Late Sunday night at Loulou’s, one of London’s posh private clubs, Selena Gomez and Cara Delevingne were posing for selfies in a doorway. Michelle Williams (pictured above, with Nicolas Ghesquière) walked by looking so chic in a little black dress that even Catherine Deneuve, who was also there, remarked that she thought so. Lily Donaldson, the British model, took off a fuzzy white long-haired lamb jacket to reveal the light camisole she was wearing beneath. Then she put it back on to walk around the party.
“The polar bear is back!” she roared.
This was at a dinner party thrown by the Louis Vuitton artistic director Nicolas Ghesquière on the occasion of a traveling exhibition that had reached London that evening. Called “Series 3,” the show, on display on 180 The Strand until October 18, shows the fall 2015 collection in an unusually revealing new light, and actually with so much light in one room that visitors thought they were entering a futuristic operating theater in space. Laser projections trace the construction of its handbags and accessories. Trunks fitted with video monitors detailed the craftsmanship behind the bags.
In one display, a Louis Vuitton artisan is at work creating one of Ghesquière’s Petite Malle (or little trunk) hard-sided bags, and invited visitors to ask her anything at all about them.
“Can I have it when you’re finished?” asked one.
No. But guests were offered their choice of bags in the form of stickers, which have been a huge hit at previous stops on the Series tour and were flying off the walls at this party, too.
But the ultimate moment of the week was undoubtedly a surprise performance by Alison Moyet at the Burberry Prorsum show on Monday, accompanied by an orchestra. Moyet was the vocalist of the '80s band Yazoo (known as Yaz in the United States), drawing tears, or at least chills, from the more seasoned members of the audience. (And no, I am not yet willing to consider “Only You” to be an oldie.) Kate Moss, Sienna Miller, Benedict Cumberbatch, and many more celebrities took in the performance, and it was the perfect choice for this collection.
Both sentimental and seductive, this season’s designs by Christopher Bailey, chief creative and chief executive officer of the label, marked a strong departure. On the sentimental side were schoolgirl toggle coats and monogrammed nylon backpacks that had a decidedly British sense of functionality about them, but on the seductive side were some incredibly lightweight dresses, in intricate macramé lace with technical mesh insets (both pictured, below). The fabrics came from St. Gallen in Switzerland, and were extraordinary when seen up close in the Burberry showroom the following day.
Having taken on such an enormous responsibility for Burberry’s creative and financial direction over the last year, Bailey may have found a way to please both masters. His collection was one of the most emotionally satisfying of the London season, and also commercially minded with those monogrammed backpacks, one of which I saw that very evening when I had dinner at Chiltern Firehouse, worn by Delevingne, who was showing it off to Suki Waterhouse. Oh, there were lots of celebrities there, too, by the way.
I saw Maria Grazia Chiuri, one half of the Valentino creative team, on my way in, though almost didn’t recognize her with a newly blonde hairdo. On the way out, I saw Jeremy Piven, known here as Mr. Selfridge.
Meanwhile, the number of designers who show collections in London continues to grow, with increasingly mature collections from hot labels like Peter Pilotto, Thomas Tait, and Marques’ Almeida. Unfortunately, so too does the traffic, made worse by the arrival of the World Rugby Cup this week, causing many out-of-town editors to catch not as many shows as they would have liked. Even the models had a hard time getting around, holding up the Christopher Kane show on Monday, which was a surprisingly colorful collage of clear plastic, neon lace, and fringe in designs inspired by John Chamberlain sculptures, particularly of car crashes (pictured, below).
“Crash and repair, that’s what we kept saying to each other,” Kane said in his press release.
The results were sometimes amusing, like high-heels with drips of paint falling from the soles. And sometimes disturbing, as with models who wore neon Christopher Kane-branded plastic zip-ties as scrunchies, or worse, wrapped around their necks.