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Milan Fashion Week diary

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Fashion Director Alexandra Fullerton waxes colourful about the bold prints, zingy shades and Seventies glamour that trended at Milan Fashion Week...

Tuesday 5th October

Milan. The city synonymous with sexy glamour produced a week of stand-out shows. Spring 2011 is set to be bright and bold.

When Gucci opened the show with supermodel Raquel Zimmerman showing off an orange blazer, purple bandeau and turquoise tapered trousers it confirmed that zingy colours would become a major Spring trend. Seventies glamour played a big part too and the collection segued into neutrals, ochre, black - and tassels - for some seriously sexy eveningwear.

Scottish designer and LFW must-see Christopher Kane also moonlights at Versus Versace's second line and the clever cut-away details, hyper-tight stripes, bold plaids mismatched with ditsy florals and precision draped pieces look set to become another a sell-out collection.

Dolce & Gabbana railed against their sexy bombshell stereotype and created a collection of pure white pieces with plenty of sheers - the non-colour of the season. An occasional flash of leopard print teamed with lace or a subtle floral broke up the parade of purity: A collection full of refreshing must-wears.

Roberto Cavalli celebrated 40 years in the business with his Spring show. Congratulations! Soft faded pastels and stormy shades, miles of silky tassels and the slinky bohemian sexiness Cavalli's renowned for made it a collection you'll be seeing far more of.

With pared down simplicity Prada showed a collection that we'd describe as totally fresh - although Mrs Prada prefers "brave and bold". Jolts of colour (brights again) appeared on a series of simple shifts, suits and skirts before stripes, rococo swirls and banana prints took a turn. Brave? Indeed. Bold? Yes. Can't wait to wear? 100%.

London Fashion Week

Wednesday 22nd September - pm

It was a week of highs (the heels) and lows (the hemlines). London lived up to its reputation as a hotbed of creativity, showing a diverse array of stand-out collections from new designers presenting their first solo show (Michael van der Ham’s mesmerising patchworks) to must-see names (Christopher Kane blew everyone away with his intricate cutwork in neon colours) and established brands.

As always, the week gets busier towards the end as international press fly into town to see the big names shows. Burberry Prorsum, who showed on Tuesday at the Chelsea College of Arts, saw a stellar turnout. Sarah Jessica Parker sat immediately opposite Stylist in the front row and Alexa Chung – and the assembled press and buyers – swooned for Christopher Bailey’s cool, metallic biker girl vision. Leather is set to be a big trend for Summer with edgy girl on a motorcycle details a big story. Leather also appeared with a luscious metallic sheen at Henry Holland, along with pleats – the detail of the season. Whether you wear them head to toe or as a bold detail, get ready for an onslaught.

The Seventies trend that emerged in New York continued in London. Giles and Roksanda Ilincic both tastefully embraced the decade that style forgot. Prepare for floaty high-waisted trousers to be everywhere next Spring. Throughout the week we oohed at trails of chiffon flowing from dresses, skirts and blouses and the mullet dress (long at the back, short at the front) was spotted at Matthew Williamson and Julien MacDonald (keep your eyes peeled for appearances on a red carpet near you). The scattering of sparkle (at Mark Fast, Mary Katratzou and Felder Felder) will also look stunning under the flashbulbs.

For Spring, designers continued a fine romance with lace: Erdem was inspired by ballet for his delightfully light collection, while Marios Schwab gave lace a rock chick edge (Nirvana and Bruce Springsteen were on the soundtrack and a motorbike revved as the girls walked out). Winter’s Fifties silhouette was shortened into a sassy fit and flare shape (as at David Koma). But in contrast? Slick, sporty chic was a major story with techno fabrics (Pringle of Scotland), funnel necks (Daks) and sheer panels (Peter Pilotto) giving the collections a modern edge along with minimal shapes (as at Osman and Hannah Marshall).

New names to know? Michael van der Ham. Seriously, he’s one to watch, along with Felicity Brown, who showed as part of Fashion East. Her divine dresses, in shades of blush, ink, jade and coral, were constructed with layers of sheer fabric and snipped ruffles. Sublime.

We’ll miss the gossip, the glamour and the Topshop venue, where the catwalk ran alongside the train tracks at the old Eurostar terminal at Waterloo and guests were fed and watered in fabulous style. We won’t miss the aching feet and waiting around for shows to start.

Tuesday 21st September - am

When the shows finish the parties begin. Stylist's fashion team were out in force last night so we could bring you the latest celebrity sights and the best soundtrack.

