GIF: J.W. Anderson, House of Holland and Julien Macdonald - IMAXTREE
Between the heavyweight backing of LVMH and his impending debut for Loewe in Paris, it's no big surprise that there was something new in the air at J.W. Anderson. His girl had headed to the French Riviera, oversized floppy leather hat keeping the sun from her face, and a seaside thread ran through the collection: reversed sailor trousers, terry towelling two-pieces and sleeveless jackets with woven and knotted rope fastenings. There were, of course, plenty of pieces that would be tricksy away from the catwalk; but there was a much higher than usual proportion of pieces that you'll actually find useful. Those white shirts with red or blue collars, perhaps, or the ribbed sweater dresses that looked as though he'd pulled apart polo necks and pieced them back together, the lightly flared trousers, long leather wrap skirts and simple leather minis with gold buttons. Expect to see a lot of J Dubs on the front row next season.
It's fair to say that the Julien Macdonald girl doesn't do casual. A quick look at the VIP section of the front row was enough to confirm it – it may have been late morning, but Abbey Clancy, Millie Mackintosh et al were dressed to the nines in skinny dresses and sky-high heels. Macdonald knows who he's catering for and is brilliant at what he does. His dresses ranged from simple shifts and mini skater dresses to opulent gowns destined for the red carpet, and they were all intricately embroidered with flowers and cranes and swirls. And, because occasion dressing is second nature to MacDonald and his fans, there were even a couple of wedding dresses, too: a knitted mini covered in tiny ruffles worn with a long embroidered veil, and a slightly more demure but equally extravagant gown.
An upbringing in the sun-drenched climes of southern Brazil is the ideal training ground for hot-weather dressing, which is why Barbara Casasola has it nailed. From her figure-hugging dresses in ribbed jersey that revealed just the right amount of flesh and her sweeping, sheer pleated skirts, to her stretch pencil skirts with metallic jersey tops that looked as though they'd been thrown on just moments ago, her girls radiated an irresistible refined sexiness. If only we looked that good when the heat's turned up.
Hunter Original set the bar high with its budget-busting debut last season, so speculation was rife about what it had in store for its second outing. It being a brand that's big on rain wear, there was a reprise of the watery theme. The show was held at a leisure centre in a space that was once a swimming pool. There was a huge, LED screen-covered box in the centre of the room that showed an underwater animation created especially for the occasion by Mat Maitland, the perfect backdrop for the khaki jackets, camouflage parkas and rubber macs that you'll be wearing at next season's festivals. But it's the clever piece of rebranding more than the clothes themselves that is remarkable. Creative Director, Alasdhair Wills, with wife Stella McCartney and father-in-law Sir Paul looking on, deserved his applause.
The groupies were out in force over at House of Holland, and not just on the front row. Henry's girls were band aids through and through, from their sparkling eyeshadow down to their stiletto heels, all decked out in acid florals and psychedelic swirls. The silhouettes were Sixties redux, all miniskirts, swinging shift dresses, fringed suede jackets and button-up shirts. And judging by the whoops coming from Alexa Chung, Daisy Lowe, Rita Ora, Gwendoline Christie et al, it went down a treat with his own faithful followers.
Jasper Conran is well practised in the art of designing clothes that are stylish and straightforward. His spring collection was packed with relaxed printed silk dresses, elegant jumpsuits and stiff, pristine cotton shirt dresses, just the thing to see his customer through the summer months. And his sporty pieces – the navy silk parka, a white oversized blouse and elasticated skirt printed with swirling navy lines, and even his take on the leather bomber jacket – added a modern touch.