London fashion week ends on note of 'rebellious decadence'

Topman and JW Anderson among designers mixing youthfulness, retro and a dash of paisley silk pyjamas

"Rebellious Decadence" said the show notes on the white benches at Topman's spring/summer 2012 catwalk collection, which was shown on the closing day of London fashion week. According to the trendsetting high street brand, next season you really should be teaming retro silk paisley pyjamas with a tailored suit jacket.

Staged at the Royal Opera House, this was a positively confident and sexy show featuring thigh-skimming suede shorts, shopper bags carried as clutches, vibrant orange penny loafers, multi-coloured knits and lots of paisley-style patterns.

This show had all the hallmarks of a buzzy designer show in Milan rather than a high-street one in London. But then this London fashion week has very much shed the old image of dingy car parks and three-legged catsuits in favour of a new era of slick, grown-up glamour.

Right on message, Topman kicked off with a series of expensive-looking tailoring – the first outfit was a beige double-breasted suit in a textured jacquard cotton with short trousers featuring a deep turn-up. Here was a prime example of how this high-end high-street collection balances youthfulness and polish with enough edge to appeal to their most fashion-forward, ankle-flashing customers.

"I wanted it to be glamorous," said Gordon Richardson, Topman's design director, after the show. He name-checked the Rolling Stones as an early reference point for the collection but said that he always thinks about how their customer approaches, buys and wears clothes. "Basically our boy is someone who just puts on clothes in a irreverent way and mixes it all up," he said.

JW Anderson – who is one of London's most talked about young labels, and designs a capsule collection for Topman – is the creative director of the label Sunspel and has been showing his menswear mainline collection in the capital, to growing acclaim, since 2007. He is a designer who certainly knows how to influence – his recently launched womenswear has proved popular with Vogue editors.

On Wednesday at Somerset House's very oversubscribed Portico Rooms, he delivered an edgy knockout collection literally brimming with ideas. There were bold sleeveless tops with crochet details, colourful trousers, a fuzzy fronted knit with a perforated leather back, a patchwork rucksack featuring leather and raffia and a modern paisley print, which appeared on shorts and tops. After the show, Anderson cited the artist Robert Rauschenburg as a reference , which you could see coming through in his exploration of surface and texture. The designer explained that he'd also been exploring "severe colours that weren't necessarily meant to go together."

Another rising London menswear star is Christopher Shannon, a Central St Martins graduate who has been showing his label since 2008. Shannon is known for a cool and modern take on a sporty aesthetic – he has previously collaborated with Eastpak and Reebok. For spring/summer 2012, despite the appearance of fantastic head pieces made from colourful combs, the designer had decided to calm things down. "We started off really bright but took it down in the end," he said after the show, which included tracksuit-style trousers, shirting in anorak fabrics or featuring Madras checks, leather drawstring kit bags and textured patchwork sweat shirts.


Simon Chilvers

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
London fashion week no longer home of the bonkers

As British design talent embraces bright colours and pattern, London is emerging as a leader in the use of print

Imogen Fox

20, Sep, 2011 @7:29 PM

Article image
London fashion week: Burberry launches 2012 collection on Twitter
Fashion line ‘live tweets’ each look moments before it emerges on catwalk while Christopher Kane hits on strategy that works

Jess Cartner-Morley

19, Sep, 2011 @8:30 PM

Article image
London fashion week: yellow is not just for Liberal Democrats
Just as Miriam González Durántez proved her party-faithful credentials in yellow, Mulberry sent the colour down its catwalk

Imogen Fox

21, Sep, 2011 @7:51 PM

Article image
Betty Jackson takes a break from London fashion week after 60 shows
Betty Jackson says she is not closing her company or retiring but is taking a 'gap year' from the London fashion week catwalk

Jess Cartner-Morley

20, Jul, 2011 @4:01 PM

Article image
Ahluwalia's cultural patchwork lights up London fashion week
Designer leads fashion’s new diverse charge with looks inspired by multicultural Britain

Priya Elan

05, Jan, 2020 @7:51 PM

Article image
London fashion week: Topman and E Tautz suit up
Mens tailoring takes sartorial centre stage at both ends of budget with double-breasted suits set to be big hit next season

Simon Chilvers

23, Feb, 2011 @9:04 PM

Article image
London fashion week men's makes a grab for the zeitgeist
Charles Jeffrey Loverboy, A-Cold-Wall* and David Beckham star, as interest in menswear booms

Scarlett Conlon

04, Jan, 2019 @2:53 PM

Article image
Biker jackets and anoraks on final day of London fashion week

The man-clutch, skintight leggings and gold skeleton-inspired gladiator sandals among menswear ideas proposed for spring 2010

Simon Chilvers, assistant fashion editor

23, Sep, 2009 @10:04 PM

Article image
Hello London Fashion Week

The shows kick off today! Guardian fashion will be there to cover all things Spring 2012 shaped

- Follow live coverage of LFW at

Simon Chilvers

16, Sep, 2011 @7:30 AM

Rebellious note in London's fashion fight

City's position as key player in the industry threatened by New York's scheduling change

Imogen Fox, assistant fashion editor

14, Sep, 2008 @11:01 PM