This is part two in our two-part roundup of the resort 2016 collections in London. Click here to read part one.
All in all, there were far too many "meh" moments in the resort 2016 collections shown by London designers — a clear indication that some were merely marking time and filling in the gaps. (That's when the customers will say: "What's the point of more?") On the other end of the scale, there were the noise-canceling collections that stood out and injected a true excitement into fashion — and certainly will motivate customers to buy.
For resort, consider this: most customers have just paid for holiday tickets and hotels — and budgets are tight. But some of these collections were so outstanding, that they are bound to encourage clients to open up wallets — and isn't that what the whole business of fashion is pivoted on? Here, we cherry pick the best of London resort via a trend round-up, and the items that we simply cannot live without.
Swiss Miss with a Hit
Often, the best collaborations are orchestrated by a savvy public relations agent who brings two clients together. That's what happened when Maria Lemos of Rainbowwave paired her two clients, Peter Pilotto and Ancient Greek Sandals (AGS). Says Peter Pilotto's Christopher de Vos: "We have always admired AGS, and they have really transformed the traditional sandal in to something cool, chic and incredibly desirable." It was a thought that neatly summed up the label's resort collection.
This outing was a marked departure for Peter Pilotto: an easier silhouette — flowy and liquid, but not like the done-to-death boho — evoking a pagan festival feel via earthy colors like terracotta and rust as well as natural fabrics. Interesting details abounded, like a dress that resembled a pinball machine, balloon sleeves and gorgeous scarves — and all complemented by the AGS gladiator sandals. The hardware on the sandals mimicked patterns on each dress: a bit matchy-matchy, but in a fresh way. Significantly, the digital print — a Peter Pilotto hallmark — was gone. In its place, a lot of Swiss lace, done with a restrained hand via "wave" details that stole the show. "We wanted to develop the aesthetic in a totally fresh manner and apply it to a new surface and product," Pilotto told us. It was indeed a totally refreshing approach.
By complete contrast, Mother of Pearl's Amy Powney went for the full motherlode of Swiss lace for resort, and even had granny chic details like crinoline and polka dots. Her take reminded us that wherever we are in on holiday this year, the go-to piece is a lace look — with maybe a cardi on top.
Henry Holland also used the white stuff for his House of Holland resort collection, and offered it in high/low versions: there were full broderie anglaise lace looks, or little details via patches on a pocket and the patchwork in jeans. Despite him coming out with his first men's line this season and producing all sorts of collections — while still working as a DJ — his resort outing had a mind-boggling 67 looks — about double the average of most designers. Translation: his creativity never stops. "I just had skater girl in mind and the more I thought about it the more ideas I had, so my team and I just rolled with it," he said. "Is it too much?" The short answer is no. This man is el feugo, and we love that energy. It is exactly what makes fashion fun.
When for others it is merely a trend, for Temperley London, lace is a staple. "I use lace every season, and it is a bestselling category for us, so of course, I wanted to use it again, but in a different way," designer Alice Temperley told us. Her jumpsuit was a courageous move — it could have gone either way, high fashion or Jersey Shore, but thankfully, with an elegant crystal butterfly at the belt, it was a clear winner: A ladylike, no fuss-look for elegant parties by the pool or golf club. Temperley also added her signature tailoring and boho looks for resort, but the lace looks, as she indicated, should be winners on the shop floor.
Orange is the New Black
We have been watching Pablo Coppola transform Bally since his 2014 appointment as creative director. His remit was a challenge: taking a storied heritage label that had become middle of the road, and to transform it into a luxurious, cutting-edge brand. This resort collection — his first — carried on with that quest to a clear-cut directional move. There was a lot of Ali McGraw going on — and that came through in strong looks that had bright orange as a feature. Now, orange is a favorite color for a lot of accessories brands (look no further than Hermès), and we expected him to put it in a purse, and he did. However, a full leather look? This requires some courage, but he did that, as well as a trouser suit that had, astonishingly, some pink spliced in — weird and wonderful at the same time. With this collection, Coppola has made his point. World, watch out for Bally.
Orange has become such a prevalent theme that it was even carried over into the models: Jonathan Saunders's lookbook model had orange hair — not auburn, not red — but bright orange. The textiles maestro weaved that color in via floral patterns, stripe details and belts, and like Bally's Coppola, even mixed it in with pink. It had a powerful effect, and one to consider. Here we were just getting used to black and blue together — and now this pink and orange? Like we said, weird, but we are loving it.
Christopher Kane Does Swiss Lace and Orange with a Mighty Heart
It's almost impossible to have multiple themes in a collection and to craft it cohesively and fluidly. Cue in wonder boy turned elder statesman, Christopher Kane. For resort, his "hearts" theme was an emotional purge, and for this I have to go back several years to illustrate why: It was the after-party for his much-lauded 2007 S/S breakout fluorescent body con show, in a tiny, cramped bar in Bond Street's South Molton Lane, Incongruously, the venue was full of his cool kid East End friends looking decidedly out of place in the patrician West End. I found Kane himself standing on the stairs, looking concerned, despite having just been lauded by the international press as the next big thing: He asked me: "Have you seen my mum? I am looking for my mum, I can't find her or my aunty anywhere and I am getting worried."
That cued in a big part of Kane that I have seen throughout the years — a tight sense of family. At each show he was accompanied by his mother, aunts and sisters, and even at his sample sales, his sister Sandra would be working the tills. This year, he lost not only his mom but also his beloved mentor, Central Saint Martins's Louise Wilson. That loss came through powerfully in this collection with hearts — as buttons, on gloves, as motifs on a dress, as details on trousers. And it was touching and effective.
Kane also used the Swiss lace to full effect, but unlike his comperes, his was minus the white. He used it exuberantly in a full palette of colors — orange hearts, pink blouses, blue trousers, white raincoat. There was also lace in transparent pockets. Then there was the orange, a color that has always been close to his heart — and he gave us generous lashings of the stuff via a lace dress and heart cut-outs. If it sounds messy, it wasn't. That he managed to dovetail multiple themes so brilliantly reminded us of the pure joy of fashion.
The Bucket List
The bucket bag popped up consistently last season, but it's really taken off in resort. Burberry is right up there in changing our views. The British band has given the bucket bag a lady-like twist by shrinking it into a little a delicate little handbag and backpack in an animal print.
Mulberry, too, reminded us why its accessories sales are quickly turning around. The label added the "Kite" to its range, which adds an elegant twist to a kind of inelegant shape (can anything called "bucket" be elegant?) with shingle-like details in both navy and beige. We're keen to see what happens when new Creative Director Johnny Coca arrives in just a few weeks. Can he make it better?
Although Mother of Pearl is in the early stages of accessories, we are already fans. For resort, the label introduced its first leather bags, including a grid and navy stripe bucket that is cool in a not-trying-too-hard-to-be-cool kind of way.
At the top of our bucket list has to be Sophie Hulme, not just for her orange leather bucket bag, but for the entire collection. Hulme's signature bag shape is rectangular, linear and slick, which took on fun additions like cherries, watermelons and grapefruit this season. There was also an ode to the Fendi's bug, which raises a debate-worthy issue: Is it a copy, or is a tribute? Hulme's take on it was fresh and wantable, a bushy key ring with big, friendly eyes that's bound to attract some new fans.