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London Fashion Week 2003:


London fashion week is not known for its Armani or Prada, but you can always rely on the more interesting established designers like Julian Macdonald and Betty Jackson as well as many of London’s cutting edge new and newish fashionistas. This didn’t mean that the shows were busy, in fact they were noticeably quiet this year. Maybe the pressure on fashion houses to get seasons out earlier and earlier leaves us uninspired, in September only really thinking of which winter coat to buy.
This long hot summer seems to have had an affect on many designers, with barely-there chiffons and colours all summery and bright filling the runways. Although that’s not to say that there wasn’t any subtlety. With the 20s being a huge influence, girls looked pretty in simple drop waist shifts, hardened with the occasional leather belt and jacket. And we’re not talking the tans of last summer bags. No, this is biker leather. And leather indeed was an unsuspected player on the summer catwalks for men and women, with Nicole Fahri deconstructing her usual urban floatiness with strong leather belts and biker jackets. While Preen, although avoiding the prevalent 20s theme with urban sports/utility wear, strapped boys and girls in leather jackets and trousers. This contrasted quite dramatically to their soft tans and white, origami –style short dresses and cycling shorts, although the line was still androgynous.
Emma Cook, who this year proved she is no longer the new kid on the block with her most sophisticated collection yet, was inspired like many others, by the Art Deco of the 1920s. The runway contained deep neck – lines and tailored yet pretty shifts. In keeping with this autumn’s tailoring, cook’s style has hardened with striking hot yellows and deep burgundy and the odd splurge of leather.
Although the hemlines weren’t as predominantly short as last summer, there seemed to be more flesh on show. Obviously a lot of designers, such as FrostFrench and Gharani Strok are hoping for another tropical summer. The latter mixed the 20s with 70s sky blues and splash-printed chiffons and embroided silks all soft and light and ready for those hot summer evenings. With many designers, skirt lengths were still on the short-side, but the real winner were shorts; long ones, baggy ones. The delightful cycling kind and very short shorts were everywhere. Perhaps saving us from those embarrassing celebrity car exits we so often see in the pages of Now magazine.
The real designer to keep an eye on is Jonathan Saunders who won this years, New Generation Award. Saunders, who keeps popping up in such fashion bibles as Self Service and I-D, was signed up first by Christian Lacroix as the consultant for the revamp of their Pucci line, going on to produce prints for McQueen and Chloe, and now has launched his own label. Prints were still bold, but the silhouette was more fitted and structured than his autumn show. Again the 80s featured (when will it ever leave us), although it was a nice break from the frocks of other designers.
Let’s just say, don’t cancel your gym membership just yet. Again we see a body conscious summer with fitted outfits and short dresses akin. But this year, it’s a little less tame. With Sophia Koksalaki’s ruched block coloured chiffons and Clements Ribeiro’s simple four leaf clover print dresses inspired by Wallis Simpson, you can go for the summer goddess or the 20s aristo on the Riviera. And with colours bright and tropical or clean sherberty shades of tan and pink, expect a pretty summer.

Rebecca Harris


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