The new British Fashion Council tent, in the courtyard of Somerset House is something to behold. The structure has this year been transformed into a venue not unlike those of Europe and New York, large sprawling spaces to accommodate the international press. The straight up catwalk was absent, a U shape taking its place, seeming to accommodate more. It is, on balance a little awkward for viewing: one seeing each look for less time, an apparently counter-productive move. But logistics aside, the room is built for fashion. Which is just as well, for Jean-Pierre Braganza kicked off my Friday afternoon.
Braganza, a Central St Martins graduate who has worked under Roland Mouret and was selected by Karl Lagerfeld as his protégé in the season of autumn/winter 2008, is a name to know. After some celebrated seasons of structured, cleverly devised tailoring, the Londoner – whose studio is on Whitechapel Road, all of places – had something to live up to. And live up, he did.
The show notes told of a contradiction of femininity, of the Braganza woman living between two worlds: of feeling of knowing, of self-restraint and impulse, dividing herself between youth and experience. And this, all of this, was evident from the opening sequence. A boom-boom pow soundtrack set the girls on their merry way, the openers clad in an array of rose-tinted monochrome, a smashing of pink with a simple black and white template. My own show notes are peppered with ‘Wang shorts’, ‘Wang cut out’ as spot after spot of slightly rebellious, cool girl shapes were spotted, reminiscent of Alexander Wang’s spring/summer 2014 show last weekend. Those hip skimming crops and slightly lower slung pants made for a collection that exuded more than just a good cut: an attitude came hand in hand, that cool girl you just want to be.
Some pieces stood out in cut and contrast: an oriental style peplum made an entrance in a surprising move. The peplum stepped back into town during New York Fashion Week and has made its move on London too. A reverse asymmetric skirt strolled down the runway, while feminine drop waists, girl-boy bomber jackets and trousers followed.
While many will discuss the frivolity and theatre of fashion month, some shows are for buying. Or at least, thinking about what you’d like to buy. And Braganza’s was one of them: day-to-night dresses, and culottes will sit neatly amongst your existing wardrobe, the monochrome pom-pom-backed wedges – though I’m still skeptical about a platform still being ‘a thing’ – won’t look out of place anywhere. And that is how fashion, especially in troubled times, should be.
Watch the show here: