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London: Fashion Fever in Soho

20150923

The 62nd London Fashion Week took place in a new venue this year: the Brewer Street Car Park in the middle of Soho, the lively hotspot in London’s West End. The numbers speak for themselves: 78 designers were tightly packed onto the programme. 5,000 visitors went to the shows. An estimated 30,000 espressi were sipped, 237 kilos of soya yoghurt scoffed and with 350,000 tweets having been sent, there must have been at least a few cases of RSI…  
Vivienne Westwood Red Label Vivienne Westwood runs one of the last independent, international fashion labels. The days when Westwood’s fashion caused a stir may have passed, but her creative and entrepreneurial steeliness have not. Her personal focus has shifted from being a fashion designer to an opinion leader. In the former role, she really has nothing left to prove. Every piece in her collection is eye-catching, effortlessly astonishing, occasionally unsettling and never negligible. “Fracking is a crime!” Westwood told the guests to her show on posters and banners. It was a continuation of her protest from the week before, when she drove a tank past Prime Minister David Cameron’s country house. Pugh Gareth Pugh’s homage to Soho’s wildest era seems quite odd. In the 70s and 80s, Soho was synonymous with fetish and sex shops, a stomping ground for drag queens and prostitutes, but that was also when it established its reputation as a neighbourhood where artists liked to hang out. Pugh wrapped women in nylon tights and painted them with make-up like the band members of Kiss. Then combined that with latex, wigs and long talons. He, too, seems to be calling for protest: against the conformism of the new millennium. Mary Katrantzou Big bang patterns. Katrantzou’s designs have become a psychedelic trip. They glitter and gleam, and when you look at the flowing creations you feel as though you’re on the Starship Enterprise shortly after warp drive has started: space warps and stars shoot past like colourful arrows at superluminal speeds. Peter Pilotto The Austrian who stirs up the catwalks together with Christopher de Vos presented his first footwear collection this year: for fans of high heels and flats. Nothing new under the sun The old adage “There’s nothing new under the sun” rings true for some of the old-established labels. Burberry Prorsum brought lots of lace and even an entire orchestra, complete with the singer Alison Moyet, to the show. Despite being helped by state-of-the-art technology – Burberry has its own music channel on Apple (thanks to its former boss having moved to the IT giant) – there appears to have been a technical fault part way through the restart of the collection. There are shirts and skirts at Daks, openwork and knitted dresses at Pringle of Scotland – understated to the point of boredom. Ultra-Londoner Paul Smith has been in the business for 45 years and is still a free agent – no corporation has yet managed to buy him out. Maybe that’s because Smith remains true to his mission of designing extravagant but comfortable pieces. Hunter has tried to capture the attitude to life at (rain-swept) music festivals and even had their models stomp through authentic, steaming mud. As ever, Hindmarch sought for smiles, this time by conjuring patterns for bags and textiles out of the Carrefour supermarket logo. New in London: Versus, Versace’s diffusion line. Anthony Vaccarello made his debut as Creative Director.
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