London shows sheer style for spring 2011
It has been half a decade since Jaeger began its regeneration under boss Harold Tillman and in that time it has been transformed from a stodgy heritage brand, bought primarily by county types in pearls and Hunter wellies, to Jaeger London, a dazzling, iconic and perfectly on-trend British fashion label.
At a packed runway show on the final day of London Fashion Week, before an audience that included Pixie Lott and Rachel Stevens, designer Stuart Stockdale showed his spring/summer 2011 collection deliciously updating the Jaeger ‘60s archive. Think little trapezeshape tops over narrow pants, wide palazzos teamed with silk tees, and a series of flawless A-line shifts, some sleeveless , many with bracelet-length sleeves. Other immaculate and infinitely wearable pieces included a series of sharply geometric blazers, a half-sleeve trench coat in light navy with asymmetric hem, a slouchy parka in sumptuous butter yellow and sweet shorts in suede and silk.
Dexterously mixing silk gazar, organza, silk shantung, canvas, butter-soft suede and perforated leather, he added macramé for a stunning, drop-dead simple maxi dress and a perfect tee. It was all executed in a palette of the season’s favourite colours (raspberry and rose, light and dark navy, emerald and teal) and best neutrals (nude, ivory, buttermilk, black and white), sparked by occasional splashes of rose or grey print.
Layering was a strong theme at Nicole Farhi, who showed to an equally packed house at her regular venue, the Royal Opera House. Unaccountably, Team Nicole decided to try the “edgy” arrangement of seating the audience (press, buyers and celebs) in the centre looking out, while the models paraded around them. The difficulty is that a model is in your sightline for — literally — about three seconds; if you blink or have your head down doing something as quaintly old-fashioned as making notes, you can miss an entire outfit. And often your view of the model’s bottom half is blocked, even from the second row, which makes it impossible to see a dress length or whether trousers are palazzo or straight.
That apart, Farhi’s offering for spring 2011 was competent, at times glamorous and occasionally truly desirable. A sinuously beautiful shift dress with pleats was executed in both lemon and a gorgeously flattering coral pink. Then came a flawless halter-neck dress in pale lime, a sheer silk gazar jacket in palest grey layered over palazzo pants and an impeccably cut trouser suit in buttermilk satin with ‘70s-style long blazer and wide pants.
Farhi’s layering of sheer fabric over print gave a fresh twist to simple shifts, but some gimmicks, such as blue patent panels on an otherwise wearable trench coat and a taste-free lamé skirt plus blue stripey sweater, seemed designed to give her credibility with the Topshop crowd rather than please her devotees.
The Farhi customer will crave much of the collection for evening- and resort-wear. But the perfect suit, dress or jacket for the city in summer was strangely absent and may force her loyal clientele to look elsewhere (to Jaeger London, for instance).
Louise Goldin, who used the audience-as-spectacle style of seating at her autumn/winter show last February, eschewed a catwalk show altogether, showing a “summary” of her s/s 11 collection on rails at the St Martin’s Lane Hotel.
Goldin, primarily a knitwear designer, used clever texturing in her offerings for summer, blending horizontal panels of sheer and opaque for a quirkily charming collection of skinny maxi skirts, three-quarter sleeve maxi dresses, abbreviated minis and clever little cropped sweaters with a strange train of fabric falling down the front. All of which will appeal to her perfect client, namely the Pixie wannabees (Lott and Geldof) of the world.
Elizabeth Emanuel unveiled her latest Art of Being collection on Tuesday night, mostly designed as lens-candy for the photographers. Her limitless talent will, it seems, be revealed only to those who ignore the images and head to her London atelier instead.