PREVIOUSLY straightforwardly pretty, Issa has experienced a fashion revolution since former Chloe designer Blue Farrier took the helm in 2013. With print at the forefront of her new vision, Farrier’s “balancing act” – between surprising and delighting fashion fans while still keeping the loyal Issa customer happy – continued today in confident style. The label’s signature “fit-and-flare” dresses – so beloved of the Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and her sister, Pippa, as well as the label’s owner Camilla Al Fayed and her stylish gang of friends – were still present alongside plenty of loose, wearable separates and dresses to keep the fashion girls happy.
“The keyword for us this season was movement,” Farrier explained backstage following the show – held on the South Bank’s Queen Elizabeth Hall. “We were inspired by Pop Art prints, but I really wanted to find a way to do it that was interesting and new. We looked to new fabric techniques and of course the prints for that – adding texture and contrast as well as colour.”
With a clear evolution, the offering began with a graphic “wobble” – a softer manifestation of last season’s zig-zag – transforming into horses as the collection progressed, before the equine prints evolved too, from abstract to more classical. A palette-cleansing black, white and cream palette softly introduced peach before the show’s middle section – the jam in the collection’s sandwich, if you will – burst forth in apricot and raspberry hues. The closing third took Farrier’s excitement about texture to new levels – with hand-painted organza flowers appliquéd on to sheer iridescent silks; heat-bonded prints joining the draped jersey that is the label’s bread and butter to pleated silks without so much as a stitch; and chunky fisherman crochet (1,200 metres in one dress alone to be exact) reimagining florals with verve and wit.
“The DNA of Issa is still very much here,” Farrier was careful to note, “we’re just giving it a new point of view.”
THE winning ideas here were to be found in Clare Waight Keller’s series of butter soft suede shorts and shirt combos (in a perfect shade of toffee) and elsewhere in her offering of indigo denim looks, worked into cropped straight-leg jeans, minis, and maxi skirts with cargo pockets. It lent an urban, utilitarian edge to this house and ticked many of the emerging spring trends.
But for better or worse, bohemia is never far from the mood board. Those balloon sleeve blouses, breezy kaftans and romantic cheesecloth dresses suspended from camisole straps and edged in pretty crochet will no doubt appeal to Ibiza types, while full-length goddess gowns anchored with empire line metal work will be just the ticket for a summer wedding.
Today, Clare Waight Keller dedicated her collection to Chloe’s founding designer, Gaby Aghion, who sadly passed away yesterday at her home in Paris age 93.
IT wasn’t shaping up to be a particularly starry front row, until just before the lights went down and Kim, Kanye and baby North (in a Balenciaga full look of course) took their front row seats.
Isn’t she cute! Isn’t she well behaved? The rest of the room went gaga for baby North momentarily and then an intensity as bright as the paparazzi bulbs snapping her image followed. And then it was time to turn our attention to the clothes.
Alexander Wang’s love of modernism, black, and a glossy finish was out in full effect (albeit it with hint at Cristobel Balenciaga’s legacy) as an army of girls stormed down the runway. The tailored fluidity of floor-length overcoats whispered archive – think a Balenciaga balloon jacket seen through a Matrix movie prism, and the precise cut (the black jumpsuits with embellished pockets were particularly articulate) reminded us of the skill of the house, but the tone was (of course) sporty, there was no romance here.
Rather than the sumptuous gowns of Balenciaga way back when, this show offered a modern girl fresh take on cocktail dressing, and sporty looks to go luxe level clubbing in. Jumpsuits, sheer-sleeved short suits and halter necklines, and mesh – tons of mesh and techy fabrics.
The final pastel section softened the show. And Kim’s favourite look? A white mesh top with a band of crystals across the décolletage seemed to pique her interest, in fact you could see her in most of what was on show here.
And what about North? Even she clapped at the end (with the help of her doting father of course).