The Best Collections We Saw at Day 3 of London Fashion Week

Bright color took center stage at Preen, Temperley London, Mary Katrantzou and more.
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Bright color took center stage at Preen, Temperley London, Mary Katrantzou and more.

Hello, London! Our fall 2015 collection coverage is continuing from across the pond, and we're reporting on the best of the UK's up and coming design talent, as well as its most established houses. For more of our London Fashion Week coverage, click here.

Preen

We were up bright and early for Preen's 9 a.m. show; thoughtfully, coffee (and a strange juice with charcoal in it that I would not recommend) was served outside the show venue, a white-washed underground tunnel adjacent to Pancras Station. The second the show music turned on, we were overcome with a sense of deja vu: Hadn't we heard this song before? We had; it had served as the soundtrack for Simone Rocha's show just the night before.

The song was Sonic Youth's cover of Delaney and Bonnie's "Superstar," and Sonic Youth's most famous member, the inimitably cool Kim Gordon, played muse for husband and wife design team Thornton and Thea Bregazzi. The resulting collection combined Preen's signature, colorful print-mixing (florals on florals, florals on overblown check, mixed paisleys) and diaphanous silk dresses and skirts with '70s boho and rock 'n roll details like lace-ups, found on the cut-out waist of a dress and as a decorative detail down and across the front of a coat. A new dress silhouette, flat-hanging in the front with a cape back, was devised while draping in the studio, Thea said backstage after the show. As good as the dresses were, it was the outerwear -- a boxy wool jacket with a tan and shearling front, teal suede lapels and check-print sleeves; a colorful check bomber lined in shearling; and a furry color-blocked coat with a full shaggy skirt -- that had editors cooing. -- Lauren Indvik

David Koma

David Koma is a very busy man. Between his eponymous line and Mugler, where he was named creative director in late 2013, he designs eight collections a year. That in itself has us wondering why he isn't lying prostrate in bed with a tub of Ben and Jerry's and a bottle of Smirnoff, especially given he is also a new, and very engaged, father.

Koma is breathing rarefied air, and his challenge is to make sure his work for Mugler and his own line are distinct. For fall 2015 , mission accomplished. Armchair critics will point to his love of body-con and skater silhouettes, and how it harkens back to '90s Tom Ford, but there is something much deeper, much more interesting going on here. His nude and black pieces in principle shouldn't work, but they did, showing us a new sexiness, thanks to his techniques with latticing and unforgiving tailoring; there is something mathematical there that only Koma — who once thought he would be an anatomist— understands intrinsically. 

His is a specific aesthetic, one that perfectly bisects the Russian gangster's moll and the highly informed fashionistas from Shoreditch to Galveston to San Diego. Critically, there was something in the collection for every type of body — that is an area of huge concern for Koma: he doesn’t want to leave the larger sizes out of fashion. And for that, we bow down. -- Afsun Qureshi

Palmer//Harding

Palmer Harding is gently evolving from its reputation as a purveyor of women's white shirts. In the ghost of seasons past, designers Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding have perfected that white shirt, playing on various stylings and cuts, and for them, it's time to move on. For fall 2015, they were thinking intelligently about how to parlay their special talent into other pieces, and they pulled it off. There were some exceptionally good black and white silk dresses and separates with masterful shirring and sarong-like draping. The cape coat, restrained and subtle, was the focal point: Palmer Harding showed us how to take the cape out of the red carpet and into the real world. You could feel comfortable wearing this piece at work in a Moscow office, or at a gallery in Montreal. There were also great "Monk strap shoes" from the high street that drove home that louche, chic vibe. After this collection, Palmer Harding could well be known as the coat/cape guys, rather than the white shirt guys. And it would be well deserved. -- Afsun Qureshi

Matthew Williamson

There are certain things we can always expect from a Matthew Williamson show each season: prints galore, hyper-saturated colors and more than just a bit of jet-set glamour. Something else that Williamson’s core customer seems to be heavy on? Attitude. But when you’re pairing leopard-printed fur, fringe, florals and brocade all in one look, you’re going to need it.

