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London Designers Take a Breather for Resort 2016

There was a relaxed feel to the collections presented by Erdem, Osman, Mother of Pearl, Burberry Prorsum, Preen by Thorton Bregazzi and Mulberry.
A look from Erdem's resort 2016 collection. Photo: Erdem

A look from Erdem's resort 2016 collection. Photo: Erdem

For many designers (Lanvin's Alber Elbaz excepted), resort is a lot easier and a lot more fun to create than other collections. Consider this: Unless you are a Gucci, Chanel or Dior, the pressure of a runway show is off. That means no worrying about a huge budget, casting, ticketing mania, hair and makeup. Poof. 75 percent of the headache is over, so creative directors can just create. Combine that with an easy holiday feel (it is resort right?), and what you find over the years are more interesting collections.

Retailers and customers love resort, too. Resort hits the shop floor November-ish, just when everyone is tired of seeing the stale fall merch. The holidays and New Year's are around the corner, just when people are looking for a fresh perspective and the wardrobe to match. With London designers, that mindset was clear to see. It did seem like everyone just relaxed a bit — and exhaled.

Waist Not: Erdem, Osman and Mother of Pearl

At Erdem, designer Erdem Moralıoğlu showed us how to deftly work a polished yet relaxed silhouette. His cool maneuvers came through in drop-waist dresses (see slides 2 and 3, above) and a tuck-less shirt —a particularly pretty one in pretty lace blush rose (4). His trademarks — the fantastically pretty florals, the fil coupe, the embroidery, the perfect lady-like coat (even though his version came in slightly naughty latex) showed us he was not straying far from his script, but moved enough to show an ever curious and playful creativity, and an engaged interest in different silhouettes.

Over at Osman, peacocks and foxes ran wild in his collection, bringing to mind a garden in South India. That zoology feel was translated into a relaxed yet tailored looks, summarized in a perfect white bell-sleeve dress (slide 10) and a knockout royal blue number (9), both cut loose on the waist. And Osman is a true internationalist. He knows that "resort" means different things to different people: so, when it is dead winter in Sydney, it is full summer in St Tropez. For that client, a ginger sheepskin coat (6) and a sublime gray kimono blazer/culottes look in double-faced cashmere jersey (7) ticked the box. Then there were some perforated leather pieces (8) that are the new must-have, and could easily transition from season to season. His red carpet habitués should be pleased.

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Mother of Pearl wanted us to breathe easy too, but rather than go waist-less, designer Amy Powney went with elastic waists. Once strictly the domain of toddlers and dowagers, the trouser with the give on the waist has been slowly making a comeback. The difference is, MoP is not hiding it under a layer, but is showing it off as a feature in blue peg leg trousers (slide 13). The vibe is neither puerile nor geriatric — only intensely cool, in a way that perhaps only Powney can do.

Earnings One's Stripes: Burberry, Preen and Mulberry

With the news that Burberry's Christopher Bailey made £7.9 million last year, we can say, with full conviction, the man has earned his stripes. Maybe that's why stripes were such a focus in this powerful, muscular Burberry Prorsum Resort collection that left nobody wondering who is boss. There were minute stripes, oversized ones, ones that looked animalistic — and all were intertwined with Prorsum mainstays: the trench, the lace, the redoubtable panache. Particularly outstanding was a zebra-striped fuzzy coat (slide 3) that reminded us that perhaps no one can do a coat like Bailey. And, the Burberry bellwether on the next big model is in full swing. The house snared Ella Richards for the lookbook, but considering she is granddaughter to Lou Lou de la Falaise, Anita Pallenberg and Keith Richards, we are guessing she probably doesn't need that much of a push from Bailey. Maybe just a little nudge.

Stripes played out again in the collection of Preen By Thornton Bregazzi, but we are going to give the duo some founding father credits here: stripes, along with devore and asymmetry, have always been its calling card. There were many standout pieces, including a maxi dress which had a sailors-on-leave naughty look to it (slide 7) and the double-hem dress (slide 8) with a loose, shirting silhouette. The solidness of the collection reminded us there is a reason why Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi are one of the few designers that can push out multiple collections, in multiple seasons, year round. There is Preen Line, Mini Preen, Preen eyeglasses and swimwear. Whew, tired just thinking about it. But as Thea Bregazzi tells us: "We never seem to run out of ideas — they just come pouring out."

Resort 2016 is one of the last Mulberry collections to be designed without the help of a creative director. Céline's Johnny Coca takes up the mantle next month, and for this penultimate collection from the in-house design team, well, it really pushed out the boat. Cue the English summer seaside holiday and its requisite nautical stripes — but done in a way that wasn't so predictable. A cool diagonal stripe dress with an asymmetric hem was borrowed from faded stripe beach huts (slide 13). More bold stripes came in an distinctive coppery-pink color meant to mimic the Salcombe sand and aesthetic (and having just recently returned from a long holiday in Salcombe, I can attest to the authenticity — I think I even sat in that deck chair where the fabric could have come from). There were other winners too, namely a beautiful white and navy trouser sweater look that had us thinking of Carolyn Bessette. And while I never really got the big hoopla over the brand's Alexa or Bayswater bag, the new Kite bag is finally roping me into the whole Mulberry handbag mystique. It's a winner, as was the whole collection, so much so it begs the question whether the house needs a new creative director at all. Whatever the case, the in-house team will be a hard act for Coca to follow.

Stayed tuned for our final resort dispatch from London on Monday.