Dispatches from London: Hunter makes a splash

Plus Lucas Nascimento, Emilia Wickstead & John Rocha

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By Emma Sells Follow: @EvjSells

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1. Hunter 2.Emilia Wickstead 3. John Rocha

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Alasdhair Willis is a man on a mission. The recently appointed creative director of Hunter has made no secret that his aim is to reposition the British brand so that we associate it with more than just wellington boots. How to begin the campaign? With a big budget show at London Fashion Week and the unveiling of the first Hunter Original collection. And it really was a show. Stella McCartney, Willis’s other half, took selfies with Arizona Muse and Anna Wintour on the front row. Jessie J got her own personal magic show courtesy of Dynamo. And the catwalk, possibly inspired by the current state of Somerset Levels, was filled with water and lined with trees - because, Fashion Week or not, Hunter is a brand firmly rooted in the countryside.

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Which is precisely why, splashing their way down the catwalk, the models (including former ELLE cover star Suki Waterhouse) wore sexed-up versions of classic outerwear. Opaque plastic macs in fruity tones, oil-slick capes, beautiful rubberised trenches, silver quilted jackets, duffle coats and flak jackets, and curved-shoulder fleeces. There were nods to ready-to-wear too; the high-heeled wellies, chunky block-colour sweaters, fleecy mini skirts and neoprene shorts - and even some rubber clutches and mini tote bags. But really it was all about keeping out the rain.

For the finale, the models assembled at the top of the catwalk and were joined by Dynamo, who somehow levitated a few feet from the ground, before playing cards rained from the ceiling and Willis stepped out to take his bow. It was a brilliantly slick production.

From left: Lucas Nascimento, Hunter and Jasper Conran

From big brand hoopla to rising star: Lucas Nascimento is fast becoming one of LFW’s hot tickets. His 1970s-inspired homage to supermodel Veruschka was so accomplished, packed full of those deliciously simple but deceptively difficult-to-get-right pieces that we love to wear. Sleek leather coats and peg-leg trousers, woollen coats and trousers suits, even simple skirt and sweater combos looked fresh and modern at his hand. There were some great dresses, too - striped tubes in concertina-pleated jersey and glittering, crackle-printed simple bandeau shapes. And those over-the-knee boots? We have to have them.

A piano player tinkling away at the entrance to the show space, lines of elegant upright chairs in lieu of benches? It must be London’s reigning queen of elegance, Emilia Wickstead. There was an edge to her lady - and she really is a lady - this season, decked out as she was in black leather and snakeskin, albeit whipped up into pearl-trimmed, princess-line coats. Whether her customers will go for them remains to be seen, but there were plenty of safe bets too, from the mid-length jacquard dress covered in dove-grey roses and the high-waisted, wide-leg wool trousers, to the lace-covered pencil skirts and neatly fitted jackets. But what would the Duchess wear, we hear you cry. We have our hopes pinned on the high-necked, long-sleeved, floor-sweeping gown in hot pink. Would she be so bold?

John Rocha’s clothes were so intricate and gloriously textural that it wasn’t enough to watch them glide down a runway - you wanted to get up close and touch and feel them, too. Clouds of gently folded organza undulated across dresses and hats, cut-out petals dripped from sheer dresses, tulle was layered up in tiers, and oversized, wrap-over coats in rich velvets just begged to be stroked. Practical? Not altogether, but really, truly beautiful.

Jasper Conran, on the other hand, has been carving out a niche for years, designing seriously luxe, seriously wearable clothes for a loyal band of followers. Richard E Grant joined the throng this morning to see what was in store for a/w. No great surprises here, just beautiful, expensive looking pieces; cashmere coats in pale grey and dusty pink, just-sexy-enough little black dresses with slivers of sheer inserts, demure pencil skirts with silk camisole tops and just a smattering of sequins. It was refined and polished, just like the women who’ll wear it.

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