Dreamy, confident shows mark London Fashion Week

Entertainment

Models display creations by Preen by Thornton Bregazzi at the Spring/Summer 2020 fashion week runway show presented in London, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. (Kate Collins/PA via AP)

LONDON (AP) — Fashion devotees basked in sunny weather and strong, sometimes whimsical collections as London Fashion Week neared its climax Sunday with runway shows by Roland Mouret, Victoria Beckham, Simone Rocha and others throughout the city.

A fleet of black chauffeured Mercedes whisked VIPs from venue to venue, but those who preferred to walk saw the British capital at its best, with glimpses of the street style that helps give London its credibility in the fashion competition with Paris, New York and Milan.

Two days of shows remain, with Burberry and Christopher Kane on tap.

ROLAND MOURET’S COLLECTON FULL OF OPTIMISM, DESPITE WOES

Roland Mouret’s spring 2020 collection was inspired by his observation of a worrying symmetry between New York in the ’80s, enamored of its own affluent progressiveness while on the verge of bankruptcy, and today’s social, environmental and political turbulence.

“It was a time when people were dressing up amazingly while people were dying in the street. Now we have the same kind of interaction through our media. You go from the new launch at Selfridges and the next day there’s someone dying,” he said after the show in a rarely seen courtyard at the Royal Academy of Arts.

Despite that bleak starting point, his show was full of optimistic, even dreamy colors cut in relaxed silhouettes, with lots of shimmering sequins.

The designer, who made his name with the figure-hugging Galaxy dress he debuted in 2005, and which is still in production today, sent out a collection that nodded to the ’80s via soft tailoring (a revolutionary concept led by Giorgio Armani and made famous by Richard Gere in “American Gigolo”), wide shoulders and relaxed American sportswear staples. Those were reframed by Mouret as a low-slung blue sequin skirt worn with a white blouse and a rope belt that looked like it was filched from the nearest yacht.

The wolves of Wall Street were alluded to through the corporate appeal of checked suits, the double-pleated fronts on gorgeously fluid wide-legged trousers and stock broker-approved wide lapels that were deployed across jackets and coats. The motif especially stood out on an oyster sequin blazer with a contrasting blue lapel, which was teamed with a blush pink sequin skirt and a white bohemian blouse.

SIMONE ROCHA SHOWS SERENE, OFFBEAT COLLECTION

Simone Rocha continues to impress and draw new admirers as her collections grow in sophistication without sacrificing the look that has made her unique. Her color palette is simple: white and blue, white and red, white and black, but the embroidery and layering are remarkable.

The models’ hair seemed sculptural, adding texture and depth to the outfits, as did the elaborate braided straps to some of the handbags, which were similar to detailing on various outfits.

Rocha also is improving her staging. With her designer father, John Rocha, watching from the front row, the show unspooled with a certain dignity and serenity, the models walking slowly in a circle on the stage of the Alexandra Palace, a 19th century landmark in north London.

Rocha continued what has become her tradition: employing some older models and some who were not rail-thin. Some of the models also broke with tradition by smiling at the audience, and one blew a kiss to a friend near the end of the show. It added to the celebratory feel.

STILL BUZZING ABOUT NAOMI CAMPBELL’S GALA

Much of the buzz Sunday focused on the success of Naomi Campbell’s Fashion for Relief gala the night before, which continued for hours after the late-night show with a dinner in the heart of the British Museum.

Campbell has become a master at organizing big, complex events for her charity efforts, and this was no exception. She managed to procure one of the most prestigious sites in London and filled it with a glamorous crowd.

She even returned to the runway, proving without a doubt she can still model any time she chooses.

EMILIA WICKSTEAD PAYS TRIBUTE TO LOUISA MAY ALCOTT

Emilia Wickstead paid homage to Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel “Little Women” for spring 2020, a timely reference given an upcoming film directed by Greta Gerwig which stars Emma Watson as Meg and Saorise Ronan as the headstrong Jo March.

Debussy’s soothing “Arabesque No. 1. Andantino con moto” played as Wickstead’s guests climbed the stairs to the nosebleed section of the Royal Albert Hall, setting the tone for an elegant collection that ran the gamut from poised sophistication to joyful exuberance and sensual femininity.

There was a focus on volume, with bunches of fabric at the back of dresses echoing the bustles prevalent in Alcott’s time.

One jumpsuit had a crisp collar and midriff cutout placed to accentuate a high waistband. Another dress had wide cuffed sleeves and panels reminiscent of 19th century shirt bibs.

The palette of saccharine pinks, yellows, lavender, and tangerine was sharpened by no-nonsense red and black, while a print offering was comprised of delicate hand-painted blue roses imposed on a mint color.

Hats, a big motif in the novel, were used to dramatic effect, especially one wide black visor-like piece that was perched and worn with a slim cap-sleeved black dress with a sternum-exposing cut-out.

Other moments of high drama appeared via a billowing cloud of black organza, fashioned into a balloon-sleeved gown. The closing look elicited raised eyebrows and naked admiration in equal measure: a full-length pink gown with copious bunches that could best be described as a boat-necked marshmallow.

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