LFW S/S 2008 – Day one: Ben de Lisi, Bora Asku and Unconditional

Kate Gilbert reports live from London Fashion Week spring summer 2008

With the sun beating down all day, it certainly felt like summer was blowing gently through London today and provided a great back-drop for the start of the week. Atmosphere wise, there are several factors that characterize the first day of London Fashion Week. Firstly, there is an abundance of free food and drink to kick off the proceedings (my three bloody mary’s for breakfast certainly made me feel I was living the dream.)

Secondly, it is the day where everyone thinks it is acceptable to drag their kids around with them (which F.Y.I, if you don’t have a kid, preferable age 2-4, then track down an unwitting male immediately and get on with it, because they are this summers key accessory.) As you’ve probably guessed, I’m not really a big fan of kids, and whilst I appreciate that people want to show their children a good time, this to all intents and purposes is an industry event, and so I slightly resent hard working journalists having to slog it out at the back for a view whilst a couple of three year olds take a nap in the luxury of the front row. Ok, rant over, to the important bit; the clothes…

My London fashion week kicked off with Ben de Lisi. The show started in dazzling form, and I mean literally dazzling, with a series of shiny and multi coloured creations. First to be unleashed was a series of dresses made of a silver material covered in shimmering holographic discs (clearly wrapping paper inspired.) The colourful display continued as a 1970’s feel section showed sheer rainbow striped, full length dresses and the day’s first splashing of sequins in a stripped twin set. Big floppy hats and messy curls continued the 1970s theme. Rows of plastic disc embellishment on deep purple and fuchsia dresses were another feature of the collection. While Ben de Lisi is famed for his evening wear, this was a very middle of the road collection and a gentle easing into the week’s festivities.

Bora Aksu’s tenth show at LFW provided a welcome break from the mid-afternoon heat (and the trailing off of my caffeine high). The collection used mixed fabrics, textures and techniques in a predominately dress focused collection. A dark palette of grey and black was used as a foundation, with injections of mustard yellow and ruby red to create an urban summertime look that mixed femininity and street style. Sheer shirts with billowing sleeves and bows, teamed with leather waistcoats and baggy trousers kicked us off. Followed by many dresses, mainly thigh length, that combined chiffon, organza, cotton and silk. Knit detailing adorned most pieces in a variety of forms from straps to large panels. Layers of texture, including chunky satin plaits, knotted fine chain and teamed with flirty pleats made a wearable collection, especially as dresses were worn with converse sandals, surely a summer must-have.

Unconditional, creation of designer Philip Stephens, provided a relaxed and simple collection. Walking onto the catwalk out of a green plastic box doorway, elfin hoods and fine knits swathed the models. First off were soft stripes and high-waisted trousers, men’s suits and anorak sports tops in a pale grey and white. The show progressed through a spectrum of summer hues, including a cool pale pink, shown in men’s dungarees (which despite the model bearing props of a gardening fork and cauliflower, we were more in awe of the model’s fantastic body, which certainly had me contemplating if I got my boyfriend a pair of these magical dungarees would he look like that by summer…) followed by an ethereal hooded dress.

White straps embellished and sheer blouses also featured. Low slung, over-sized sports back-packs hung off loose fitting, light-weight anoracks. The colour palette moved through green check shirts teamed with high wasited white city shorts, and green leather jackets and then on to splashes of bright orange and pink shown in loosely belted fine knits and men’s jumpers with unzipped shoulder detailing. The luxurious materials of cashmere, merino and silk fell beautifully in large drapes and this clean collection flowed easily. Also, with an ethical backbone as the natural materials used are as eco-friendly as possible, it is no wonder that top celebs such as Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz and David Bowie are among Unconditional’s supporters.

After a busy day of drinking, eating pastries and ogling objects of desire (by which I mean the clothes of course), I leave looking forward to what the rest of the week will bring and obviously also planning what exotic holidays I wish I could take to accompany the new summer wardrobe.