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Chronicles of London Fashion Week – Fall 2011: Danielle Scutt, Henry Holland and Central Saint Martins

Backstage at Danielle Scutt. Images by Lucy Carr-Ellison.

“Are you going to a funeral? A fashion funeral,” mocked a cheeky photographer at the Danielle Scutt show. I had apparently still not registered the “no black” memo. But it was no matter, because Scutt’s neon-infused Fall collection had enough hue for the entire audience—or at least the first two rows. This season marked the designer’s return to the capital’s catwalks after a three-season hiatus. The collection started out seriously enough. Heavy metal music set the mood as look one, a boxy black blazer paired with a knee-length pleated skirt, took the stage. But wait…the model isn’t wearing a shirt under that open blazer. And hold on…the skirt is slit nearly to the waist. And…oh my, I spy a layered gold chain belt and choker (think Cleopatra). Are those lipstick tubes hanging from her ears? So much for serious. No, this was going to be London fun to the end.

After the faux-conservative first look, we were tantalized with a bare-all, black suede fishnet suit. And then BAM! A shocking pink fishnet frock, finished with massive poof sleeves, electrified the runway. The jewelry evolved into Art Deco arrangements of the abovementioned cosmetic baubles. At the end of the show, a massive metallic pouf-sleeved blouse, which devoured the model with its exaggerated volume, rocked down the catwalk. Post Scutt, I dashed…

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…back to my flat to trade my “mourning” ensemble for a leopard-print jumpsuit. (If at first you don’t succeed….) Then it was off to House of Holland for a “mature” collection from designer Henry Holland. “My inspiration was heritage fabrics and granny pastimes. And my granny’s favorite pastime is crochet, so there was that and bingo, birds like budgies and cockatoos. And then, you know, pearls and jazzy bits.” On the runway, Holland’s adorable inspiration appeared in the form of pleated tweed skirts and jackets in orange and raspberry. Corseted cocktail frocks were embellished with lines of pearls. And then, a colorful “crochet print” popped on sequined party dresses, slips, a body-con gown and cozy knit scarves. Last but not least, the bingo balls. They rolled out on printed tights, peeked out on a satin trim from beneath a denim day dress and (my personal favorite) covered a silk jumpsuit. Naturally, it started to rain…

…but that didn’t deter the fashion hoards from flocking to the Central Saint Martins show, where the likes of Lulu Kennedy and Daphne Guinness sat front row in hopes of spotting “the next big thing.” Judging by the collections, which ranged from conceptualized pastel Vanilla Ice looks to stark black pagan dresses to manic multicolored patchwork knits embellished with zip ties, he or she may have very well have been there. Highlights included Pietro Franch’s grey-and-black splattered menswear knits and at once minimal and retro leather jackets, Phoebe English’s black goat hair and rubber-fringe collection and Viktor Smedinge’s neutral-and-black parade of scrolled horsehair canvas. The latter two designers deservingly won the coveted L’Oreal Professional Award. But I must give Kathleen Kye an honorable mention for her gorilla-inspired menswear collection, which featured a massive puffer vest in the shape of King Kong’s hand squeezing the poor model beneath.

Walking out onto the Strand post-show, there was both excitement and precipitation in the air. I must remember to bring an umbrella…

Danielle Scutt

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