The British Establishment

LONDON…”Clothes only have a life when you put them on – they must mold to the life of the wearer.” says Jasper Conran whose signature aesthetic mixes classic British glamor with a cheeky irreverent attitude. His F/W 08/09 collection concentrates more on the former, with extremely well-tailored yet uncomplicated and print free pieces in a surprisingly spring-like color palette of monotones with nude and yellow pops. The utter simplicity was a refreshing sight in an otherwise jewel-toned, multi-printed season.


John Rocha’s reputation is built on immaculate tailoring, novel knitwear, as well as hand-panted and embroidered pieces. His Fall ’08 collection was a testament to these capabilities. The black fitted crochet styles are reminiscent of Alaia, another master of the form, but Rocha’s take is less refined and more moody. They give the impression of a costume you might see in a Tim Burton fantasy film, and in terms of innovative and creative imagination, that is a huge compliment.


The main goal of the season for Aquascutum’s designers, Michael Herz and Graeme Fidler, was to create a collection that would pay due to the company’s origins of 1851, which was outfitting soldiers for the trenches. Using the vintage archives to re-create elements of the historical military clothing is perhaps one major reason why the entire first half of the show was a lengthy succession of outerwear. From an officer’s long double-breasted greatcoat, to more form-fitting trenches and even cocooning shapes, the range of varied styles were perfectly suited to the sexy yet simple dresses that were worn beneath them in a myriad of eye-catching colors such as deep bordeaux, burnt orange, and sapphire-blue. The mix of historical influence and modern colors gave this show a defined edge.

A show with European polish from the quintessential English designer Paul Smith who felt inspired by the memory of a trip to Paris many years ago and to that end early ’60s inspired beatniks, ingénues and chic housewives in head-scarves walked the runway. Consequently, the clothes were a blend of styles that included high-waisted skinny pants, a boyfriend tuxedo jacket over full skirt and broad striped top, sack dress, brown and orange sweater jacket over a coordinating dress.


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