Sophie Hulme's dino-mite presentation

‘The whole collection is based on toy dinosaurs and fisherman’s jumpers,' Sophie Hulme explained as a group of models paraded her A/W '12 looks in Somerset House's Portico Rooms. 'It all goes from there.’

It was a tongue-in-cheek starting point for a designer who, far from heading for extinction, is thriving, attracting heaps of acclaim and more admirers by the minute thanks to her fashion-led classics.

'Toy dinosaurs are amazing because they have these fantastic colours that graduate from one colour to another—the toymakers don't know what colours they were, so they just paint their skins pink and blue, which is quite entertaining,' Hulme said. The dino-hues roared onto mohair jumpers in panels of pink that bled into grey backgrounds. Dinosaurs also made it into the collection in necklaces of linked gold-tone charms and a particularly disarming wool lace in which Stegosauri and T-rexes marched nose to tail.

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The lace ran over parkas and skirts, as well as down the sides of silk blouses like the one Hulme wore (and gamely invited press to handle). 'That took a lot of development with different people,' she said. 'We had to get it hand-made for sampling, then it was all produced in Switzerland.'

The lengths Hulme went to to perfect her lace proves that there was more to this collection than child's play. Effortless silk dresses and poppy fair-isle knits aside, 2012 will be the year that Sophie Hulme could compete with Burberry on the outerwear front—aesthetically, at least—due to her simply outstanding coats. These came in grey wool with strips of black leather down the sleeves and in heavy double wool with fisherman-knit sleeves. A neat black coat with mirrored gold shards arrayed over the bodice was formal enough for cocktail parties and winter weddings.

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Hulme also moved her metal-plated bags along, introducing a softer, smaller version with more subtle plating. In one of the smartest collaborations we've seen at LFW, she worked with Globetrotter to create a briefcase and suitcase integrating that signature armour detailing. Canniness like that is what leads a young designer to land in Liberty, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges, all before her first on-schedule presentation. The downright dreamy clothes and accessories? Those help too.

Click here to see the full collection

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