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Chic and Cheeky

The spirit of Swinging London lives in Fashion Week.

Oct 11, 2010, Vol. 16, No. 04 • By SAMANTHA SAULT
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The catwalk fashions, too, mix the traditional and modern. The British designer Jasper Conran, son of Sir Terence Conran, sent airy sundresses and pants fit for a country holiday down the catwalk. The clothes were quite demure, but the tangerine and lime designs were fresh. Meanwhile, the Welsh designer (and former Alexander McQueen intern) Jayne Pierson showed blouses with sleeves and necklines reminiscent of the Tudor era, mixed with sleek gray leather jackets and dresses featuring military details. Other clear trends on the catwalks and in the presentation halls of London included neon colors, sheer fabrics and lingerie details, and baubles with spikes and skulls.

The fresh attitude is sometimes cheeky: The Israeli-born designer Lee Klabin created my favorite collection with its stunning sculptured dresses with corset bodices, sheer blouses, and sassy shorts. I chatted with Charlotte Bishop, Klabin’s PR woman, in the designer’s showroom in a Shoreditch loft space. She told me about Klabin’s beginnings as a bespoke corset designer for celebrities like burlesque dancer and model Dita Von Teese and actress Sarah Jessica Parker. Klabin’s latest ready-to-wear collection features slimming German jersey dresses, sculptured Napa leather skirts, raw-edge details that are “rough and ready,” and, of course, “sensuous, lingerie-inspired details” that create Victorian silhouettes for the modern woman. Sold exclusively at Harrods, the collection, I was informed, is designed for the woman who is “a strong business woman one day, and a fun party girl the next.”

Such a woman, I thought, in her sexy, stunning leather corset-bodice dress, might cause a stir at the Cavalry and Guards Club; but she would epitomize the style and attitude of London Fashion Week. It’s gaining prominence among the fashion weeks of the world, and to echo Jaime Perlman, it’s a hub of creative new designs and a venue for designers who either aren’t sufficiently well known for Paris or commercial enough for New York. London is the breeding ground for cutting-edge fashion now, but most designers would like to build their brand beyond the city. After all, as Bishop told me excitedly, her boss is also showing her Spring/Summer 2011 collection at a pop-up shop during Paris Fashion Week. 

London, however, remains a birthplace for fashion trends. When I asked Alexis Mabille why they brought Pyrenex to London, rather than some other destination, he replied: “London is the beginning.”

Samantha Sault is a writer in Washington. 

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