Well dharlings… here we are again. A/W12 and if there’s one thing London does well it’s Autumn and Winter. So, as usual we’re planning our wardrobes six months in advance, but I’m having a style sulk and absolutely refuse to wear anything other than jeans, t-shirt and comfy shoes over the next few days. Anyway, this has turned out to be a very clever idea because I can walk around Somerset House without being stopped every five minutes by fashion bloggers with cameras and, because I look like crew, it’s really easy to slip backstage for a little look around.
First up was Felder Felder who are continuing to bring back grunge – amen – but it’s gone a bit softer, more flirty and feminine. There’s metallic-gold disco glamour mixed with some 20s drop-waists and fringe. The colour palette is similar too; umber, gold, orange, black, navy and brown with tie-dyeish prints. Oh, and swimsuits, so perhaps this is an A/W collection for those who use winter as a verb.
PPQ were on their bikes, which is apparently the first time bikes have been used at LFW – hold the front page guys. I would have loved it if they were Boris bikes, but I suppose that would never do. As for the collection, well this is how we do A/W in London. We’re talking high glamour; mid-century modern silhouettes, rich heavy fabrics, swathes of tartan mohair and those lovely bell sleeves. Elegance was the name of the game, but a bit of light-hearted fun was added with the jewel-encrusted tights under leotards. Oh, and at least one model with breasts. How super.
With that I legged it to the press bus to get to Basso and Brooke who have produced a very grown-up collection this season. Inspired by Matisse, it fuses retro prints of all shapes and sizes, and spanning a fair few decades. Some have been blown up under a microscope and given quite a formal set of tailoring on which to rest, including buttoned up collars, wide and draped lapels and a bit of 80s power, interesting when set against the equally busy but entirely different decadence of Goldsmith’s Hall. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a collection that manages to be so indulgent in terms of print, and so simple in terms of tailoring.
Chatting to the pair after the show I was curious to know exactly how many prints they’d managed to cram in this season. The answer is 60 plus and they’ve worked with neoprene which is a sort of rubber-backed jersey; heavy, bouncy and rather challenging to work with according to Bruno. I also managed to catch up with Namalee Bolle who has just been announced Creative Director of Basso and Brooke after working closely with them as their stylist for seven years. Namalee is the nu-rave renaissance woman and muse who captured the duo’s hearts when they were the pioneers of digital print in fashion. Their first collaboration saw them win the first Sunday Times Style competition and now they are a “little Basso and Brooke family”. She describes how they’ve taken the print in a different direction this season because “Bruno’s trying to excite himself again with these prints.” And it seems to have worked.
What of the stylist’s role? Namalee describes it as that of a diplomat, especially when working with a duo; “I don’t think they’re normal, in terms of designers, to work with. I’ve learnt to understand the language of Basso and Brooke, but it’s taken a while.” It’s actually been a very natural progression to the new role of Creative Director and as she describes it, that made a lot of sense. Finally I wanted to know where we go in print now, how do we move print forward. Well, that’s what Basso and Brooke have tried to address this season with what she describes as, “future retro.”
Last stop of the day is the Central St Martins show which is always great, but I always forget how long it is and half way through realise that my dinner partner is waiting in a restaurant over in Soho. There were some very interesting collections, and some rather forgettable, but in my opinion winner Luke Brooks stole the show. He was actually joint winner with Craig Green who I’m going to dub the fashion architect, but it was Brooks that did it for me with his halo headdresses letting us know that we are God in all our falling-to-pieces, messy wonder.
My patient dinner partner was very understanding when I showed up 40 minutes late and London-traffic-stressed, saying, “You can’t rush fashion.” This is my first LFW A/W12 lesson.
Vanessa Austin Locke