London is hard to peg. It's the city where the cool kids hang out: The collections are effortless, grown up, and unfazed by the showiness of their European cohorts Milan and Paris. However, London's nonchalance makes it tricky to forecast trends – there isn't really a "London look." The one major theme from London's Autumn/Winter 2013 shows was less aesthetic than it was conceptual. The collections showed that UK designers have been hard at work toying around with the identity of their own labels, stepping out of their cool-cat comfort zones to explore some very intriguing possibilities. The Burberry and Jonathan Saunders collections were decidedly kinky. The sharp trench coats and timeless tailoring that have always distinguished Burberry Prorsum were sexed up with stiff metal collars and epaulets, teasing grommet work, leather and skintight knits, coy prints and kitten heels. The preppy collars, boxy silk blouses, and chunky sweaters that Jonathan Saunders use as his trademark were swapped out for corsetry, thin (read: sheer) chiffon and, well, two very particular focal points.
The Mulberry and Christopher Kane collections were decidedly surreal. Mulberry has always embraced a campier aesthetic, favoring tweeds, furs, and earthy palettes to make their luxurious clothes look comfortable, but this fall designer Emma Hill maximized all of these aspects at once to create a collection almost creature-like: The oversized tweed checks, ballooning shoulders, and the weighty tops paired with relatively slim cropped trousers aided in turning the models into caricatures. During his runway show, Christopher Kane told the kind of story that André Breton would be proud of: A story of the brain-- or rather, the breakdown of the logical brain into pure, irrational aestheticism. Kane's 60 look collection unraveled his structured and architectural coats and sportswear into hallucinatory silk prints, offbeat feather appliqué, and near-violent graphics.
The Erdem and Mary Katrantzou collections were decidedly moody. Both designers, who have had long love affairs with color, decided to work in the field black and white. Erdem Moralioglu's decision to open with an all-black look, void of even a pattern, set the stage for a collection that felt mostly like an exploration of texture. Erdem's designs proved strong enough to make a statement in the dark, arranging a lineup of chiffon, tweed, velvet, satin, sequins, bead-work and quite a lot of ostrich feathers to prove that darkness can still be undeniably feminine. Katrantzou used her blacks and whites as canvases for sharp photographic prints and ambitious, architectural construction. Like the color palette, her fabrics varied very little, mostly heavy silk and tooled leather was in use, but the statement Katrantzou aimed to make in graphic and silhouettes was executed to the T.
And speaking of T, Tom Ford's reappearance at LFW solidified his rule-breaker status, and his show-stoppingly bright and brilliant collection made him decidedly the coolest kid in town.