What we learned from London Fashion Week

peterjensen lfw 2016 charity fashion live 2015

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “What we learned from London Fashion Week” was written by Tamsin Blanchard, for theguardian.com on Sunday 4th October 2015 10.00 UTC

Start with Oxfam

Oxfam is still the starting point for great fashion. We know designers use it to find inspiration for their collections. But during London Fashion Week, for one day only, stylist Emma Slade Edmondson reinterpreted what she saw on the fashion show live streams for Charity Fashion Live. She used the Oxfam shop in Dalston as her base and watched the live streams of the shows for that day, including Jasper Conran, Sibling London and Holly Fulton (right), and scoured the rails to find ways to recreate the looks. Photographer Rachel Manns shot the results on a mini catwalk in store.

“With 350 tonnes of textile going to landfill every day, it’s really good to get creative with the clothes that already exist,” said Slade Edmondson.

It’s a great way to reconnect with fashion on a personal level, using the catwalks and the designers as inspiration for your own style. Check out the Charity Fashion Live Instagram feed to see what happened – and be inspired by the looks on these pages to do it yourself.

In the red: a model on the catwalk for Marques' Almeida.
In the red: a model on the catwalk for Marques’ Almeida. REX Shutterstock Photograph: Rex Shutterstock

Ruffles are rife

It’s all about the ruffle. If you’ve followed the reports from the shows, you will be prepared for next spring’s ruffle-fest courtesy of… oh, well, pretty much every designer, including Marques’ Almeida. But away from the bright lights of the catwalk was a young designer starting out on her career. Jodie Ruffle (that’s her real name) showed her MA Fashion collection from University of Middlesex (she graduates this year) in a makeshift showroom. Ruffle is the future of fashion – a super-bright student dedicated to her craft and full of innovative ideas. Her small collection of oversized sportswear was handcrafted with couture-level embellishment embroideries, hand-printed concrete – and the odd ruffle – that had a cool looseness and roughness to it.

“Some of the pieces took 300 hours to make,” she said. “There’s such a quick turnaround on the high street, and I like the idea of concentrating on having a few special pieces rather than just being saturated with mass-market stuff. Fashion keeps coming so fast, and it’s not really sustainable at all.”

Politics rule

Politicians are criminals. That is according to the irrepressible Vivienne Westwood, who had a band of merry activists/ravers on hand to welcome guests to her show. “We are going to give you some politics with your fashion today,” said the clown-faced greeter, pressing leaflets into the audience’s hands – a rant which rattled through most the world’s current woes from austerity to arms dealers, climate change and general poverty. This wasn’t a show on Sam Cam’s schedule. If wearing Westwood’s clothes signifies you are somehow on the fringes of the establishment, then I’m all for them. Besides, Viv really knows how to cut a brilliantly flattering dress.

Nom de Mode 2016.
Nom de Mode 2016. Photograph: PR

Layers work

While we are on the subject of climate change, it’s worth talking about layering. This is now the intelligent way to dress. One designer duo that has mastered the art of dressing across the seasons is Nom de Mode. Twin sisters Mandeep and Hardeep Chohan are their own best advertisement. They specialise in making outer layers that transform an outfit into something effortlessly elegant. Their bestsellers are a sleeveless gilet and a cleverly draped cape, which are useful, as they can be worn over other layers without making you feel bulky. The carefully chosen luxurious fabrics are sometimes collaged together to create the impression of more layers. And you don’t have to wait to buy – their perennial collection is, well, perennial. Check it out on nomdemode.com.

Handmade is forever

As Antonio Berardi’s stylist Sophia Neophitou told me backstage: “Fast fashion is the death of what we do.” As we all know, it is possible to buy pretty much anything from the high street. The only way for designer fashion to stand out – and justify the prices – is by creating pieces that cannot be copied and made en masse. So Berardi’s fabrics are heavily embellished and the dresses finished with couture techniques to become “forever pieces”. For Faustine Steinmetz, it means weaving the very fabric – she taught herself to weave via YouTube and is busy reinterpreting the humble sweatshirt and jeans jacket into something altogether more luxurious. Katie Jones also knits her slightly bonkers collections in small quantities – all by hand, from dead stock yarns – in her Stratford studio. Selfridges is selling her line for the first time this autumn. Other handcrafters include Peter Pilotto, the duo which has transferred their love of complex prints into a passion for macramé, smocking and embroidery so it’s all about texture; Phoebe English, who likes to fashion her woven panels and cobweb knits into ethereal clothes; and Mary Benson, who embroidered personal love letters on to her dresses – along with a few tears.

Sleeves are back:  a model walks the runway at the JW Anderson show.
Sleeves are back: a model walks the runway at the JW Anderson show. Photograph: Samir Hussein/Getty Images

Sleeves are huge

Obvious to you maybe, but for Planet Fashion sleeves are particularly important for SS16. They are almost comically exaggerated in the hands of Jonathan Anderson, who is set to revive the leg of mutton for his JW Anderson label. For society and executive women’s favourite designer Emilia Wickstead, the sleeve is puffed and deliciously billowy. And Roksanda is Queen of the Sleeve with her voluminous bell shapes. Even if you don’t go to these extremes, I guarantee your sleeves will be so long and floppy next season that your hands will disappear from view.

Cardigans never die

The cardigan is useful, but often regarded as frumpy. But next season frumps can delight in the knowledge that they can wear their cardies with pride, especially if, as with Christopher Kane’s bold, chunky version, they have darned bits and elbow patches. The older and more well-loved the better. Which is great news for anyone concerned about landfill; old cardies never die.

Buy a bum bag

The bum bag is another useful piece of kit that occupies that strange hinterland of fashion which is more often out than in. But thanks to the brilliance of Christopher Raeburn, whose clothes are always as much about function as about form, the bum bag can be worn without looking as though you are an American tourist in fear of being mugged for your passport. As is often the way with fashion, it needs to be big and confident to look sharp, which means there is room for everything in there from your supersized mobile phone to a spare pair of shoes.

Be seen in green

Parrot green (and sunset pink) are the colours for next season. The Korean designer J JS Lee used it (in deckchair stripes), as did British newbie Molly Goddard and Peter Jensen. And if that particular shade makes you feel sick as a parrot, then there is a lot of pink about – the whole sunset spectrum, in fact. Bora Aksu was nostalgic for hot summer nights back home in his garden of lemon, orange and pomegranate trees in Izmir, and Roksanda made a dress in shredded, ruffled chiffon that matched the colour of the model’s hair which was – naturally – pink.

Green lights: Peter Jensen's show.
Green lights: Peter Jensen’s show. Photograph: Rex Shutterstock

Keep it personal

It’s all about you – your own personal style is the only style for you. The idea of trends is dead and buried. In Milan, Gucci’s new designer Alessandro Michele has heralded a new era of “anything goes” fashion. So in London we could choose from the multilayered, multicoloured collection by Japanese label Toga, or Preen which is a collection designed to meet the needs of every woman. Or take some tips from Peter Jensen’s latest muse the fashion stylist Shirley Kurata. You may not know her, but that doesn’t matter if you like her style and want to borrow a bit of it. Like a sun visor, perhaps? (She lives in LA.)

Or you might simply want to wear immaculately cut clothes by another woman who knows just how to do that. In which case take a look at 1205, the collection designed by Savile Row trained Paula Gerbase – one of the few designers to include trousers in their collection. And she finished it off with dazzling white boxfresh Nike Air Max trainers – the perfect combination of form, function and great personal style.

And don’t forget, there’s always Oxfam.

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