LONDON (AFP) - British design whiz kid Jonathan Anderson led the charge on the second day of London Fashion Week Saturday with a celebration of individualism that fused inspirations including the natural world, the military and Far-Eastern tradition.
British fashion mainstays Jasper Conran and Julien McDonald had earlier set the tone with shows that mixed the spectacular with the sensible, but it was 2015 designer of the year Anderson who was the hottest ticket in town.
The 30-year-old Northern Ireland designer, renowned for his innovative creations, played on recurring motifs in his autumn/winter 2016 collection, which was unveiled under the close gaze of Vogue chief Anna Wintour and British It-Girl Alexa Chung.
Anderson, creator of the J.W.Anderson label, made repeated use of leather cowls unzipped over the shoulders, A-line tops, skirts with upturned rubber tricolour hems and chiffon sleeves that billowed at the elbow to produce the distinctive angular silhouettes for which he has become celebrated.
Each seat along the narrow winding catwalk had a card carrying a quote from late interior designer David Hicks, which read: “The excitement of today is the freedom of the individual to make his own choice and the vast range of possibilities from which he may choose.”
Anderson expressed the maxim by exploring a wide range of textiles and influences in the collection, which included Japanese kimonos reimagined in heavy materials, rock ‘n’ roll leather-and-studs and nature-inspired skirts, comprised of fragile material petals.
Other themes included studded flowers, quilted leather jackets, dazzling shoes covered in reflective diamond-shaped scales, shocking neon paired with two-tone dresses and militaristic olive-drab underneath fur hoodies.
The use of fur caused headlines Friday when nearly-naked animal-rights protesters gate-crashed the event's opening.
Earlier Saturday, Julien McDonald added a dash of flamboyance to London Fashion Week with an explosion of sequins and feathers inside a deconsecrated, gothic church in central London.
Other works included skin-tight jumpsuits, disco-inspired silver dresses and sweeping floor length gowns.
The Welsh designer also revealed a sneak preview of his new childrenswear collection, which is set to hit the high street within months.
Jasper Conran presented a more classical collection, marked by bold prints and traditional tailoring.
The 56-year old revealed he had taken inspiration from architecture and art, reflected in the collection’s clean lines and symmetry.
Highlights on Sunday include grand dame of British fashion Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith, High Street giant Topshop Unique and the homecoming of iconic label Alexander McQueen after a decade away.
British fashion and leather goods brand Mulberry, under the direction of new creative director Johnny Coca, is also returning to the London catwalk for the first time since 2013.
Many of the shows will be streamed live across Britain on 60 outdoor screens, including a giant one in London's Piccadilly Circus, reaching a potential audience of 35 million, according to organizers.
The event was once considered the poor relation of the international fashion circuit, but its rise has tracked Britain’s growing fashion industry, which now supports almost 800,000 jobs.
Sales of womenswear in Britain hit 27 billion pounds ($38.5 billion) in 2015, a figure predicted to grow 23 percent by 2020.