Rocha and Conran pass fashion test with flying colours


Pop diva Rihanna may have stolen the limelight at London Fashion Week at the weekend with her River Island collection, but elsewhere talented fashion designers proved their mettle with diverse ideas about winter dressing.

John Rocha presented an upbeat collection bursting with colour and exuberance while remaining faithful to his familiar Victorian silhouette and rich, handworked textures.

Maybe his love of fly-fishing influenced the salmon-pink colour of the slinky jersey dresses and oversize mohair coats. But it was the Sally Gap in Co Wicklow that prompted the vivid greens on coats tightly belted at the waist over stiffened skirts.

“I wanted to cheer people up,” he said backstage, referring to shapely crochet dresses in yellow and pink, worn with clouds of tulle millinery and blocky patent shoes.

Thoroughbred style

There was also a lot of colour in Jasper Conran’s fine collection. A mix of violet with green and ginger with caramel were used in boxy suits and shift dresses, a thoroughbred style rarely seen in his high-street offerings.

There was a lovely fuss-free collection from Margaret Howell, whose soft military-style coats, kilts and handknits have a refreshing, quiet refinement.

Orla Kiely’s palette belongs firmly to the 1950s and 1960s. Her presentation, a recreation of a Mad Men-style typing pool, was a novel way of highlighting ladylike mini dresses and coats in daisy velvet jacquards and flower-printed organza skirts worn with angora jumpers.

Environment, ethics and sustainability are the concerns of designer Christopher Raeburn. His streetwise collection using many reappropriated fabrics featured parkas, duffel coats and backpacks in shadow grey checks, sporty mesh dresses and zig-zag quilted bombers.

It was a fresh take on familiar urban wear, a theme also explored at Topshop’s show. Here, wide skirts in shiny patent, oversize slouchy jackets and prints based on British carpets offered proportions and textures of debatable allure.