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The Best and Worst of London’s Fashion Week Spring 2012

Even with the sad departure of visionary Alexander McQueen, global interest in British fashion has increased by leaps and bounds over the past year, thanks, in part to Duchess Kate Middleton and her equally famous sister. With the eyes of the (fashion) world on London, did the collections rise to the occasion? Here are the best and worst of London’s Fashion Week Spring 2012.
  • Best: Peter Pilotto

    There’s no room for shrinking violets this spring season: Peter Pilotto threw down the gauntlet on “been-there-done-that” tropical prints with obscenely large florals and bright multi-chromatic hues. Inspired by a scuba-diving trip to Indonesia, Pilotto’s sporty, sexy dresses dripped in fish-scales and mismatched prints that, despite a bizarre take on the hibiscus, exuded a surprisingly energetic elegance. If you want to get noticed, this violently colourful collection is for you.

    Photo courtesy of Starworks Group and Peter Pilotto

  • Worst: Meadham Kirchhoff

    Heads up, Meadham Kirchhoff: Harajuku girls are so 2004. From an entertainment standpoint, the over-the-top spectacle, including can-can girls and ballerinas dancing around a giant birthday cake, was a visual feast of pastel balloons and childhood nostalgia. But infantilizing women (or sexualizing girlhood) is totally uncool, even under the guise of satire. Meadham Kirchhoff’s candy-colored, cartoon collection is unforgettable, but for all the wrong reasons.

    Photo courtesy of Goodley PR and Meadham Kirchhoff

  • Best: Erdem

    Once again, Erdem lived up to its “editor’s favorite” reputation. His Monet-print collection evokes a prim English garden party with a subtle undercurrent of eroticism. The ultra-feminine dresses—in delicate textures like sheer organza and silk—poised on the brink between girlish innocence and grown-up seduction, while the sweet short-suits, fitted sheath dresses, and neat gloves are perfect for an afternoon wedding.

    Photo courtesy of RelativeMO Publicity and Erdem

  • Worst: Mulberry

    After a truly stellar Autumn 2011 collection, lightning did not strike twice for Mulberry’s Creative Director Emma Hill. Cheekily designed anoraks and ribbed leggings paid homage to traditionally rainy English summers. But while the clothes were disappointing, the stars of the show were Mulberry’s exquisitely designed handbags. (The namesake of Mulberry’s most popular bag, Alexa Chung, lit up the front row along with Kate Moss and Kristen Stewart.) The British seaside boardwalk inspired the cotton-candy hair and poorly tailored sherbet-colored frocks. But as the models sauntered out of a larger-than-life clown mouth, one can’t help thinking Mulberry might benefit from letting go of elaborate themes and concentrating on the clothes.

    Photo courtesy of KCD Worldwide Publicity and Mulberry

  • Best: Jaeger London

    Inspired by the glamour of the late 60s jet-set elite, Jaeger London’s beautiful (and instantly covetable) collection would be perfect for a luxurious island getaway. Textural summer tweeds were particularly pretty, while Broderie Anglaise dresses floated elegantly off the models. Feminine details like cute pleats and scalloped hems in bright, summer colorscompleted the luxe, ladylike feel.

    Photo courtesy of Jaeger London

  • Worst: Jena.Theo

    Although Jena.Theo’s “Fatale” collection was (allegedly) inspired by 1940s film noir, no trace of the tough femme fatale sexiness was evident in the lazy designs. One can’t imagine Joan Crawford slinking about in harem pants and various states of deshabilles. While there were a few standout looks (a black-and-white striped caftan was very Bianca Jagger on Ibiza), the unfinished construction proved distracting and amateurish.

    Photo courtesy of Snow PR and Jena.Theo

  • Best: Temperley London

    Pippa Middleton graced the front row at Temperley London’s Spring 2012 show, and no wonder: the brand’s “high-society” collection is perfect for the most recent addition to the Royal Family. Citing Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface and Grace Kelly in High Society, Temperley bridged the gap between those two (very) different glamazons with sensual, tailored satin gowns, elaborate beading, and languid draping.

    Photo courtesy of Temperley London

  • Best: Jean-Pierre Braganza

    Braganza’s Art-Deco inspired collection was an instant hit with critics; the über-sexy cutout detailing and sophisticated, clean lines evoked an architectural geometry. Warm tangerines and cantelope colors softened the edgy club-kid aesthetic. But his sky-high futuristic heels stole the show, perfect for stomping through the urban jungle.

    Photo courtesy of TRACE Publicity and Jean-Pierre Braganza

  • Worst: Margaret Howell

    When _Vogue_UK’s editor Alexandra Shulman stifles one of several yawns during your collection, it’s probably not a good sign. Howell aimed for the incisively elegant minimalism of Jil Sander or Yohji Yamamoto, but fell closer to the Gap. After the third plain shirtdress appeared, it ceased to matter whether the dress was chambray, raspberry, or a cheery striped print. A weary sense of déjà vu settled over the subdued crowd (the placid Joni Mitchell soundtrack didn’t help much).

    Photo courtesy of Modus Publicity and Margaret Howell

  • Worst: Danielle Scutt

    Danielle Scutt’s bizarre mash-up soundtrack of Tuapc and somber classical music elicited a few suppressed titters from the audience, an eccentricity that pervaded the confused (and confusing) collection. Literal references to her “Thug Life” theme included marijuana tee-shirts hastily pinned over loud polka dots and acid-wash denim jumpsuits. Next time, Ms. Scutt, let’s leave “da hood” in the hood, shall we?

    Photo courtesy of IPR London and Danielle Scutt

  • Best: Burberry Prorsum

    Never one to reject modern interpretations of the heritage brand, wunderkind designer Christopher Bailey revived a worn-out tribal theme while staying true to bread-and-butter classics. The Burberry trench appeared in chartreuse or African kente cloth; front row beauties Sienna Miller and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley beamed at chevron prints in Egyptian jewel tones, wide obi belts, and raffia accessories. Bailey expertly played with proportions, pairing a flat shoe with a full midi skirt. Bailey has also spearheaded the label’s recent technological ubiquity, from live Twitter takeover during this season’s show to a real-time catwalk stream at Piccadilly Circus. Bravo, Burberry!

    Photos courtesy of Burberry Prorsum

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