Simone Rocha wows London with delicate and whimsical collection

London Fashion Week: JW Anderson tipped for the top after winter collection that transcended gender lines

 

Irish designers Simone Rocha and JW Anderson were the stars of London Fashion Week at the weekend sending out what many consider to be their most accomplished – and commercial – collections to date.

Simone Rocha’s collection played to her singular ability to translate deep feminine impulses into desirable attire for both day and evening wear. Her delicate fabrics – tulle, lace, tinsel and brocade became ornate confections embellished with crystal decor, puff sleeves and flying ribbons. Whimsical and fairytale with a touch of the 18th century, the dresses were counterpointed with handsome takes on black and grey trouser suits – using bows, ruffles and other girlish accoutrements in an alluring way.

The sweet milkmaid-style dresses trailing gold threads looked dreamy and ethereal, subverted by a number of punkish tartan dresses, but a black winter coat made of heavy silk and lace and studded with jet could certainly quicken a woman’s heart. Notable throughout was the emphasis on handwork, recalling the craftsmanship of her father, John Rocha, and the colourful crystal earrings and furry slippers are bound to be winter best sellers.

Raf Simons tips JW Anderson

JW Anderson, from Northern Ireland and the son of rugby legend Willie Anderson, continues to earn widespread recognition both as an independent designer and as creative director of Loewe, the Spanish heritage brand .

Awarded Designer of the Year for both his womenswear and menswear collections by the British Fashion Council 2015 in a historic double first, he scored again last year winning the Womenswear Designer of the Year award. He has just launched a collaboration with the Japanese global brand Uniqlo with a collection he calls “old school with a preppy twist” that goes on sale in April.

Held in his usual location, Yeomanry House in Bloomsbury, Anderson mixed womenswear and menswear seamlessly with a winter collection that transcended gender lines. “Women often buy men’s clothes,” he commented afterwards “and it is how you bring those wardrobes together.” That meant duffel coats, sheepskins and cabled knits that worked equally well over handkerchief pointed  skirts as they did over baggy trousers.

Long dresses with dropped waists looked easygoing but were exquisitely detailed and elegant. Colours were mostly earthy – khaki, brown and cream – chiming with a strange centrepiece installation by Belgian artist Martin Belou. The designer Raf Simons, formerly of Dior and now creative head of Calvin Klein was one of the front row guests. “All his collections are great – he will be huge,” he told The Irish Times afterwards.

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