Haunting haute-couture finishes off London Fashion Week

LONDON Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:11am IST

1 of 3. A model presents a creation from the Haizhen Wang Autumn/Winter 2013 collection during London Fashion Week, February 19, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett

LONDON (Reuters) - Spectral outfits and chilling winter prints capped off London Fashion Week on Tuesday, as the fashion season baton moves from the British capital to Milan.

London, one of the four major international fashion hubs alongside New York, Milan and Paris, attracts more than 100 million pounds in orders each season, according to estimates from the British Fashion Council (BFC).

Britain is also increasingly drawing high-profile names to its fashion industry, which has a direct value of 21 billion pounds to the Britain's $2.5 trillion economy, BFC figures show.

American designer Tom Ford made his catwalk debut in London this week, while pop-star Rihanna chose to launch a clothing line with British retailer River Island.

Ghostly girls in white Edwardian lace and black veils circled the vast space of the Tate Modern museum's tanks for Anglo-French design duo Meadham Kirchhoff on the final day of fashion week.

The predominantly monochrome collection, which included outfits of black velvet with white collars and long silk skirts, was inspired by lyrics from the Beatles song "Helter Skelter".

A spokeswoman for Meadham Kirchhoff declined to comment on whether using the song for a show at the Tate was a deliberate reference to Charles Manson, whose interpretation of it as a prophecy of racial war led him to go on a murder spree 1969 that included the killing of actress Sharon Tate.

The pair told Elle UK it was an obsession with perfection that inspired the designs.

"I was thinking about perfection, being the perfect homemaker," Meadham told the publication in an online posting.

"People want to trivialise women's interests...I bake all the time; keep my home clean. I'm obsessed with perfection; that's what got me going in the first place," he said.

Belgrade-born Roksanda Ilincic echoed the mood at her show, where models in pale pink and black drifted down the catwalk.

"It was really about creating that special modern feel of a haunted beauty - mix of opposites," Ilincic said.

BRITISH LUXURY

British designer Maria Grachvogel printed the skeletal branches of trees in winter onto a sheer white blouse for one of the final shows at London's Somerset House, which hosted John Rocha, Jasper Conran and Issa London to packed audiences.

Grachvogel, who used hues of bone, oxblood and lichen in her 34 piece collection, said London was going from strength to strength as a fashion capital.

"London has always been known for its young creative spirit and its young talent, but I think what's happening now is that the young talent is growing up," Grachvogel told Reuters after the show.

"We've got the luxury brands of the future - we have some already - but it's getting stronger and stronger," she said.

Luxury British label Burberry Prorsum drew international celebrities to its red carpet reception earlier in the week, as did veteran designer Vivienne Westwood's Red Label, another British fashion industry torchbearer.

But London is best-known for its up-and-coming talent, such as Fashion Fringe award winner Haizhen Wang, whose show of sharply tailored separates, draped dresses and quilted jackets served as a finale for fashion week.

Wang, who was mentored by Burberry's chief creative officer Christopher Bailey, follows in the footsteps of former Fashion Fringe winner Erdem Moralioglu, who has gone on to garner international appeal and also presented at London Fashion Week this season.

"It feels exciting and I wanted to see how far I can make it myself," Wang said.

DOMINOES

Anya Hindmarch provided relief from the darker collections of the final day, with an elaborate display of 60,000 dominoes that tumbled around a course of trapdoors and pyramids.

The British accessories designer showcased her collection of satchels, clutches with graphic prints and handbags with giant tassels.

"The whole inspiration behind the collection was about games, so looking at dominoes and backgammon boards and all the kind of amazing graphics and colours," Hindmarch told Reuters.

All eyes now turn towards Milan's fashion week, which kicks off on Wednesday, before the finale of the season in Paris.

(Reporting by Li-mei Hoang and Dasha Afanasieva, writing by Alice Baghdjian, editing by Michael Roddy)

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