Yesterday Mark Fast showed one of his best collections yet. While there wasn't anything particularly ground breaking about it, the pieces were a lot more streamlined and refined than we've seen from him the past. The knitwear worked so well that it was easy to forget that that's exactly what they were.
The collection was also a lot more wearable than we've seen in the past. The dresses still came with high hemlines, thigh baring slits and were still body conscious, granted, but this time the neutral colour palette of monochromatic stripes, greys and peaches teamed with softer silhouettes allowed the line to appear to a wider cross section of women. One look which featured a stripped cropped top with a winter appropriate grey knit skirt and beanie is exactly what I want to wear now and the fringed coat that appeared at the beginning will definitely satisfy the Fast customer who loved the brightly coloured versions that he has shown in the past.
The Ashish show is much loved by the Br(IT) pack. London Fashion Week has got a lot more serious over the last few years compared to the fun creative days so many see the brand as a nod back to those days. For that designer Ashish Gupta deserves praise. Since launching on the scene 11 years ago, he has been uncompromising in sticking to his vision. Today, his signature sequins came on mini dresses with a hand giving the deuces sign and they also popped up on sports tops and trousers alongside tie die prints and Indian elements.
That said, the brand hasn't excited for a very long time and that didn't change with the fall collection. Rather than doing something different with the sequins, each season they are presented in the same way making the brand seem like a one trick pony. In seasons to come it would be great for Gupta to show us what we can do and incorporating the sequins naturally into the garments rather than letting them be the sole focus.
Images by Naomi Mdudu/The Fash Pack and Margaret Howell in-house photographer
For as long as I can remember Margaret Howell has shown her collections at 9am on Sundays and it makes perfect sense. Not many other designers could handle such a tough spot in the schedule and draw in a crowd and that's exactly what Howell did over the weekend.
Too often today designers are ever to conscious about tapping into the current trends or having enough celebrities on the front row of their shows to get a spot in the morning papers. With Howell though, there are no frills, no gimmicks - it's all about the clothes. The charm of her collections lies in their simplicity. As always, the collection was full of great classic knitwear, skirts coming in a modest lengths and simple white button down shirts. A few seasons ago Howell did a beautiful camel shearling coat, which popped up again (much to my delight) this season but in chocolate brown. Amongst these signatures Howell introduced new elements like a keen interest in military details which transpired on the khaki-heavy colour palette and structured double breasted coats that came in shades of grey.
Anticipation for Florence and The Machine's performance at tonight's Brit Awards is high but so far Florence Welch hasn't disappointed. The singer turned up on the red carpet at the awards in this romantic peach ruffled creation and matching sandals and noticeably darker red hair.
Last month Alistair Carr really came into his stride with his debut menswear collection at Pringle of Scotland and this was also true of his women's wear offerings too.
Carr embraced the brand's knitwear heritage by producing the simple merino styles that have become the brand's bread and butter and are much appreciated by their loyal customer base. But that's not all. This season he seemed less afraid to do something knew with them, though, rather than sticking with the past. The V-neck fluffy jumper in candy pink was particularly good, as was a similar style but on a button down cardigan in mint. Chevron-partnered cardigans and turtlenecks felt less conservative when styled with metallic skirts and trousers.
The colour palette was largely muted but outerwear was modernised through Carr's confident use of colour blocking, which worked well on a simple black coat that was given a bright orange outline on the collar, shoulders and down the front. While this collection was a step in the right direction, we can only hope that Carr takes more risks in the seasons to come.
Paul Smith's commitment to traditional winter tones and textures was a welcomed departure from all of the colour we have seen at London Fashion Week. While a hot pink jacket or statement prints might on the occasion serve as the antidote to your winter blues, there's not getting away from the need to invest in key winter pieces in muted tones that will transcend seasons. That's exactly what Smith did with his fall collection.
The signature menswear inspired pieces were there particularly on the tailored jackets, trousers suits and sleeveless coats. The trousers were particularly good and came in the wide leg style that popped up a lot in New York but Smith's version came slightly cropped at the bottom. Where Smith experimented was with textures. Slinky pyjama style printed tops and jackets worked as did the introduction of mustard tones on cords and velvet on the simpler looks.
Magazine anniversary issues are always good - take Lara Stone's topless appearance on French Vogue's 90th anniversary issue for example. This year, it's W Korea's turn.
To celebrate turning seven this year the magazine has cast seven models to appear on a series of special covers all wearing a lot of Louis Vuitton and the pastel tones that were huge on the runway for S/S12. The covers were shot by Jang Hyun Hong and stars Hyoni Kang, Maryna Linchuck, Crystal Renn, Anais Mali, Hanne Gaby Odiele, Julia Nobis and Valeriia Keleva. Anais Mali's cover is particularly significant as it marks the first time a black model has ever covered the magazine.
Fall is always Burberry's season, something which is hardly surprising considering that the brand are known for their outerwear. Christopher Bailey is the master of experimenting with rich tones and fabrics to update the brand's classics and yesterday's show was no different. Outerwear often came with herringbone prints; corduroy popped up on trousers; cropped jackets came with fur collars and skirts and dresses came in suede.
A handful of jackets came in the blanket styles that we saw a lot of in New York and were a welcomed departure from the jackets with oversized pockets that often felt too heavy. Peplum, which was the shape of choice at brands like Vera Wang last season, dominated the collection and appeared on dresses and skirts and the shape was also created on jackets cinched at the waist with belts with bows or fox head buckles.
The collection featured the knit tops with dog and owl embroidery which appeared in the menswear collection last month, and puffa jackets looked as good as they did for men too and came in a similar cropped style but this time in brown. If you're still not convinced about the puffa jackets, don't worry because the quilted coats teamed with skinny belts were equally good.
Last week's Nicole Farhi show was a big one for the brand, as it marked its 30th anniversary. Rather than making the anniversary the focus, Farhi made the emphasis all about the clothes. As the show began it quickly became clear why she continues to be a force to be reckoned with.
The collection was strong. Last season's emphasis on florals and femininity gave way to a new strength and easy confidence. Shapes were often tailored and severe and came in a dark colour palette of charcoal, grey and black alongside a series of rich colours like olive green and mustard. This idea also translated on the hair and make-up. Hair came slicked back at the front but with some texture at the back to play with this idea of androgyny and power without compromising on femininity, Sam McKnight told me backstage.
Simple pieces like a long sleeved dress and a classic high waisted pencil skirt teamed with a sheer turtleneck felt modern through the use of a metallic wave across the front. The use of colour alongside the metallics and confetti skirts that appeared towards the end of the show helped give a dark but mysterious twist to what would otherwise have been a very conservative collection