Dispatches from London: Matthew Williamson, Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith & more

The latest from the catwalk

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Something new at Margaret Howell yesterday morning. The designer, finally
bowing to the pressure of demand for seats, moved her show out of her
Wigmore Street store and into Rambert, the headquarters of the famous
dance school. 'I design my clothes with just that kind of freedom, life
and natural grace in mind,' she explained her new venue of choice in her
show notes. 'What better place to show them than where dance is made?'

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Rather than offering up dance wear, however, this upheaval had seen
Howell refocus on the idea of Britishness ­ it was no coincidence that
several of her models sported bowler hats. Linen was the big fabric story
for spring and came cut into classic blazers, round-neck tees and
pleat-front trousers. There was a really lovely dress that was jersey tee
on top, pleated midi on the bottom; modern bra-tops paired with cuffed,
belted pants; and crisp cotton shirting unbuttoned up to the waist with
tailored shorts beneath. Two short-sleeved jumpers, one in moss green,
one in powder blue, provided the only punctuations of colour in a
typically ­brilliantly – Howellian sea of neutrals.

Paul Smith, likewise, provided plenty of wardrobe options for the woman
wanting to dress herself with minimal fuss, maximum impact next season.
There was a safari vibe to the cool cotton beige and khaki tailoring that
opened the show, which came paired with cream tops that had pink fringing
swinging like the fronds of some exotic flower at the hem. The collection
was big on stripes ­ in mix-and-match separates and cool drop-waisted day
dresses ­ and later, blue flower prints on loose, silky skirts and
pyjama-style tops: perfect for slipping into after a post-beach,
pre-dinner shower.

At Temperley, change was afoot ­ rather literally ­ with the advent of
Temperley lace-up trainers. A pair for every single look, no less, and
in-store from February 2015. This was a collection built from the sole
up, with the 'relaxed attitude' of flats imbuing a feeling of chic
easiness to the clothes: long-line, broderie anglaise shirts that peeped
out below tailored crepe trenches; pretty checkerboard jacquards cut into
ornate dress coats; and dresses and playsuits emblazoned with
under-the-sea prints of rope, nets and coral. The va-va-voom  surely
what front-rowers Emilia Fox and Anna Friel were looking out for ­ came
via lattice crystal-work dresses and floaty maxis that fastened with a
crystal clam shell. We like to think Alice would forgive them if they
chose to add heels for the red carpet.

No such dilemmas at Matthew Williamson, where the glamour comes megawatt
or not at all. Williamson was inspired for s/s 2015 by David Bailey's
shots of supermodel Marie Helvin ­ sweetly, she sat front row, sandwiched
between Nicole Scherzinger and Poppy Delevingne ­in his book Chasing
Rainbows. The 1970s hot-house feel was there from the opening
wine-coloured kimono suit through flower- and feather-printed maxi
dresses, high-waisted trousers paired with buttoned-down silk blouses and
one beautifully embroidered bandeau. The showstoppers? Flamenco-style
lace skirts, feather-hemmed cocktail dresses boasting a riot of
technicolour flowers and sequins, and bandage-style mini dresses with
maxi trains that billowed out behind.

'Yes' was the theme for Vivienne Westwood's Red Label this season. Yes to
Scottish independence, that is. Dame V has hardly been reticent on the
subject, but should anyone have been unsure on her stance, every model
that walked her s/s 2015 wore a 'Yes' badge (one, as a choker). While the
politics might be revolutionary, the clothes themselves were unmistakably
Westwood: all exaggerated tailoring, bunchy skirts and bustier-top
dresses. The slinky knit dresses will no doubt go down well with the
Westwood massive; ditto the pretty tiered pieces. But where was all the
tartan, we wondered? Westwood's granddaughter Cora Corré closed the show
in a white off-the-shoulder gown ­ a blank page to be written on in the
future, perhaps, rather than harking back.

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