Kate Moss & Longchamp, Bond Street

Who was there: Kate Moss and her mum, Meg Matthews, Jaime Winstone, Sir Phillip Green, Janice Dickinson

What we drank: Longchamp vodka cocktails

What we ate: Sushi canapés by Rhubarb

The soundtrack: Queens of Noize clocked up their second gig of the week after Djing earlier at Matches & Erdem

The extras: Kate wowed everyone with her fresh face and slit-down-the-front black satin dress while the ‘world’s first supermodel’ Janice Dickinson provided the antics with plenty of pouts and flashes of her ageless thighs....

Dolce & Gabbana’s party for Naomi Campbell, Bond Street

Who was there: Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Mario Testino, David Gandy

What we drank: Custom-made Martini Gold Dolce & Gabbana cocktails

What we ate: Parmigiano and bread canapés

The soundtrack: R&B, Hip Hop and House

The extras: Clearly in the party spirit, Naomi was on hand to autograph special T-shirts Dolce & Gabbana had made in honour of her 25 years of modelling.

Vivienne Westwood’s After Party & NY NY party, Maddox Club

Who was there: Julien McDonald, Matthew Williamson, Henry Holland, Pixie Geldof, Coco Sumner

What we drank: From vodka tonics to Sauve, the choice was ours

What we ate: Food was replaced by dancing, and lots of it

The soundtrack: Cheesy 80s tunes

The extras: Henry Holland’s mild manners were tested when he briefly lost his Blackberry amongst the crowd and we spotted Coco and Pixie sneaking cheeky cigarette breaks in Maddox’s secret garden.

Browns & Pamela Love Pop Up Shop, South Molton Street

Who was there: Alexa Chung, Dree Hemmingway, Julia Restoin Roitfeld, Henry Holland

What we drank: Margaritas and tequila-infused pink grapefruit cocktails

What we ate: Nachos and guacamole

The soundtrack: Relaxed American guitar with a kick

The extras: Guests mingled amongst Holly Fulton's crystal-embellished a/w collection and left with a pamela love tee and almond chocolates

Vivienne Westwood & Melissa exhibition, Selfridges

Who was there: Amber Rose, Little Boots, VV Brown, Marina and the Diamonds

What we drank: Rose champagne and Caiprinhas in frosted glasses

What we ate: Quail's egg on toast with truffle and welsh rarebit

The soundtrack: Brazilian singer Cibel provided upbeat tropical tunes

The extras: The exhibition features shoes from Vivienne Westwood and Melissa's archives, all in glass cases

Erdem & Matches party, Morton's, Berkeley Square

Who was there: Kate Lanphear, Olivia Palermo, Derek Weisberg, Sarah Mower, Jacquetta Wheeler

What we drank: Belvedere Vodka Screwdrivers and polish Mules

What we ate: Tomato salad and seabass

The soundtrack: '80s pop and Girls Aloud with sets from the Voguettes and Tabitha from Queens of Noize

The extras: The entrance to Morton's was transformed with hundreds of balloons. All guests received an Erdem print silk wrist tie on arrival

Monday 20th September - pm

Today was the day all the international press landed: Anna Wintour, Carine Roitfeld, Carla Sozzani... (Editors of US, French and Italian Vogue respectively) arrived just in time for London's biggest shows.

Christopher Kane was what everyone was waiting for. Each season Kane doesn't so much throw a curveball as lob one into orbit. No one can predict where Kane will go next but today it was all about highlighter shades and high-vis vest yellow, cut into plain shaped separates and dresses. Simple cutwork pieces and fine pleats - and the surprise element - made this the stand-out show of the week so far.

Next, Roksanda Ilincic reiterated that neon is a major Spring trend. Her first look was a florescent pink silk chiffon dress and all the looks that followed had a light, flowing and totally Seventies feel. The rest of the colour palette was a mix of eye-popping neons combined with dove, smoke, silver and blue. So pretty, so fresh. I loved the bohemian tied headscarves - and the fact that ELO was on the soundtrack.

At Giles' show, held in a warehouse on St John Street, I got carried away gawping at the models on the runway and almost forgot to look at the clothes. Snejana, Vlada, Coco Rocha, Stella Tennant, Karolina Kurkova, Stam and Anne V walked alongside curvy celebs Kelly Brook and Abbey Clancy. Little blouses, waistcoats, and neon knitted tank tops appeared on the catwalk alongside full-skirted ballgowns. Eclectic? Yep. Quirky? Quite. I even overheard Kerry Katona saying she "loved" the collection. Not taking himself too seriously (by inviting a tabloid star to his show) is what we love Giles for. See? Fashion isn't always fraught...

