Flirting with images of east-end punk, Queen-like sophistication, Victorian garb and chic-equestrian wear calls to mind the eclectic and effervescent dress of the British. Yes, Britain gathers all types of muses: Twiggy, Kate Moss, Sienna Miller, Rosamund Pike, Rose Huntington, Peaches Geldof and Georgia Jagger to name a few. And with the grand opening of the flagship American Topshop store in New York on April 2, the Brits must be beaming. And that they are.
The spring 2009 creations over the pond reflect the vibrancy of citrus colors, art deco patterns and charming floral prints that scream anything but soft. The designers packed a punch, of color that is. The forecast for the spring season in London? Bright and brilliant. Whether it’s David Saunders’s playful spring collection of Technicolor rompers or Luella Bartley’s brilliant orange and lavender Mary Janes, the U.K. prepared the best remedy for digging yourself out of the February slump: bright color, graphic art, bold floral prints and the confidence of pure white.
In the three-floor megastore of Topshop on Broadway and Broome in Soho, the collections of young British designers will hit the racks – Christopher Kane, Richard Nicoll, Louise Goldin, Emma Cook and Peter Jensen. Topshop will become your fashion haven, the perfect store to satisfy the newest trend because in this climate, recessionista chic is not an option but a necessity. And these up and comers were only a few of the designers to cast a bright halo over London.
Technicolor stole the show at Richard Nicoll, House of Holland, Nathan Jenden and Sinha-Stanic. Richard Nicoll, who debuted his first collection in 2002, delivered rich citrus hues of pink in floor-length dresses, tailored suits and crisp dresses. The House of Holland, by Henry Holland, left no room for basics. Instead, the polka dot t-shirts paired with daffodil, hydrangea and rose print pants brought eclecticism to a new height, and even an over-the-top visual stimulation. It’s all teen spirit with a bounce of femininity. Sinha-Stanic used neon colors but with a minimalist approach. Think fifties inspired sleeveless jackets and Audrey Hepburn lean ankle pants reinvented in lime greens and hot pinks.
The graphic art designs called for a visual escape into African and Japanese culture. Duro Olowu, born in Nigeria, began his career as a lawyer before entering the fashion world and is known for his strong prints. Awarded “New Designer of the Year” in 2005 at the British Fashion Awards, Olowu has been featured in both U.S. and British Vogue. For spring, Olowu used African-Parisian inspired prints that fused together into a visual overload. It reflected a dreamlike state of swirled green leaves, patterns of blue, mixed in with sharp reds. Basso and Brooke delivered the same but with Japanese inspired patterns. The pieces were quite clean and tailored, which made the prints acceptable and not the least bit overpowering.
Floral prints at Luella and Paul Smith were romantic yet bold. Luella favored a more graphic floral; think 1960s “flower power.” But she also moved away from this psychedelic style and over to lady like dresses, tulle gloves and pearl chain handbags, a perfect model of young royalty. In order to update an older style of boxy jackets and frilled skirts, Luella used orange, pink and mauve to update these classics into statements of color. It was all about updating the girl: pile on the pearls, collegiate blazers and chain bags, all for a delicious show. Paul Smith went for a more sophisticated woman, keeping the look painterly with Monet inspired flowers in floor-sweeping dresses.
And although they live an ocean away, it doesn’t mean the British can’t help their allies out with a little enthusiasm and pleasant spirits much needed over here in the states. So make yourself royally flushed this season and ring in the New Year with a little twist to your take on fashion. You do only live once.