The whimsical dream of a country garden has long been a staple for London fashion. But you don’t have to be a British designer to understand the power of the flower
Paul Smith: In an English country garden
Plantings of very English wild flowers, all delicate wild grasses and pastel petals, turned the floor of an urban building into a meadow for Paul Smith’s show. The designer seemed to throw his heart into this collection, decorating sporty separates with bold blooms, as on the zippered top of running trousers, or faded florals on a cotton skirt. A golden orange that dominated the show added a feeling of succulence.
In fact, Paul found his inspiration not so much in the earth as in the camera. From his show notes, it seemed that he had used his own photographic floral prints as the template for hand-drawn or woven work on cloth, making this collection genuinely artistic.
The colours of these casual clothes — say a big artist shirt over cotton shorts or a V-neck dress flaring out at the calf — were painterly and what the designer called “of muted vibrancy”, inspired
by an exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery earlier this year of Swedish artist Hilma af Klint.
This show was not a dramatic departure from the Paul Smith vision. But the nature element, whether as embroidery or printing, gave a firm statement to the fluid clothes.
The show ended with the designer leaping across his man-made meadow like a lamb in springtime. But then, after this orgy of an English summer garden, he had earned the right to enjoy it.
Peter Pilotto: Tropical Baroque
The invitation alone, with its yellow and pink sun and sea-blue hand holding a miniature aeroplane, put the audience in a merry mood at Peter Pilotto. The design duo of Christopher de Vos and Peter Pilotto promised a visual paradise under the headline of “Tropical Baroque”. The message was a more exotic version of the fashion theme of saying it with flowers.
When loose, long, boldly patterned floral dresses were not sweeping the floor, short tops with child-like flower drawings accompanied gilded, flower-printed trousers down the runway. Any way that the duo could promote the idea of Baroque included gilded fabrics and trimmings or even a golden bra visible through the open breast of a dress decorated with palm trees.
The result was lush and louche — and a lot of fun. But the clothes were also well cut and as wearable as they were desirable. The Latino summer vibe brought exotic macramé necklets filling the throat space, but there were also more casual pieces, especially pale, washed denim trousers mixed with gingham checks.
Maybe it is the English fashion climate that breeds work that is both erudite and easy. For all the artistic references, from sun-bleached frescoes to London-based sculptor Francis Upritchard, the Peter Pilotto collection was simple, if striking, and lived up to its name as a tropical treasure.