Thursday, 19 September 2013

London's on Fire for S/S14: Meadham Kirchhoff, Giles and Vivienne Westwood Red Label

The catwalk was set ablaze this season by three great designers in London, each with their own slightly different fan-base. Meadham Kirchhoff is the brainchild of two talented young upstarts with a suitably edgy following, Giles has his endless celebrity endorsements and  mainstream fans from his brilliant New Look diffusion line, and Vivienne Westwood's Red Label boasting its incredible price tags and customer elite sitting not-quite-comfortably alongside her protestations that we all cut down on the number of clothes we buy. Ahem.

Controversial comments aside, these three shows had a lot in common; they all showed models looking empowered and fiery, whether channeling the Lolita look or going for something significantly more dishevelled. 

 L-R: Meadham Kirchhoff, Giles and Vivienne Westwood Red Label showed expressive styles with fiery traits - lace bras, bat-like headpieces and fierce make-up coordinated with a masterclass in layering that shouldn't work but somehow totally does. [All images via].

Both Meadham Kirchhoff and Giles chose to braid the hair of their models, whilst at Westwood it was all left to hang out in glorious waves, as though just undone from its plaits. The colours may not have been glowing at all times, in fact they could be pretty muted occasionally, but the prints and draping created lashings of drama to help things along.

 The boys  at Meadham Kirchhoff brought us a gold-tinged vision of summer with the prospect of raiding the dressing-up box for those accessories. 

Red satin princess-style gloves: check. Edwardian jacket fresh out of Downton: check. Gold jacket from that 80s fancy dress night: check. Finish it all off with strappy gold shoes and a piercingly bright orange wig and you're good to go.

This is what I call Lolita meets Little House on the Prairie (with a touch of Wednesday Addams). The Meadham Kirchhoff woman isn't afraid to wear her inner child on her sleeve, but that doesn't mean you should mess with her. She mixes decades and patterns better than you, and she can also drink you under the table.

 After reappropriating famous paintings and working with beautifully burned fabrics to set the mood of a smouldering country pile, Giles Deacon has finally created his own relics using these moody photographic prints by Glen Luchford.

There's a brilliant behind-the-scenes studio piece on Giles fresh on the Grazia website right now, explaining loads more about the creative process behind this collection. Amazingly, Giles spotted the photos being posted on Instagram by Luchford, many of them previously unpublished, and he was able to use them in the designs. There's an interesting cross-over with Prada here, as some of the pieces in the collection use prints from Glen's test shots for a Prada campaign back in 1997. 

What I love about the shapes of this part of the collection is that they flatter most figures and don't seek to exploit the women wearing the pieces. There's that all-important draping and forgiving volume that allows you to breathe underneath, rather than be constrained.

Westwood's combination of Pre-Raphaelite hair and distressed layers of clothing with slight Victorian and Edwardian nods (braces, muted florals, sharp masculine tailoring) was totally absorbing.

Being a Vivienne Westwood show, there were always going to be elements of punk spirit tied into all of this extravagance; the Climate Revolution t-shirts and the childish doodling of the make-up certainly added to that, along with the vertiginous multi-strap heels, but having Lily Cole steal the show in a beautifully simplistic and feminine beige dress made sure that this collection would be remembered for its balance of anger with feminine wiles. Trust Westwood to make beige look empassioned instead of bland. 

These three designers definitely lit up the catwalk for me, and they made a strong impact. I'll be watching out for the high street's interpretation of these looks.


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