LFW Roundup: Basso & Brooke, Mary Katrantzou, Margaret Howell Spring 2011

LONDON--Judging by the sparse front row, 9:00 am must have felt a touch early for the explosive print clashes we’ve come to expect from the boys of Ba

LONDON--Judging by the sparse front row, 9:00 am must have felt a touch early for the explosive print clashes we’ve come to expect from the boys of Basso & Brooke. But late sleepers missed a Day 3 treat, as the duo showed new maturity with a collection full of classic shapes adorned with, if not muted, then at least more restrained prints.

A mint green skater dress (the color trend continues) featuring an animal print panel opened the show. Fitted bodices flared into short skater skirts until tailoring entered the frame, through silk trousers with a soft envelope-folded waistline. Prints referenced city maps, Da Vinci’s handwriting, architecture, botany and coral branches, all in soft pastels and slightly off-standard colors.

Around look 20, bolder elements came into play. If an aquamarine-splashed leopard print read a bit South Beach in the age of Versace, it was at least closely followed by my pick for strongest piece in the show—a gorgeous cream silk dress that looked embossed with a snakeskin pattern, with fabric gathered and sewn for a gently folded effect—structured, yet entirely languid.

Another London designer making artful use of prints is Mary Katrantzou, who treated showgoers to breakfast of oeuf en cocotte au saumon, brioche, croissants and yogurts—a continental menu appropriate to the old Eurostar terminal setting.

An ode to hotel rooms, her fitted little dresses featured hyper-realistic prints of fictionally rendered chambres, enhanced by plenty of architectural additions—shoulder pieces structured using curtain-hanging pelmet techniques, and long, wicker-looking trains resembling chair-backs at the Café de Flore. Lampshades even made an appearance, in the skirts—all with silk fringing or crystals that clacked satisfyingly as the models walked.

Recommended Articles

Every garment had a wry turn: necklaces featured parts of chandeliers, or, where there were none, dresses had chandeliers printed directly onto the neckline or staircases refracted to form a graphic-looking necklace. All in all, an entrancing, more-than-slightly surreal show, sure to be one of the editors’ favorites.

Margaret Howell cleansed the print-sated palate with a restrained, classically Howell collection—what Madeleine of the story books might have worn had she moved to England, grown up and become friends with Alexa Chung.

There were crisp white shirts, wide-legged dark indigo denim trousers, softest peach silk shirts, starched nightgown dresses, khaki Barbour-esque macs, and darkest navy pleated skirts, sheer enough to divulge a hint of the bloomer hem beneath.

Innovative? Perhaps not. But buyers will love the French-inflected classics, like the bateau-neck Breton stripe top with a French blue stripe, ¾ length sleeves and three crystal buttons on the left shoulder.

Going straight onto our LFW wishlist are the mannish brown penny loafers worn by every model… who, by the way, looked fresh-faced, healthy, sweet and very happy to be wearing flats after yesterday’s tumbles at Anastase.