#SuzyLFW: Roland Mouret and Jasper Conran – Lasting Power
With celebrities hogging the front rows and journalist from across the world filling up the seats, it has become rare for fashion designers to show their cards – or, rather, their clothes – to genuine clients. But two designers had followers – those crucial paying supporters – to cheer on their autumn/winter 2018 collections.
Roland Mouret: Controlled sensuality
Michelle Dockery, forever associated with Downton Abbey, but currently performing in Network at the National Theatre, was front row when Roland Mouret come to show his fashion in her territory. She joined actress Dakota Blue Richards, star of The Golden Compass, and other budding performing artists as well as known influencers.
The entire audience was given a signal early in the show: a red and white band at the top of semi-see-through socks – like a hazard warning about looking up the slit on a wine red velvet suit.
A sexual stop point? Really? Maybe it was not as literal as it seemed. Yet, in this collection, Mouret really seemed to have put subtle limits on sexual allure in changing times.
In his original Galaxy dresses of 13 years ago, the curving female figure was the starting point. Now there were many different kinds of attraction, from the concealing cloak to the sleek trouser suit, or a solid vest worn over a lacy top half. Everything seemed to have elements of sensuality, but all under control.
This, of course, was at the decision of the wearer, who could choose the fluffy femininity of a pink jacket over a lace dress, or shiny leather jacket as a cover up. The cloak played its role, with one flung wide open to reveal frilly underwear. It was all about a woman’s right to decide not just what she wears, but how she wears it. The one constant was the socks, sending out a particular message.
Jasper Conran: Colour, artistry and arctic wear
Where did he find those colours? Every show note for Jasper Conran’s presentation was in a different pack, in magenta, purple, yellow or green colours. And on the runway, among the deep navy blue, popped sunshine yellow, rose pink, grass green and orange – with some of these vibrant shades in twos or threes breaking up the streamlined outfits.
“Howard Hodgkin, Ellsworth Kelly,” said Jasper backstage, starting a line of colour-obsessed artists, although I felt that the vivid shades of North Africa, where the designer has a hotel in Marrakesh, must have filtered though his inspiration.
“And navy blue cashmere – I should never be left alone with a roll of it, but I like arctic stuff,” the designer continued.
The result was a navy funnel-neck sweater, jacket and long pleated skirt – streamlined winter wear that started the show. Although some brands claim we all now have multi-seasonal wardrobes, this is clearly not the case with Jasper’s clients, who were banked in rows at Claridge’s hotel. They ticked off on the programmes the well-cut coats and dresses, geometrically sliced, and the pleated dress falling in blocks of colour to the ankle.
This kind of reality check enhances the reach of London fashion, where graduating fashion school designers may push fashion boundaries, but a pioneer like Jasper Conran has lasted because he understands women’s desires and needs.