Julien Macdonald, one of London's most flamboyant designers, dished up show stopping, jewel and sequin-encrusted evening gowns fit for a red carpet entrance Saturday. Not to be outdone, Ashish Gupta also adorned all his outfits with sequins, although here the clothes were torn jeans and hoodies, and the mood is much more ghetto cool than opulent soiree.
Not everything was flashy and exuberant, though. At the other end of the spectrum, veteran designer John Rocha went for a much more understated and poetic look, with a restrained, largely monochromatic colour palette and flowing, ankle-length dresses adorned with rose appliques and lace.
It all goes to show the remarkable diversity at play at London Fashion Week, which displays catwalk shows from almost 60 designers this season. The 5-day event will get more hectic from Sunday onward, with the big labels — Vivienne Westwood, Temperley, Tom Ford and the heritage brands Burberry and Mulberry — all showing their latest womenswear on a busy schedule.
Designers also showing on Saturday included Mark Fast, David Koma and celebrity favourite Henry Holland.
Romance reigned at Rocha's show, a collection of long silk dresses, roses and a black and ivory palette lightened up with quiet bursts of floral colour.
The veteran Dublin-based designer set a whimsical mood with long and flowing dresses, the tops often sheer or semi-sheer. The outfits topped with matching, asymmetrical long-brimmed hats.
"I want romance. I want people to be happy in their relationships," Rocha said.
Some of the black outfits were less successful — the oversized hats looked a bit forbidding — but the black and gold ensembles with cutouts were impressive.
Whatever the trends are, Macdonald can always be counted on to dazzle with sparkly and ultra-sexy dresses. This season was no different: there were tight little dresses, long flowing gowns and bodysuits, all encrusted in metallic toned sequins and jewels.
Many of the outfits left little to the imagination. Some are open down both sides of the body, held together only by cobweb-like crochet patterns and lace work. Macdonald doesn't do subtlety, and the only toned-down elements here are the colour scheme, featuring only nude, peachy tones, light gold, silver and black, as well as the simple make up and slicked back ponytails.
Macdonald came out at the end, beaming with one model on each arm — but not before a burst of gold confetti came down on the catwalk with a bang.
"These clothes are for women who want to be women," he said after the show. "Just have fun and enjoy fashion."
Delhi-born designer Ashish Gupta sent his models — including a couple of male ones — down the catwalk in torn jeans, hoodies, racer back vests, denim jackets, animal prints and colorful stripes, all totally covered in sequins. Mismatched colorful socks, punk hair, and huge tribal jewelry complete the look.
The star of the show, however, was the sequined shopping bag. Models carried a sequined version of plastic grocery carrier bags, the kind you get when you go to a no-name corner store. For effect, the bags were bulging with a pineapple or bananas poking out.
It's a big mash-up of pop, urban, glamorous and ethnic dressing, and it's not for everyone. Ashish has dressed celebrities from Madonna to Katy Perry, and it's those kinds of big personalities who will relish in wearing clothes like these.
Associated Press writer Gregory Katz contributed to this report.