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London calling

Romance, pastels and floral accents highlight influential fashion forum

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LONDON -- There were bursts of sunshine yellow, blooms evoking tropical gardens and lots of pastel confections: As the rest of us unpack our warm coats and hunker down for the wintry season, the fashion elite are already looking ahead to the trends for the spring shown at London Fashion Week.

Although London is known for being the most eclectic and unpredictable of the fashion capitals, there were a few themes that emerged from the dozens of runways. Romance was in the air for many designers, with many catwalks awash in pretty pastels, petal appliques and floral prints and embellishments. All shades of pink were popular.

Temperley London went for the kind of classic old Hollywood glamour it relishes, with grand silk ball gowns and matching opera coats in shades of rose, powdery carnation pink and rich fuchsias, while at Burberry feminine sheer lace pencil dresses in sugary pastels were worn with soft cashmere sweaters and coats for a sophisticated and sexy look. Preen chose to feature a bright neon pink, which appeared on plastic and rubberized dresses and raincoats.

Volume was big, too, with many trapeze shapes and floor-sweeping gowns and wide-leg trousers seen at shows including Mulberry and Erdem.

This being London, many designers were impossible to fit into any talk of trends. Vivienne Westwood produced a collection featuring her signature draped dresses and tailored separates, though the designs were sidelined by a dance performance with an environmentalist message by model Lily Cole.

Christopher Kane, known for his quirky designs, showed futuristic dresses that looked like they could be Star Trek costumes and floral prints that looked like textbook illustrations.

Bay Garnett, a stylist for British Vogue, said Kane and Meadham Kirchhoff, which showed Tuesday, stood out as two of her highlights of the week because they were so creative."It's so imaginative. It's the kind of eclecticism, the kind of spirit of Britishness, I think," she said.

Asked which looks she expected to see copied in shops in spring, she said: "I haven't gotten that far yet. I'm just looking around and taking in the ideas."

Many in attendance must be thinking the same, as they pack up and head for two more weeks of preview shows in Milan and Paris.

Stella McCartney ditched the catwalk and took her audience to the gym instead for her new season sportswear collection for Adidas.

The British designer had her models wear cropped sweatshirts, stretch bodysuits and daisy print shorts in bright yellow, aqua and tropical lime as they danced, cycled and performed aerial yoga.

A team of four synchronized swimmers sporting black bathing suits with side cutouts even put on a performance in a swimming tank.

"Some people just wear black on black, put their head down and get on with their sport and then get changed," she told The Associated Press. "To me this is a celebration of who you are when you're working out, and not sacrificing in any way your style."

Anglo-French design duo Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff's show rounded off the week with a typically theatrical collection that mashed up Victorian lace, beautifully tailored blazers, whimsical apron dresses and lots of quirky accessories.

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 21, 2013 D13

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