Mary Katrantzou is a designer who finds unusual harmony in chaotic prints, much as Jonathan Saunders is a designer who achieves great effects through unexpected combinations of color. These two bright stars of London Fashion Week are very fine examples of the city’s upbeat and ambitious view of the future, creating stirring collections at a breakneck pace.
Katrantzou specifically cited chaos in her thinking about her Spring 2016 collection, which was shown on a runway with an enormous mirrored backdrop that created an infinite effect, and offered multiple views at the same time of her puzzle-like designs. They combined collages of miniature floral prints, delicate quilting, tiers of ruffles, skirts with godet inserts, and glittering crystals on mini dresses that sparkled much as stars in the cosmos.
While her pieces fall squarely into the category of extremely decorative, there is actually a great deal of thought that goes into their creation, which this season recalled the graphic work of Ossie Clark and Stephen Burrows—if transformed through a glitter machine. Her prints were inspired both by ancient cosmology and the splotches of a Rorschach test, so you could read anything you wanted into them and not go wrong.
Saunders, too, created fascinating combinations through fabric blocking, with mixed stripes in pale blue and khaki, red and rust stripes, and three or more tones of paisley in a single ensemble. In fact, rainbow palettes are turning into the big story of London, even in the accessories of Paul Smith, whose handbags were designed with accordion-like sides, expanding with a different shade within each of the folds.
Another big trend: meet the belted jacket, seen in Smith’s neutral suits that were belted with a chunky leather knot. This was also the main story of the Topshop Unique collection, which featured men’s tailored jackets over polka dot slips and pajama-like sportswear. A standout of the show was a delicate lace dress embroidered with ivy, which was rendered also in a Wedgewood print.