marios Schwab et al. It’s great to see that younger labels like Peter Pilotto aren’t just interested in producing creations of the crazy headline-grabbing variety. There was a time when this was all London was known for but this season and last, the newer crop proved they can do innovative and commercial in equal quantities.

Having a menswear day thrown into the mix is a genius idea. As menswear and womenswear cross over more and more these days it’s a great way to pick up on styling ideas and trends that may not otherwise immediately present themselves. On the subject of trends, these are the ones coming through so far for AW09-10 on the basis of the London shows.

Club kids – Topshop’s disco-grunge, KTZ’s preppie-punks, Ashish’s Super Super overstyling

Dried blood lips – Nicole Farhi, Charles Anastase, Paul Smith

Abstract print – Peter Pilotto, Erdem

Mohair – Betty Jackson, Peter Pilotto, Missoni

Velvet – Betty Jackson , Christopher Kane, Danielle Scutt, Roksanda Ilincic, Louise Goldin, Luella, Mary Katrantzou

Twinsets – Christopher Kane, Sibling

Shoulder action – John Rocha, Nathan Jenden, Betty Jackson, Jaeger London, Twenty8Twelve, Julien MacDonald, Peter Pilotto

Tromp Loeil – Basso & Brook, Mary Katrantzou

Alpine – Ashish, Peter Jensen

Russian/Constructivist – Jaeger, Christopher Kane

Biker – Armand Basi One, Julien Macdonald

Dolls – Erdem, Roksanda Ilincic

Quiffs – Graeme Black, Armand Basi One

Plus the trends that refuse to die…

80s – Nathan Jenden, Richard Nicoll, Julien MacDonald

Tweed – Charles Anastase

50s – Betty Jackson, Jasper Conran

Bringing back the backpack

Adorning the shoulders of everyone from Kanye to Style Salvage Steve and Susie Bubble, there’s no doubt the backpack is making a comeback. Well that’s what I decided the minute I happened upon the new Eley Kishimoto x Eastpak range which is jollying up the Eastpak Carnaby Street store and window display right now. After an intensive trying-on sesh and grilling the poor (but extremely accomodating) shop staff for a good ten minutes I gleaned the following. The backpacks are printed in the now-iconic flash print (I have the flash print upholstered chair and am still gutted that I never bought the flash print Globetrotter suitcase) and cost a very reasonable £60. Each product is a limited edition of 1000 (I’m guessing that means 1000 in each colour – red, blue, black?) and comes with a special edition Eley Kishimoto Eastpak enamel pin.

Now what do you do if you don’t like backpacks? Well there’s a whole host of other flash-y stuff. There are messenger bags and small shoulder bags as well as pencil cases and wallets (although they are a bit ‘ouch’ at £50 each). There are also three skateboards retailing at £350.

I’m going back for mine on Saturday and will be rocking it all through fashion week as it will be perfect for my LG laptop and inevitable gathering of press packs, passes and general paraphernalia that tend to mount up throughout the days. Well done Eley Kishimoto and Eastpak, I think this is a perfect partnership.

More on trunk shows

Further to yesterday’s post, retail blogger Bish Shops alerted me to the following news on trunk shows:

Upscale retailer Neiman Marcus Group Inc is to set up special trunk shows and meetings with designers for its best customers in a bid to get them to buy new fashion items at full price.

Engaging Neiman’s core, wealthy customers are the retailer’s “best chance of turning the tide” of deep discounts that is drowning company profits, chief executive Burt Tansky said yesterday.

“The challenge that we have is to get the customer back into the store to buy at full price, because none of us can continue to sell at promotional prices and deep discounts,” Tansky told the National Retail Federation annual convention in New York. “First of all, there’s no advantage to it. Second of all it leads to hell … and it’s got to stop.”

Privately-held Neiman Marcus is testing several marketing ideas across its 40 signature stores, including bringing in groups of 20-30 shoppers for special events, Tansky said.

“We have a number of things going on and already we are starting to understand that our customer, the affluent customer, will come into the stores if we create the right environment,” he said. He noted that some clients said they felt uncomfortable “shopping ostentatiously… Our challenge is to break through that mindset”.

[Source: WGSN]