Sunday 19th September - pm

Some people go for Sunday afternoon strolls, but if you're part of the fash pack, Sunday afternoon will see you racing around town between shows, elegantly elbowing your way through the crowds of hangers-on to secure your seat.

In an elegant Westminster ballroom, Julien McDonald presented a beautiful collection, majoring on the trends of floaty chiffon, bra-style corsets and knot-work details. The mullet dress (short at the front and floor-skimming at the back) is becoming a motif of the season and McDonald showed a dreamy version today. Janice Dickinson and Cat Deeley looked impressed.

The show that everyone is talking about is Michael Van Der Ham - it was the designer's first solo catwalk show (he's been showing under the Fashion East umbrella for the past two seasons) but it looked as polished as if he'd been a catwalk stalwart for years. It's a privilege to watch a new designer develop (it's one of my favourite parts of the job). Michael mixed an array of fabrics in each dress (one featured sequins, lightweight tweeds, printed silk and tassels) to devastatingly beautiful effect before topping off some of the looks with bold chunks of Swarovski crystal that glittered in the daylight. My favourite show so far and definitely one to watch.

Later, everyone was out for Vivienne Westwood. Pamela Anderson, fashweek favourite Nicola Roberts, Erin O'Connor, Matt Smith (looking adoringly at girlfriend Daisy Lowe on the catwalk), Pete Burns and, erm, Nick Knowles all squeezed into a front row seat. The venue was full to bursting to watch Dame Viv's collection of boyish tailoring, super-shiny fabrics and shimmering navy sequin dresses. There was a roadblock as everyone spilled out onto the road afterwards. Last stop of the night, back at Waterloo, Richard Nicoll closed day 3. To a David Bowie soundtrack, the models wore a stark black and white palette which looked modern and bold. Nicoll was inspired by the Thin White Duke and I fell in love with the crystal encrusted cardigans and the sheer pleated maxi skirts.

Bring on the night.

Sunday 19th September - am

Sunday is the day when the international press jet into town, keen to see the creativity that London is renowned for. Everyone headed to Somerset House for an early start to see Basso & Brooke’s print extravaganza. Their floaty dresses made from gauzy silk will be a dream to wear come Summer and the soft digital designs are the perfect mix between edgy and pretty.

Next? A fleet of LFW’s official Mercedes-Benzes descended on the old Eurostar terminal at Waterloo for Mary Katratzou’s stunning show. Known for her signature digital prints (which have, ahem, 'inspired' many a high street store) Mary added pelmet shoulders, flowing chiffon trains and intricate raffia lacework. A sprinkling of crystals decorated the dresses and bold lampshade skirts. I can’t wait to shoot the whole collection – it was divine.

And did I mention the Christian Louboutin shoes? The bright raffia wedges are just what I want to wear on my feet when the sun is shining…

Margaret Howell always shows in her Wigmore Street shop, with the rails cleared there is just enough space for an intimate runway presentation. Sharp white shirts, perfect boyfriend jeans, easy duffle coats. Howell designs real clothes that transcend the trends, while still being totally of the moment. There was time for just one more show before lunch. Mulberry’s intimate presentation in Claridges’ ballroom caused a scrum (luckily we had mini Victoria sponges to sustain us). The label’s pretty, ingénue separates in plum, navy, sugar mouse pink and ivory had the fash pack sighing wistfully – and ‘squealing’ when a cute pug made his catwalk debut. And of course this is a label that made it’s name with bags. For Summer, the quilted chambray mini-satchel was my favourite

Morning over, we’re looking forward to Julien McDonald, Vivienne Westwood and Matthew Williamson this afternoon… See you there!

Saturday 18th September - pm

Saturday continued as a day of major shows. With a Stevie Nicks soundtrack, how could TopShop Unique go wrong? Showing at the the old Eurostar terminal at Waterloo - my favourite venue of the week - the label nailed the emerging trends and looked fearlessly creative. A scattering of crystals, smudgy digital prints, sandy denim and flowing black chiffon. These are clothes you'll want in your life - and, more importantly, can afford.

Back at Somerset House, young label Osman caused a stir with his sublimely simple column dresses, reminiscent of Nineties Jil Sander and Calvin Klein but with a fresh, swingy A line twist. Next up? Stylist cover boy Henry Holland. Not a slogan tee in sight, HH's collection was grown-up, with luscious leather pleated skirts, a bold banana leaf print and slick Seventies trouser shapes. The front row, including Nicola Roberts, Jamie Winstone, Pixie Geldof, Amber Rose, Lily Allen... (need I go on?) looked like they enjoyed themselves too, as did the fash pack.

