Paul Costelloe Opens Understated Fashion Week

London Fashion Week is celebrating its 25th anniversary this season, but despite this fact the week started in a less lavish style than usually expected, due of course, to the credit crunch. Following in New York Fashion Week’s footsteps, LFW is more understated than usual, with some designers, such as Grochvogel, showing in private 30 minute presentations rather than at expensive catwalk spectacles.

2009 is also the last year of the Natural History Museum as host to LFW, as announced by the Chairman of the British Fashion Council, Harold Tillman. Next year the event will move to the beautiful Somerset House in the Strand.

Crunch or no crunch, quite a few bottles of champagne could still be heard popping this morning as LFW kicked off with a sumptuous collection by Paul Costelloe. The designer is a veteran on the London Fashion Week scene and did not disappoint today.

His autumn/winter 2009 collection was for contemporary women who like to combine simple elegance with comfort. Costelloe chose Sixties New York jazzed up with rich fabrics, vertical zips, hidden pockets and large sunglasses. The dresses were hugging and sexy (a lot of leg, less waist) sporting flower applications and patterns.

The catwalk was dotted with little black dresses and raspberry coats while a few gold and silver garments added sparkle. I especially loved the sleeveless knitted dresses with bulky collars (think Jackie Kennedy) – perfect for a frosty day.

In Costelloe’s latest vision the hairdo was a mixture of baroque coiffeur and hippie messy curls, adding a sexy edge to the otherwise polished look. Red lipstick and ankle length boots are still on, but Costelloe decided against accessories with hardly any jewellery or handbags on show.

Other highlights of the first day included Esthetica – an event showcasing ethical designer fashion – as well as Ashish’s show which went for the glam rock chick style. The BFC supports a lot of young talent this year, starting with the Central Saint Martin’s MA show tonight. And in the five following days we will see the likes of veterans Vivienne Westwood, Jaeger, Mulberry and Paul Smith. Watch this space.

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