#SuzyLFW: Keeping The Feathers Flying

There is something ironic – in the true meaning of this much-abused word – that just as London-based designers have reached out over a decade to a worldwide clientele, that easy internationalism is being rocked by the prospect of Brexit.

‘Ironic’ too, that at a time when, with financial and political unease, the partying seems likely to slow down or even stop – just when there have never seemed to be so many designers embracing surface sheens and fluffy feathers.

Is this the 1920s’ frantic gaiety all over again? Or is it that the events market is unstoppable, particularly from the Middle East, India and any country with a tradition of long, lavish wedding celebrations?

Roksanda

From night-to-day, across golden sand – those were the steps taken by Roksanda’s models along the show’s ever-changing pathway.

It started with a dream of glamour – the similar puffy dresses that have appeared in burnt orange, yellow, vivid blue or patterned, billowing all over London Fashion Week. Roksanda’s were particular because of the colours, her favoured shade of orange, mixed with yellow, vivid blue, pink – or even a patterned version in those hot shades.

After the heat came the cooldown. Ruffling gowns morphed into sporty and dynamic outfits, with the colours fading to beige (a favourite shade of the winter 2019 season).

Roksanda knows how to think big. And she seemed to own the territory, whereas other designers across the world, from Marc Jacobs in New York to those at recent London shows, look as though the whooshing, puffball dresses are following Valentino’s lead.

Another element which is of the moment is feathers. And Roksanda’s use of fluttering and wispy decoration made a nice standoff with her streamlined elegance.

Peter Pilotto

It was hard not to feel elated at the exuberance of Peter Pilotto. As a couple who embraced colour and pattern from their career outset, the namesake designer and Christopher de Vos were on form – but under control.

After last season’s wild night out at Trader Vic’s, this show was in the graceful grandeur of the Reform Club in London’s Pall Mall. The clients who filled the front rows looked approvingly at the silvered sheen and fluffs of feather that decorated ‘occasion’ clothes, that included stretched wool jumpsuits as a sporty glamour.

The inspiration was Hungarian ceramics from the Zsolnay company. And though I am a little doubtful at turning hard China into soft clothes, the designs looked like a fresh take on the 1970s.

Where the duo scored was with the third dimension, as feathers might act like a soft wave breaking over a gown. But for all the cheerful patterns and overall iridescence, the most striking pieces were in pleated satin in olive green and shell pink, pouring over the body with an unexpected softness.

Mary Katrantzou

Mary Katrantzou quoted in her long show notes words from her native Greece, those of ancient Greek philosopher Empedocles who defined matter as made up of earth, air, fire and water.

Those essential elements were top of her list of energetic colours used for ruffles and especially feathers.

Far from the complexity of her on-paper introduction, talking about the universe of ‘primordial singularity’, the fashion message seemed clear: ostrich feathers wavering on just about everything.

A rainbow coalition brought quivering feathers in vivid shades such as lemon yellow, sunrise orange and sunshine purple. More colour? Try the fluffy feathers in bright turquoise. The designer romanticised the more subtle shades by talking of the ‘ombre’ effects evoking dawn and dusk, compressed into the tailoring.

Her knowledge of the macro photography of fissures in the earth was translated into clothes as complex jacquard, leather intarsia knits and embroideries twinkling with Swarovski crystal.

It is to Mary’s credit that she has learned to compress all her deep knowledge into something comprehensive, even apparently simple. Maybe there could have been an extended area of the simpler, slimline clothes. But this is genuine high fashion. And the designer deserves admiration for building a business from her beliefs to an international clients base.