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Why is Hunter Still Showing at London Fashion Week?

And other thoughts on day two of the London collections.
The Hunter spring 2016 runway show. Photo: Hunter

The Hunter spring 2016 runway show. Photo: Hunter

Why is Hunter still showing at fashion week?

It doesn't make sense. While Jason Wu's runway collections for Hugo Boss and Stuart Vevers's runway collections for Coach have elevated both brands, for Hunter, runway is doing the opposite; the clothes and accessories — which this season included parkas festooned with large grommets and streaming ribbons, and high-heeled versions of their rubber rain boot in yellow — are often cringeworthy, eroding season by season all of the earlier work Hunter did to market itself as a classic heritage brand.

That's not to say Hunter couldn't do something worthwhile on the runway — it certainly could — but Creative Director Alasdhair Willis's attempts to make the brand edgy and young seem to be doing more harm than good. At least Willis has successfully trained the fashion industry's eye on Hunter; in addition to his wife Stella McCartney, Vogue's Anna Wintour and Salma Hayek both sat front row at Saturday's show, held on a mud-covered runway at Euston Station Saturday afternoon.

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The day started off on a fine note with Mother of Pearl, the Maia Norman-founded label known for its sporty-meets-feminine clothes and floral prints. Creative Director Amy Powney turned to Victoriana and '80s interpretations of it for inspiration, merging soft floral prints, ruffles, pie-crust collars, bows and frills with sporty details like ribbed cuffs. ("I always have a sporty something in there, or it wouldn't be Mother of Pearl," Powney observed after the show.) The opening dress — flowing off-the-shoulder, in a soft pink floral — was utterly romantic; pretty, too, were the later floral dresses overlaid with chiffon and floral appliqué. Powney says she wants the label to be known for more than just prints, so she introduced some solid dresses and coats, often in leather, that added a crisp solidity to the collection. Boots — leather, ruffled below the knee — were also introduced for the first time, part of the label's push into bags and shoes.

Later that morning, former Givenchy Creative Director Julien Macdonald made his menswear debut. Macdonald likes to put women in revealing, skintight dresses and super-tall stilettos, elaborately beaded and embroidered, and I was curious to see if he would sexualize men the same way. The short answer is yes. While the men's clothes were generally looser and offered a far better range of movement, they too were often semi-sheer, beaded and short, the models' bodies covered in a an oily sheen. The contrast in mobility was striking; the male models were often held up behind the women on the runway, and one model was struggling so much with her tight skirt and stilettos that she put her arm around one of the male models and finished her walk using him as a support. It would nice to see Macdonald allow the women he dresses the same freedom.

House of Holland is all about freedom: to wear bold prints and clashing colors and, yes, to move. He exhibited his spring 2016 collection in a multilevel, industrial-looking music hall on Monday evening, the floor covered in sand. The show kicked off with a performance by Lady Leshurr, followed by a collection that — in usual Henry Holland fashion — infused bright colors, leopard and plenty of fun into the trends of the moment like flared cropped pants, army jackets and bucket hats. Fringed sandals were left long and wild, and striped athletic socks accompanied most of the looks. It had people in a good mood.

Before we headed off to Anthony Vacarello's show for Versus Versace, we stopped in to see shoe designer Nicholas Kirkwood, who — like Alexander Wang, Roksanda Illincic and Phillip Lim — is celebrating his 10th anniversary this season. Kirkwood will show his full-season collection in Paris as usual, but to mark the anniversary he threw a party by converting the basement of Adam House into an underground arcade with a DeLorean parked out front. Lining the walls were shoes, some displayed in toy packages, that were inspired by the things that excited him most in his first 10 years of life — arcade games, toy cars and "Star Wars" among them. In the U.S., the capsule collection will be sold exclusively on a made-to-order basis at Bergdorf Goodman, and it won't be cheap: each pair will cost in the range of $2,700 to $6,900. At that price, they may never leave the toy packaging.

For more on day 2 of London Fashion Week, click here.