Saturday, 19 September 2009

A Mixed Day

My day started with the sound of seagulls, which gave me a bit of a shock as I hear them all the time when I am at my house on the seafront but not in London. it was a deja vu moment; unfortunately not the only one as the day wore on.

The sea gulls introduced us to the spring–summer collection of Margaret Howells, one of London's tried and trusted names who's worth is often overlooked in the desperate search for new names in this city that, uniquely, does nothing to honour the people who have kept London fashion going for so many of the years we are currently being asked to celebrate. I have in all honesty often felt that Margaret Howells was a little too understaed but this time I loved what she showed. Totally English, as decorous as Frinton on a Sunday afternoon and full of the quiet confidence that reminds me of the comment from the thirties that French women are chic, American women are glamorous, but only Englsh women are elegant. Carefully chosen, this collection could provide a woman of any age with a wardrobe for every possible way of life because it was both modern and nostalgic.

By contrast, Jenny Packham's runway was terrifying in the way it looked back. I waqs transported to the bad old days of the London ragtrade as the audience at her show was subjected to a parade of party dresses – not a jacket, skirt or pair of pants to be seen – which had everything in glorious profusion… and confusion. Spangles, frills, diamante and huge stones turned every frock (the only word to describe what we saw) into an Oxford Street fantasy of the Christmas tree fairy. I am sure it will sell, but do such clothes have a place on the official Fashion Week schedule? I don't see how.

Danielle Scutt was much more interesting in that, after all, she did have at least three coherent and different ideas, some of which were strong and directional, and others that were interesting fantasies which at times looked like fancy dress for a Vicars and Tarts party, minus the vicars. But even there, once you stripped off the trappings (ridiculous hair and marvellous sparkly lipstick) you were left with ideas: Lichtenstein 'Oh Brad' spots and colours, including a rich yellow with the spots in black, and a lot of candy pink made this collection a strong print statement for those in the audience who didn't quite understand everything (including me at times) to hang onto.

I didn't receive an invitation to see the show of Mark Fast but some people liked it a lot, despite the fact that it was the start of the day. Instead, I had a civilised breakfast with a friend at Princi, a little bit of authentic Italy in the middle of Soho, where I live when I am in London.

Tonight I am off to The Fantastic Man party (no, not named in my honour!) and dinner at Harrods for the relaunch of their international designer collection. How inspired is that in the week celebrating London fashion?