Spring/Summer 2015 Mulberry

MULBERRY might still be without an official captain at the helm following the departure of Emma Hill last year but that doesn’t seem to be causing it any problem. In fact, the luxury fashion label is very much embracing this as time to redefine and work out what it’s all about, go back to its rich heritage, rekindle that British charm and make it modern and youthful – and all with Fran Stringer, head of ready-to-wear design, leading the way.

And while last season we had the distraction of Cara Delevingne’s new bag line over any clothes, that was set right – something that started with the pre-collection earlier this year. Kew Gardens continued to be inspiration, only this time – as Stringer noted – with the addition of some “hero flowers”. Mulberry is back in bloom and an English country garden very much its motivation.

So what do you need to know? Well delphiniums are the flower of choice – featuring as blown up illustration prints on elegant any-occasion dresses or as lacework on blouses; gardening clogs are no longer only for the home, rendered here in colourful jacquard; trellis is cool – worked into perforated leather jackets and dresses; parkas are de rigueur; grandad cardigans can bring sparkle to any outfit, because here with glitter they do; and one bag can actually be six. Yep, you read right.

The Delphie is the bag to note – a clutch, a handbag, a satchel, or all and any of the above, the idea here is catering for multiple occasions by lengthening magic straps and unbuttoning the front fold to reveal a new colour or fabrication and thus a new bag. Impressive stuff – and ideally catering for today’s time-poor but style-seeking folk.

And that, in fact, is the overall crux of this collection: parkas over pretty dresses; outfits for the British summer social calendar (think the arts, the Serpentine), utilitarian but romantic with it – how to straddle today’s dress codes. But make them appropriately “Mulberry” too.

A final note for those wondering if it was the day for the grand creative director reveal – no.

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Spring/Summer 2015 Louis Vuitton

IN truth, Nicolas Ghesquiére had us at hello. Everything surrounding Louis Vuitton show was nothing short of spectacular. It began with the awe-inspiring sight of the new Louis Vuitton Foundation, a Frank Gehry-designed curvaceous mega space in Paris’s Bois de Boulogne that gleaned in the morning sunlight atop a rippling pond like a gargantuan spaceship. The sight of it might just be the most Instagrammed picture of the entire season.

Show goers meandered their way around it, snapping from every angle before making their way downstairs through a maze of open-mirrored corridors and into its dark basement with walls of transparent screens, its runway lit by nothing more than the strong beams of spotlight rows (stand in one and you might just be beamed up to somewhere else on planet Louis Vuitton).

It turned out, those transparent screens were projectors where models’ faces appeared to deliver a welcome monologue, describing the Foundation as a “ship surrounded by a woodland” and ending it with, “the journey starts here”. It all felt eerily sci-fi. With that, Simon and Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence played out and Londoner Jean Campbell emerged.

Ghesquiére built on his girl of last season, with a collection that skimmed from preppy to Americana to Seventies. This cool retro A-line silhouette continued, now pieced together in diagonal stripes of navy and red eel skin. It developed into a tapestry-printed velvet line up of cropped flares and quilted biker jackets, button-bibbed white woven dresses and others covered in black micro sequins. There were so many desirable separates; belted cargo jackets, raw indigo denim jeans with just enough interest going on with the seaming, and white leather trousers printed in all kinds of matter, from matchstick boxes to hairdryers to headphones.

The bags also got a starring role here today: a denim-looking leather purse with chain strap, and stonking clasp mechanism; the new LV logo (the very same one shines like a beacon from outside the Foundation in hammered silver) is the one to covet now.

Ghesquiére cemented his arrival at this house and confidently swept his audience up in the bold new direction in which he’s steering this mothership, the jewel in the LVMH crown. We were all aboard, and then some. The music, the venue, the casting, the believability of these clothes, his girl, the execution of it all combined, arguably made it the show of the season.Untitled

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Spring/Summer 2015 Hermès

So to Hermes, the last show of the spring season and the last too for Christophe Lemaire, who bows out after four years to concentrate on his own eponymous line. He will be replaced by Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski, who arrives from The Row.
Lemaire’s beachscape catwalk was immaculately swept with brushes by seven attendants in white boiler suits seconds before the show started – this is Hermes and footprints in the sand just won’t do, nor, for that matter, will clothes that are too off-duty, too geared towards the casual (down days are handled differently over here). No, we are not in for a carefree holiday, wherever an Hermes woman is jetting off to for her vacation, she will be packing a trunk load of water snake, crocodile and double-face cashmere.

The idea of wrapping was evident from the start; buttermilk-coloured water snake dresses featured shawl necklines, it gave the idea of cocooning and protection. Elsewhere, crisp poplin white shirts and side-slit skirts had a length of suede that wrapped around the waist and knotted in a sash. Another highlight was the inky blue leather shirt and tailored indigo Capri jeans combo, and the blown-up scarf prints, which were transferred onto loose, tonal bordeaux suede dresses.

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Spring/Summer 2015 Gucci

When a house like Gucci taps into the Seventies it does it with a sense of conviction that’s unparalleled. The decade was a Gucci heyday and Frida Giannini, a Seventies girl at heart, must have delighted in the making of this spring collection.

It was convincing from the get-go: from the opening look – a narrow-shouldered button-through A-line skirt suit rendered in white leather – to the toffee-coloured suede coat dresses with stonking gold marine buttons; this collection zinged with confidence.

Blue denim – a Giannini favourite – was worked into swingy cropped culottes with exaggerated turn-ups and natty shirt dresses with maxi white shoelaces criss-crossing up the sleeves and across plunging necklines. Blousy boho dresses in subdued retro prints were topped with gilets bursting in deluxe patchworks, crafted from snakeskin, Mongolian and glossy goat hair.

The palette – and those furs and suedes leaned more towards autumn than summer – something that seems to be less of a trend and more of the norm in many of the collections to date. It’s now the job of the resort collections in which to flaunt summer colours and fabrics. These clothes will land in store in February, at a time when most of us aren’t thinking about shedding our coat – let alone much else.

Shorter hemlines did all point to one thing: the floor-skimming gown is officially over – suddenly, even the very idea of it seems outdated. Instead, Giannini proposed Oriental-style dresses with Mandarin collars and embroideries as precious as an antique piano shawl.

This collection had sass, glamour and commerciality in spades – and that’s not even counting the stacked heel suede boots and leather saddle bags in polished antique tan – everything in fact that women want from Gucci. Kate Moss and Charlotte Casiraghi (who is the new face of Gucci cosmetics – a new category debuting today with Pat McGrath as artistic director) applauded from the front row. Either one of them would look terrific in any and all of it.

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