GIF: Marchesa, Lucas Nascimento and Holly Fulton - GETTY
Orange is the new black. No, really. Had the New York shows not already confirmed it, today, Emilia Wickstead would have made it so with in a lovely, waffle-soft textured cocoon coat and a similarly fabricated long-sleeved maxi dress. Meanwhile, Sister by Sibling wove it into a slinky harlequin knit and Lucas Nascimento – one of the hottest tickets of the day and, surely, the London shows at large – opened with it.
But we digress.
Day two of the London season kicked proceedings into a higher gear. Marchesa owned it. Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig shipped their show from its usual NY home to London for the first time and Rita Ora, Paloma Faith and Anna Wintour were among the front rowers at the elegant Whitehall Banqueting House, which (somewhat ironically, perhaps) pushed back their dinner plans in order to accommodate the 8.30pm slot. And, what it lacked in champagne, it more than made up for in clothes.
Georgia May Jagger opened in a long white gown of close-cut tiers segmented with bright, embroidered flowers – the embodiment of the ‘modern-gypsy Woodstock spirit’ the designers sought to channel this season. Jacquetta Wheeler followed, resplendent in a boho-tastic off-the-shoulder number. It was just the kind of heavy-hitting fashion fantasy Marchesa’s audience – whichever side of the Atlantic they might be sitting – demands. Silk-organza brocade jumpsuit edged with delicate pink fringing? Here you go. Oscar-ready gown with a cascade of 3-D flowers dripping from chest to waist? Boom. It was free spirit meets distinctly fettered wealth (hand-painted silk doesn’t come cheap, you know) – and what a pretty love child.
Emilia Wickstead is another designer who knows what her customer wants and successfully delivered it today. Considering that customer is personified by the Duchess of Cambridge, you have an idea of what you're going to get at an Emilia Wickstead show. That said, s/s 2015 – which was inspired by the 'humour and heartache' of Wickstead's 1980s youth – had a new momentum. There a focus on exquisitely stitched jumpsuits, some in fragile, paper-like fabrics with what looked like bee’s wings trailing down the back, others cut high to the hip, like tailored bunny suits (without the the tail). The stiff trapeze dresses in mouth-watering shades of yellow and orange will be a hit. But will Kate order the sparkling V-plunge princess gown in silver glitter? Here’s hoping.
Sister by Sibling is also in an Eighties state of mind this season: every one of its catwalk looks was accompanied by an exaggerated bow headpiece. Called ‘Holiday Celebrate’, it was an unambiguous ode to Madonna, as seen through the lens of 1980s street-style pioneers Amy Arbus and Maripol. ‘This collection embodies the fun and fearlessness of dressing to please yourself,’ design trio Joe Bates, Sid Bryan and Cozette McCreery wrote in their show notes. Should that be your bag, the frills, gingham, polka dots, knitted ra-ra skirts, plasticised bra tops, Keith Haring-esque squiggle prints and slogan tees worn only with big knickers shown here ought to just about do it.
The Holly Fulton girl, meanwhile, has grown up. Riffing on the ideas of sun worship, folk art and free expression, Fulton showed a polished and cohesive collection that put dresses front and centre. Her pretty mosaic tiling was the real winner, shooting as a wide column down the front of her monastic maxi dresses or stiffening up the square-cut shell atop a voluminous statement skirt, softening later into a pretty floral embellishment.
Over at 1205, a conundrum: how to push on with your aesthetic when it’s already as pared-back, highly tuned and tightly edited as can be? Paula Gerbase this season looked to American abstract painter Agnes Martin to add a note of expressionism to her typically ultra-functional collection. So, alongside the signature shirting and boiler suits came short trousers that ballooned out so wide it was difficult to tell whether they were, indeed, trousers or a skirt; Star Trek-like tabards that boasted brass plaques pinning a pleat into place; and longline, free-flowing dresses that appeared to simply be four different-length rectangles sewn together. If we had to pick a star of the show, though, our money would be on those lambskin tunics.
But the real success story of the day was Lucas Nascimento. A hotshot-in-the-making since his graduation from London College of Fashion in 2008, this is his moment: the love for him in the BFC tent was palpable from the start of this show, and the cheer at the end, indescribable. Nascimento says that his s/s 2015 collection feels like ‘a draft of hot air’, which seems a particularly apt turn of phrase. He’s slashed away pretty much half of everything, so a partial dress comes buckled by a single waist-level strap over a bra top and trousers, or a drapey silk top ripples over a dress of sheer tulle. The pieces, individually, are eminently buyable – see the chartreuse parka, the bunch-waisted silk skirts, the putty leather separates folded out to reveal flashes of yellow and orange behind – but, collectively, a powerful indication of big things to come.