Dispatches from London: Meadham Kirchhoff

Plus Barbara Casasola and Fashion East

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1. Meadham Kirchhoff 2. Barbara Casasola 3. Fashion East

Even the cavernous Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern wasn’t big enough to contain Meadham Kirchhoff. The pair launched the perfume that they’ve created with Penhaligons, Tralala, at their show yesterday, piping it into the space so that by the time the models hit the runway, the whole museum was scented. The heady aroma was the perfect backdrop to the show’s romantic theme, hammered home by a catwalk that was decked out like a kitsch 1980s dating show, with cardboard cut-outs of frilled hearts and arches draped with gold tinsel fringing.

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As for the collection itself? It was more easily digestible and wearable than some of their previous offerings It started with a riff on Chanel-style boucle skirt suits, from classic white-trimmed, gold-buttoned black jackets and knee length skirts to herringbone tunics and checked mini skirts. Their frilly, romantic dresses came in baby pink and turquoise and were styled with veils – Meadham Kirchhoff wedding dress anyone? And there were some beautiful velvet dresses made from waves of block colour, a beaded slip dress some iridescent coats that are sure to be big hitters with more than just their die-hard fans.

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Over at Barbara Casasola, the Brazilian designer had slightly moved away from the evening wear of last season, making her first attempt at separates and accessories. That’s not to say that she’d suddenly taken a more casual slant. The button-up skirts, neatly tailored trouser suits, wool jumpsuits, cropped skinny roll necks and fold-over coats all radiated polished luxury. And she hadn’t abandoned those dresses altogether. With textural sheer skirts, slashed bodices and plunging necklines, they were revealing but they weren't overtly sexy – quite a feat. The fold-over leather clutches with gold hardware, her first bags, were a sophisticated addition too. Two seasons on the schedule and she’s already a force to be reckoned with.

1. Louis Alsop 2. Helen Lawrence 3. Ashley Williams

How to make sure that your name is noticed when you’re showing alongside to other fledgling designers? Louise Alsop, the first designer on yesterday’s Fashion East line-up, solved the problem simply by embroidering it onto the first look. Her rebel teen-themed collection marked her debut at LFW and it was a strong one. She layered skater shorts, sweatshirts and tunics in cotton, corduroy and jersey with sheer and pleated chiffons and covered them with prints of hardcore gigs, while graphic printed blocks in black, white and mint green (inspired by a box seen on an episode of South Park – it’s all about the details) covered trouser suits and bomber jackets. It was fresh and youthful and a brilliant start.

Also showing for the first time was Helen Lawrence, a recently graduated knitwear designer who has been grabbing attention thanks to her work with menswear designer, Craig Green. Her already-signature squiggle print and embroidery made an appearance on cosy wool coats and plastic macs and was echoed in the hem shapes of vests in denim, plastic and leather. But, unsurprisingly, it was the knits – the ribbed pencil skirts, shrunken jerseys and short trousers with a hand-crafted feel to them – that were the stand-out pieces.

Ashley Williams is the veteran of the group with two shows already under her belt – making this her last before she goes it alone. From the Amish leather hats right down to their cowboy boots, she continued to raid Americana for references. She’s a lover of kitsch – she is, don’t forget, the co-founder of Pixie Geldof’s Funky Offish brand – and there was plenty of it on show, from the applique horses heads with fringed leather manes that appeared on shift dresses and trenches, through to the snake-trimmed pink plastic bomber and the yellow sequin slip dress emblazoned with a giant kitten. It may not be to everyone’s taste – but perhaps that’s the point.

Meadham Kirchhoff a/w 2014

Barbara Casasola a/w 2014

Fashion East a/w 2014

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