Saturday 18th September - am

Day 2 of the shows started in refined arena of the Somerset House tents. The venerable British brand Daks produced a thoroughly modern show with simple, almost monastic feel. Maxi shift dresses, bold funnel necks and cropped palazzo pants came down the catwalk in a palette of mustard, slate grey, white - and the house's signature check. Wearable and on-trend, the fashion pack loved it and a white dress-shirt maxi dress is on my must-buy spring wish list.

An edgier show was Louise Gray's fun, Indian embroidered collection. If you're looking for clear plastic shorts filled with polystyrene balls and streamers, this is the label for you. But some of the dresses - in pretty patchwork silk - will prove to be commercial successes, I think.

Twenty8twelve was the first celeb-packed show of the day. Matthew Williamson was out to support his pal, Sienna, as was Jude Law and Pixie Geldof. Flashbulbs nearly blinded us front-rowers. The clothes had a rockabilly tinged, Western-feel with flirty shirt full skirts and t-shirts knotted at the waist in denim, scribble-prints and white the key components of the collection.

Friday 17th September - pm

Bora Aksu kicked off Friday afternoon's shows at the Bloomsbury On:Off space. The collection was full of intricate pleats, folds and ruffles in a palette of crimson, smoky blue (there is a lot of this shade around for s/s) and silver brocade.

Next up? Jena.Theo. The label isn't actually one person but a duo of Dimitri and Jenny - their white cropped leather jacket looks set to be the cover up of next season.

Felder + Felder kicked off a two-show presentation late afternoon with twisted, deconstructed leather shift dresses and pencil skirts along with some divine jewelled dresses - a diamante studded cadet blue body-con mini and a gown with a black suede bustier and floaty, smoky blue chiffon crystal-studded skirt were stand-out.

Hannah Marshall's show was up next starting with a beautiful film shot by photographer Rankin. Her collection of minimalist pieces included plenty of signature black, but veered into a pretty dove grey section with pleats and constructed details were a surprise.

Tomorrow? Another busy day starting with Daks at 9am sharp.

Thursday 16th September

Pencils have been sharpened, notebooks prepped and new bags purchased. Admittedly the playground, I mean, front row gossip is more sophisticated (new shoe chat focuses on Miu Miu and Balenciaga rather than Start-Rite) but the fash-pack's excitement over the season that is about to be unveiled causes a ripple of energy throughout the city - and a flurry of incredibly well-dressed fashion students hoping to be spotted by street style bloggers The Sartorialist, Face Hunter or Tommy Ton.

The week (actually a 5 day affair) kicks off with a party on Thursday, while the shows begin on Friday. I can't wait to see Stylist cover girl Hannah Marshall's show on day one. Known for her signature use of raven black, I've heard a rumour that Hannah may deviate from her sombre palette… but watch this space to find out more. Throughout fashion week I'll be constantly posting show reviews to fill you in on the latest catwalk gossip.

Saturday sees TopShop Unique's show (always a good bet for catching a glimpse of the fash-pack's favourite clothes horses: Kate Moss and Alexa Chung have been spotted in previous seasons) and gives a good idea of what the glossy magazine teams will be actually spending their money on next season. Everyone loves TopShop. Other Saturday must-sees are Charles Anastase - the French illustrator-turned-designer's clothes are always pretty and cool - and JW Anderson, a new Irish label. I'm loving their tomboy-esque androgynous staples.

Sunday sees another early start with London favourites Julien McDonald and Matthew Williamson providing a dash of glamour to the schedule while Mulberry's presentation will be where all the cool girls head to with Alexas, Roxannes and Mabels nestled in the crook of every arm.

On Monday, Christopher Kane will be the hot ticket with assistants and interns clamouring for any spare seats. They might get a standing spot at the back and will complain that they can't see the shoes. I can't predict which direction Kane will go in, but his past shows have veered from panelled velvet pieces to ingenue gingham frocks and, most recently, embroidered leather and lace. What next? All I can guarantee is that all eyes will be on Kane's East London catwalk. Come Tuesday - the last day of the shows - Burberry is set to be the big ticket. Designer Christopher Bailey totally gets what women actually want to wear (for Autumn it's a snuggly aviator jacket) so it'll be exciting to see what his Spring designs declare we'll be sporting. This show will present London fashion at it's realistic best - desirable, fresh yet totally wearable - and Burberry shows why London is still the coolest city on the fashion schedule.

Check back throughout the week to see my hot-off-the-sketch-pad dispatches from the front row and follow us on Twitter for instant updates from the catwalk.

Pictures: Getty Images

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