Clements Ribeiro

What can established British designers like Suzanne Clements and Inacio Ribeiro teach the younger generation at London Fashion Week – the city that thrives on and throws its weight behind fledgling talent? A whole lot, it turned out today.

The husband-and-wife team who met at Central Saint Martins and set up their label soon after graduating in the early 1990s, sent out a pitch-perfect show this morning.

They had been looking into their archives – specifically their ‘Punk Trousseau’ collection of 1998, presented at the height of Cool Britannia when they were themselves but fledglings on the London scene.

Resurrected and reinterpreted for today, they took their trademark colour striped knits, fine lace, splashy Brazilian floral prints, tartans and flashes of metallic silk brocades and put them through the Clements Ribeiro blender – all to brilliant effect with flat, buckled winklepickers and their ‘clumsy couture’ (as they call it) shapes.

‘We travelled a lot last year,’ explained Inacio Ribeiro of their American road trip (see the American quilt patchwork details) and their frequent visits to his birth-country Brazil, (those zingy, clashing flower prints). ‘And then, of course, we started looking into our vintage collections.’ So why did they choose to reinvestigate Punk?

‘It just felt right,’ he said, noting the upcoming exhibition, Punk: Chaos to Couture at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. ‘Like we were on the right wave length.’ They were; it was uncanny how this collection looked as relevant today as it did 15 years ago.

Of course, it was much more than a remodelling of an archive collection, it was a lesson in how vital Britain’s experienced designers are to London Fashion Week. Why are we not championing our mature talent as much as our green sprouts? After all, it’s not just the young producing sharp, fresh and deeply desirable clothes.