Report by Sasha Wilkins, founder of libertylondongirl.com. Photography by catwalking.com
The Berardi woman is in no doubt about her power, and knows how to dress to maximise it. I suspect she also takes a lot of taxis. This season her wardrobe has a tougher edge. There are plenty of Berardi trademarks – an immaculate second-skin cut, a waisted silhouette and beautiful lace inserts – but she is more covered up and, if she’s revealing skin, it’s in a different kind of erogenous zone: the top of a shoulder, through large metal rivets or between leather laces. However, while her urban compadres are flatfooting it in brogues, she’s still marching in fierce stilettos. Berardi’s clothes have a lot of impact – a scarlet pantsuit socks you between the eyes – but are always worth a second look. There are lovely plays on texture: the sleeveless knit with chain inserts over a billow of silk chiffon is especially good, and a grey wool biker jacket over a bias-cut slither of black dévoré is heavenly.
Erdem Moralioglu loves an interesting mise-en-scène, and for three seasons he has installed himself – and the highly curated contents of a furniture warehouse – in the Old Selfridges Hotel. AW16 found us in early-20th-century Hollywood, with fallen chandeliers and faded grandeur. Inspiration came from Oliver Messel’s stylised film and theatre sets, and the English actress Gertrude Lawrence, who never made the cut in Hollywood. “I love this idea of trying to be something else,” he said backstage. “I have this idea of a group of girls getting ready for an audition, putting together a 20s dress, a 30s slip dress and 40s tailoring.” That translated to a series of ravishing dresses (and the odd tailleur) that were period in feel, mid-calf or longer, but designed for a powerful modern woman who can absolutely wear a mini leg-o’-mutton sleeve without looking too jeune fille.
After their show, Christopher de Vos and Peter Pilotto gestured at an exquisite long dress with delicate chenille embroideries and described “the idea of a landscape progressing through the fabrics”. Their collection took a winding route through glacial climes, pulled along, as they said, “by a thread of Nordic symbolism”. Against a silver-foiled runway, that manifested itself in complex embroideries and a mountain print. “Ice was a key word we used when choosing fabric and embellishments,” they said, and this was most evident in a strong jacquard coat, a silvered peplum and a rippling shoulder-cut satin blouse. Hair jewels have been prominent this week, notably at Alexander McQueen and Erdem; and Peter Pilotto’s, from the pair’s new Atelier Swarovski collaboration, were especially beautiful, inspired by mechanical artworks and the molecules of nature.
Osman has made tailoring, clean lines and architectural shapes the cornerstones of his label’s aesthetic, but this season he added florals. And not just any florals: exquisite scarlet poppies were splashed across a San Gallo-lace drop-waist dress and a statement ballgown, and embroidered on an excellent parka. “It came from my paintings and drawings,” he told us backstage. “I’ve never really done florals before, apart from a leaf print for Pre.” Of course, there were other things to admire in a collection that, we were told, drew from both the floppy bows, Pierrot collars and shorts suits of Little Lord Fauntleroy and the attitude of the 80s Buffalo movement. That contrast was evident in soft velvets (notably a grey slim-fitting coat), and sleek leathers, including a slashed peekaboo skirt and a grown-on waistband attached to a sweeping black merino-wool skirt that was just perfect.