1) Christopher Kane
Touted as the reason why big international buyers and editors still come to London Fashion Week (when most big Brit designers have eloped to Paris and Milan), 26 year old Kane has built an extraordinary reputation for himself in just a few years. In our eyes, he can do little wrong (even if this collection was somewhat less exciting and vibrant than previous ones), particularly with regard to his now-trademark, incredible structured dresses. And given that his SS09 dresses recently sold out within moments of their arrival at Browns and Net-a-Porter, despite their high prices and current economic woes, it seems we're not the only ones who agree.
2) Richard Nicoll
We enjoyed the sci-fi elements of Nicoll's collection (which had a definite hint of Nicolas Ghesquière at Balenciaga about it, although it still felt fresh in its own right), and the very close garment construction, with strong emphasis on piping (which sometimes brought to mind a rather sinister psychiatric nurse from the future). It was also interesting to see the subversive, bondage elements (the small straps and fastenings, the masks, the cut-outs and general body restraint) played out against such a light colour pallet. Overall, a strong collection which we liked.
Following Luella's very strong SS09 showing, of great tailoring in vibrant colours, we had high hopes that the brand might be going in an interesting new direction (while continuing its seemingly core role of supplying pretty-party-dresses-with-attitude to the increasingly over-exposed coterie of London 'It' girls, like Daisy Lowe, Alexa Chung, and the Geldofs), but this collection had us confused as to what the message or direction was and, visually, we found it somewhat unappealing.
4) Marios Schwab
Marios Schwab's unusual (and unpromising sounding) starting point of exploring geological expansion (when rocks and crystals crack open under environmental stresses - sounds terrifingly like school geography..), actually translated into a very sound collection, which we enjoyed a lot. The only false note came at the end of the show when two enormous fluffy fur coats, one in red, another in blue, incongruous with the rest of the collection, were sent down the runway - almost as an unnecessary last-ditch attempt to make an otherwise slightly summery feeling collection look more autumn/winter like.
We found it hard to extract any overall cohesive message or look from the Giles show, but in a way Giles Deacon is one of those designers where it doesn't really matter, and you just go with the flow. It had the sinister edge which has characterised a lot of his work, with spikes, dark colours, and copious use of fur (which almost turned some of the models into wild beasts). We loved Stephen Jones' flying saucer hats, and the sci-fi shine that crept in at times - overall, a strong, if random, collection which we liked (ridiculous egg-with-a-bobble-on-top outfit notwithstanding...)
Erdem Moralioglu is a rising star on the London fashion scene, known for his skillful way with colour and floral patterns. The way Erdem gives an edge to pattern, particularly floral, and makes it seem modern and relevant is indeed something to behold - US Vogue have even lauded him as a potential "Christian Lacroix of London".
7) Meadham Kirchhoff
Designers Ed Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff's latest collection may not jump out at you and say 'WOW' (indeed understatement seems to be the name of the game, just occasionally verging on dullness), but there were definitely interesting elements: the well-done bomber/motorcycle jackets, the subtly frayed edges, the gold rococo embellishments that cleverly manage to look subtle, the occasional mannish tailoring and fits, the deconstruction.. We really enjoyed these touches, but felt overall it could have been much more of a knock-out collection had there been a more cohesive feel overall, and more energy present.
8) Julien Macdonald
Despite a stint as creative director of Givenchy (post Alexander McQueen, pre Riccardo Tisci), recently Julien Macdonald has almost completely dropped off the high fashion radar, having been overly associated with dressing celebrities in a rather tacky 'bling' style. Now, with a new financial backer, he's aiming to change all that. His latest collection still has a very high dose of the high-octane glamour, more often associated with Milan collections (to the extent that it didn't feel at all like a London collection - far too shiny, not nearly offbeat enough!), but it should keep his original fans happy. At the same time, there were more interesting design touches too like the wide rock chick shoulders, which should help to add a greater design integrity.
9) Charles Anastase
Having excited us last season with his SS09 collection, and having returned to showing in London after several seasons in Paris, we had high hopes for Anastase, but frankly this collection was all over the place. Heavily redolent of 90s grunge, Anastase claimed the collection was not nostalgic, but rather an autobiographical exploration of his adolescent customisation of second-hand, charity shop clothes. There was a lot of energy, and you could probably pick out some good pieces, but overall we couldn't help but wonder why there's a good reason that most move on from such youthful customisations, and if they look back at all it is merely with a twinge of mild embarrassment/horror.
10) Roksanda Ilincic
There was something about Ilincic's collection that didn't feel very fresh, some of it felt a bit seen-before (Lanvin? Dolce & Gabbana?), but nonetheless she's skilled at designing pretty clothes of the type that many women actually like to wear, and her vision definitely seemed more refined than in previous seasons.
11) Paul Smith
In many ways, and this is quite a rare occurrence in fashion, Paul Smith's men's collections (which are his forte, particularly when tailoring is involved) outshine his women's collections. That's not to say we dislike his women's collections, which provide some great pieces for creative women with a slightly quirky dress sense, it's just overall there doesn't seem to be much going on with them in terms of a look or message, perhaps because Sir Paul's inimitable style is better suited to menswear.
12) House of Holland
Henry Holland's shows seem to produce a sort of infectious energy that lifts everyone's spirits during heavy-going show seasons (sadly we weren't there to enjoy the Dulux colour chart explosion first hand), with great sense of humour and lots of cool attitude. Sure, it's not very 'serious' stuff, but it's cool, it's fun, it's now, and this season there was more emphasis on tailoring, demonstrating another side of HH's design skills. Style.com were dubious ("Henry Holland and Aggy Deyn have turned the gossamer web of media celebrity into the safety net of a substantial career...The problem with that kind of success is that it's almost always the triumph of style over substance"), but it seems to us as if they're missing the point.. there may not be any intricate tailoring details or unusual cuts to coo over, but it's all so alive and fun.
What are your thoughts on these collections, and the others from London Fashion Week that we haven't mentioned (but which you can see on Style.com or Vogue.co.uk)? If you agree/disagree with us, by all means leave a comment and let us know.