The starting points of the designer's fall 2015 collection were the astrological star signs, and this revealed itself through the birthstone-inspired color palette of jewel tones, thematic embroideries and painterly prints — including one particularly beautiful Pisces-inspired blue silk skirt with a galaxy print, paired with a shiny teal sweater. Williamson’s usual bohemian silhouettes were back in full force, but given a seasonal update with giant Mongolian furs, suede booties and sportier pieces — like trousers and a bomber jacket — in more substantial materials, embroidered with rich-looking gold. Many of the looks were accented with oversized aviator sunglasses that also had a space-age quality about them.

Sure, this collection wasn’t anything new to phone home about, but Williamson’s astro hippies were a joy to watch walk down the runway — they have swagger that’s truly out of this world. -- Alyssa Vingan

Temperley London

To quote Wall Street Journal reporter (and fellow carmate) Elizabeth Holmes, Alice Temperley is really hitting her stride these days. The designer returned to the Royal Institute of British Architects to debut her fall 2015 Temperley London collection Sunday afternoon, where she showcased a range of expertly styled looks: a double-breasted peacoat in snakeskin-textured bronze, worn over a long dress with a moth-like print, the cuffs of a crisp white shirt peeking out underneath; an ankle-skimming dress laser-cut in lemon yellow, worn under a long belted grey cardigan and light geometric coat; a sheer blouse embroidered with blue florals, paired with shimmery, high-waisted trousers in ocean blue, a narrow scarf trailing over one shoulder; the list goes on. Formal dresses and gowns are still Temperley's speciality, and this season's offerings were sexy without being cliche: There was a silky gown with a slit that could be unbuttoned to the thigh, and sheer-skirted dresses worn with thigh-high socks that left just the top part of the leg exposed.

But what really had attendees talking were the models: Two were obviously pregnant, and Sophie Dahl made a surprise appearance in a floor-length velvet coat and bronze sequin trousers after a half decade's absence from the catwalk. It's not the approach most designers have taken to promote diversity on the runway, but celebrated all the same. -- Lauren Indvik

Topshop Unique

On a freezing, rainy day in London, the Topshop team knew exactly what its audience would want upon entering the Tate Britain before the show began: hot coffee, pea soup and, in my case, chocolate fudge cake. Unsurprisingly, it turns out that the British retail giant also has an innate sense of exactly what its customer will want for fall, as it seemed to hit every single trend that we’ve seen on the runways this season. From ‘70s silhouettes, to shearling and faux fur, to wrap coats, to thigh-high slits, there was something for everyone in the collection.

The show opened with a number of quintessentially British influences, like clean-cut overcoats, cable knit sweaters, tweed suiting pieces and cozy plaid separates that would be ideal looks to pack for a weekend in the country. Things got a bit sexier from there while still keeping it classic: Kilts and day dresses were fashioned with thigh-high slits, hunting boots were elongated and cut slim up to the knee and other timeless outerwear (like trenches and pea coats) was given a modern update with materials like vinyl and leather. Standout pieces included a velvet jumpsuit, retro trousers and a skirt suit in baby blue and a series of coats with shaggy, shearling sleeves — all of which we could see on any of the girls sat in the label’s all-star front row, including Kendall Jenner, Cara Delevingne, Ellie Goulding, Emily Ratajkowski and Alexa Chung.

Topshop’s made a killing by providing the coolest girls in London with their day-to-day wardrobe staples, and the fall 2015 collection will likely prove to be no exception. -- Alyssa Vingan

Toga

Toga's fall 2015 collection sorted out our wardrobe conundrums for next fashion week. The label's elegant show today had some of the best coats we have seen thus far this week (and we've seen a lot) and far and away the most beautiful "sensible shoes:" Square toes with two inch heels, perfect for navigating cobblestone paths, and in jarringly good colors like mustard and gold. The clothes themselves struck a regal note — not quite Duchess of Cambridge regal, but more like the King and Queen of Bhutan, whom this writer has been following since before Vanity Fair put the King of Bhutan on its best dressed list for 2015. There were superb taffeta silk looks in checks and ginghams, all very Lily Pulitzer until you added the pageant-like fur stoles and artfully layered knit sweaters.

