LONDON - Ah, spring. For designers here in London, it's the season of love, fairy tales, travel and - if you're British designer Ashish - sequins.
Day 2 of London Fashion Week explored a variety of takes on what to expect in, and how to dress for, spring and summer 2010.
Designers like Jenny Packham focused on floaty, short, and nearly transparent looks - clearly meant for more summery weather - while Kinder Aggugini and others incorporated tailored jackets and hats alongside lightweight pieces. John Rocha's runway was awash in white, while Ashish went for a wilder look, peppering his models with sequins and spikes.
This Hong Kong-born fixture of the British fashion world brought a dose of Dublin to the London runway. Inspired by two decades spent on the Emerald Isle, Rocha worked Ireland's Claddagh symbol - a traditional token of love - into his collection, for example by emblazoning the Claddagh's crowned heart in gold glitter over a translucent white tank. Rocha said this season's collection was inspired by "the colour white and its tints," and there was plenty of it in his show. But there was contrast too, like a webbed black dress, moulded into the shape of bell and complemented by a large dark piece of millinery.
Quirky British designer Ashish picked up on the theme of '80s punk and ran with it, taking in large graphic T-shirt dresses and metal spikes. Models wore Ashish's typically sequin-heavy shifts - one showing the map of Italy, another the Eiffel Tower, and a third New York's Lady Liberty. One particularly striking piece - a black cutaway body-con dress - was accessorized with a belly bag studded with metal spines and slung across the hips.
Aggugini wins the prize for the day's most inventive look - fluorescent pink and orange polka-dot cutout dresses that looked like they'd been attacked with a paper puncher. Some of the circular cutouts dangled by a thread, flouncing along to the beat of the models' walk. The invite for Aggugini's "Loss of Innocence" collection featured a bloodstained Snow White figurine, and the show itself was infused with themes from dark-edged fairy tales and the look of the 1920s flapper.
Packham wants to modernize the girly-girl, and she's made over the music industry mavens and sexy starlets. Packham took traditional fabrics like cotton and chiffon, cut them short and made some so light they seemed to float down the catwalk. There was a pouty, Paris Hilton theme to some of the pieces in Packham's "Pretty Girl No. 1" collection. The streams of crystals, fiery rhinestones, and sparkly shoes embellishing some of the shorter dresses seemed designed to catch the photographer's flash on the red carpet.
But the over-the-top pieces were balanced with a smattering of subdued and lightweight baby-doll and shift dresses, all of which harkened an early '60s vibe. Packham's experience with bridal work - she was named 2008's British Bridal Dress Designer of the Year - came out in the 2010 collection, whose chalky-coloured confections seemed to hover over congregated fashionistas.