’Tis the season to be sheer

Sunday 16 September 2012


Report by David Hayes

“When I was researching this collection, I came across an image of a Madame Vionnet dress from the Thirties that had overlapping layers of sheer,” said designer Sheila McKain-Waid backstage, after her ultra-modernist Daks outing. “I love the effect of transparent and opaque, where the two lines meet.”

McKain-Waid isn’t alone in her love of transparency this season: no longer merely a tabloid photo op, it’s a new way to add softness and an unexpected layer of volume. The trend started in New York with Alexander Wang’s stark monochrome collection, dissected by sheer inserts and threads of wide-open fagotting. “We wanted the garments to float on the girls, but not in an ethereal way – always keeping the structure,” Wang told US Vogue’s Hamish Bowles.”

“Sheer layers are an interesting way to add coverage without necessarily being covered, just hinting at the flesh underneath,” said Maria Grachvogel, whose show opened with white transparent layers floating over an opaque body-con silhouette. “Sheer layers add luminescence and lightness.”

Not surprisingly, the new generation of Asian designers are embracing the trend, nodding to a typically Eastern take on volume. Huishan Zhang played with wafts of lace and floating panels of organza in his Chinese-inspired collection. “There is such a beauty in lightness,” he said, post-presentation.

As for Korean-born Eudon Choi, he showed “layers of embroidered organza” in his presentation on Friday. “The key element was the use of texture, but without losing that lightness,” he explained.

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