Skirts over pants had an Eastern feel, as did the deconstructed long poplin cotton blouses with oversized, fuzzy buttons. Was it the two-tiered, embellished hem trousers that stole the show, or the simply stunning white coat at the end, that had showgoers elbowing each other out of the way to get a closer look? We were then slowly hit by the realization that we hardly saw a waistline, an outline of a bust or a shin, yet the clothes were still provocative in their modesty. According to the brand's show notes, the collection was about a complex woman who yearned for chaos. We disagree. For us, it was the most Zen, regal collection, for the simplest yet chicest of women. -- Afsun Qureshi

Mary Katrantzou

As we were waiting for Mary Katrantzou’s show to start, we caught audience members squatting down one by one to snap photos of the pink foam runway, which looked like row after row of pyramids lining the floor of the Edwardian-era space. The texturized packing material ended up being the starting point of the collection, and it inspired the designer to play with truly innovative fabrications, prints and constructions for fall, which made for a thrilling show.

Already known within the industry as a master of her craft, Katrantzou’s silhouettes and high-tech materials were particularly ambitious for fall 2015. Slim trousers and skirts (many of which were paired with structured bustier tops) featured flouncy, ruffled bottoms that moved dramatically as the models walked. Rich-looking paisley and tapestry-inspired prints were abundant, but if this sounds old-fashioned to you, think again — they were even knit into chubby fur jackets and etched onto structural, rubbery dresses. 

What really wowed were the adornments. The designer's show notes listed "horror vacui" as a starting point, which translates to having a fear of empty spaces — specifically in art — which leads to the filling of entire surfaces with detail. This came through in the form of PVC ruffles lining the hoods of coats (which sparkled brilliantly underneath the house lights), foam packing pyramids affixed to skirts, molded geometric 3-D accents and strips of plastic bunched together created a voluminous fringe effect peeking out from underneath skirts. For some contrast to all of the hard-edged material, there was plush velvet, fuzzy tops in pastel colors and some fur to add an element of softness. 

Despite the terror-evoking inspiration (and the horror movie soundtrack that blared in the background), this collection is something we'll likely dream about for months to come. -- Alyssa Vingan

Edeline Lee

Edeline Lee is one of London more esoteric designers: rather than a basic presentation or runway show, Lee's architectural aesthetic requires something with an artistic underpinning to it, and her fall 2015 presentation didn't not disappoint. On a miserably cold and rainy London day, we found ourselves getting lost in Camden Town under a sleet of driving rain, and arrived drenched and in a cruddy mood. But all that lifted when we stepped inside. The collection was set up at the David Roberts Art Foundation, and shared space with its current exhibit "The Violet Crab." Her pieces hung like it was a part of the exhibit, underscoring the fact that that clothes can be as collectible as art. 

The main talking point was the hats: a Paddington-like take on the Pharrel/Westwood topper. Other highlights included the arrow looks (as she explains: "I like the idea of finding yourself on a map") and a superb emerald green draped dress. But we were slightly concerned with the color-block looks that greeted us. Pretty though they were, we felt like we have seen them before from Roksanda. We were also left with the feeling that the needle hasn't moved much since Lee's last season. She is an enormous talent, and we know she can do more than the cocoon sweatshirt and a one shoulder technique; something just has to coax it out now. -- Afsun Qureshi

Belstaff

Biker jackets, hard-worn Brit heritage, the inimitable styling of Karl Templer, part-time designer and campaign boy David Beckman. These are just a few of the things that come to mind on mention of Belstaff. Sunday afternoon, underneath the baby blue frescos of The Old Session House in Clerkenwell Green, the theme was a women's pursuit of freedom -- a broad undertaking if there ever was one. Belstaff's Delphine Ninous, the house’s first VP of women's design, narrowed the focus with a look to the aviator fashions of Amelia Earhart and Amy Johnson. This meant easy, carefree separates (think: black cigarette pants; tailored, pleated pants modeled after '30s gabardines, collarless white shirting) paired with rabbit fur-collared, copper-toned coating; woven, shearling-accented sweaters and of course, some excellent leather jackets for boys and girls.

These offerings were envisioned with outdoor adventure in mind, but walking out of the light-bathed show space — where editors sipped hot toddies and models kept warm with champagne — one couldn’t help but think that these pieces would be just as desirable for a girl walking into London's February rain. Wouldn’t fall's new floor-length, white mohair leather detailed coat go spectacularly with tapered black jeans and city-ready Chelsea boots?