LONDON (AP) ― What to wear to London Fashion Week? The hottest designer heels, the latest fall jacket ― or perhaps a tech accessory like Google Glass.
Hundreds of models, stylists and fashion insiders descended on the British capital Friday as the five-day whirlwind of catwalk shows kicked off, bringing the usual heady mix of glamor, parties and beautiful people.
This season, however, organizers are also focusing on pairing technology with fashion, launching a series of talks and projects with Google to help British-based designers go digital.
The aim is for London to be “the most tech-savvy fashion capital in the world,” according to British Fashion Council chairman Natalie Massenet, who paired up with Google’s U.K. sales director Peter Fitzgerald to launch the fashion week.
Fyodor Golan’s Spring/Summer 2015 collection. (AP-Yonhap)
Designers have been using social media and the Internet to help drive sales and consumer interest for several years. More and more brands are live-stream their fashion shows, with some allowing fans worldwide to buy designs off their website immediately after models showed them off on the catwalk.
Massenet wants to do more. This week fast-fashion giant Topshop is to share its latest collection with Facebook and Instagram followers before the clothes even hit the catwalk, and Twitter is introducing a new “buy” button for Burberry.
There will even be a human cyborg joining a digital fashion talk during the week.
There’s no telling whether the emphasis on tech in fashion is more than a gimmick or a passing phase. Meanwhile, beautifully made clothes, worn by models in real life, remain the main draw. The week features some 60 catwalk shows and presentations by 170 designers, from powerhouses like Paul Smith, Tom Ford and Vivienne Westwood to younger names such as Christopher Kane and Erdem.
Highlights from Day 1 and 2:
Comfort dressers rejoice: The trend for sporty chic looks like it’s here to stay.
Young designer Christopher Raeburn sent his models down the catwalk in loose shirt-dresses, jogging pants, shorts, sweatshirts and matching rucksacks, all in a relaxed, easy-to-wear fit.
The models looked far from slovenly, though, thanks to stylish details such as organza panels, lacing and unusual prints featuring meteorological maps and weather patterns. Fighter pilot suits were reworked into luxury jackets, and lightweight rain parkas came in bright pink and beautiful spring shades.
There wasn’t a high heel anywhere ― models wore Velcro-strap flat sandals that looked like Tevas, the hardy shoe beloved of hikers.
With those shoes and such functional clothes, the models could almost be going on a trek ― albeit a very glamorous one.
Rubber boots and glamour don’t generally mix ― but they do at London Fashion Week.
The brand, which has only recently branched out into clothing, packed in the crowds with a fun and slick display of sporty casualwear at a disused indoor pool. There was no swimming, but a giant video backdrop simulating turquoise waters, complete with floating submarines and cartoon sharks, made up for it.
The show was held up for about half an hour by the VIPs ― celebrity father-and-daughter duo Paul and Stella McCartney arrived late, causing a stir as they squeezed in the front row next to pop star Rita Ora and Vogue editor Anna Wintour. The brand is headed by Stella McCartney’s husband Alasdhair Willis.
Boots, of course, featured prominently. Signature wellies, worn by both male and female models, came with buckles and were printed in eye-catching color blocks. There were also flat sandals and army boots, some with chunky platform heels.
Models sported rain jackets, parkas, shorts and culottes ― many in low-key military greens and browns, though outfits in bright turquoise, lavender and graphic stripes provided a burst of color and style.
The McCartneys didn’t draw attention to themselves, probably not wishing to upstage the show. The former Beatle appeared cheerful, posing with his daughter and smiling mischievously for the cameras.
Did he like the show? “Terrific,” he said with a grin, before being whisked away by his security guards.
Forget less is more. London’s fashionistas, usually all for cool and edgy chic, indulged in Marchesa’s elaborate, luxuriously detailed creations as the U.S. brand made its London debut to mark its 10th anniversary.
Designers Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig showed off cocktail dresses and floor-sweeping gowns in their signature feminine style. There were sheer black numbers with pink floral embellishments, romantic slip dresses, sensual fringe skirts, and miles of lace, silk and tulle. The collection featured more than a touch of Bohemian chic too, with the off-shoulder necklines, puffed up sleeves and tier detailing.
An ethereal, bridal-like tulle ball gown that looked like a cloud of candy floss floating down the catwalk had guests swooning, while the closing number, a sheer confection studded with dozens of realistic looking flowers and topped with a floral crown, wouldn’t look out of place in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
For her new spring and summer collection, Wickstead has created elegant, understated ball gowns fit for a modern princess.
The young designer, who boasts a glitzy client list including the Duchess of Cambridge and Hollywood actress Diane Kruger, is known for her feminine and prim evening wear. It’s little wonder she is so popular. Many of the gowns on display were showstoppers, with unfussy lines and minimal detail that let the cut and the block colors ― sunshine yellow, tangerine, nude and orange sorbet ― speak for themselves.
Wickstead said she took inspiration from the “glitzy ’80s,” but there’s little sign of the excesses from that decade in the collection. One model floated down the dramatic staircase in a canary yellow full skirt, made casual by its pockets and a simple white sleeveless top. There were voluminous evening gowns, made cool with subtle nautical stripes, and shimmering silver column dresses that looked structural and clean.
Orla Kiely’s show was all about retro fun and flower power.
The designer, best known for her colorful leaf and branch graphic prints, showcased floral prints on almost everything: Smock dresses, wide-leg trousers, capri pants and even on the shoes. Outfits like a printed crop top and matching shorts, and tote bags featuring a single giant sunflower, had guests longing for a summer vacation.
The collection couldn’t be more cheerful, with its palette of cornflower blue, lemon yellow and shades of pink. Models marched around, merry-go-round style, on a stage dotted with flower pots, and each “planted” an oversized plastic flower as they walked by.
Kiely’s whimsical style is ever consistent, even down to the food offerings for guests ― mini cupcakes, adorned with pastel flowers.