LFW at The Waldorf Hilton

Decorated women were everywhere: the effortless in ripped and customised, the head-to-toe designer clad, the fur-wrapped, the crazy-haired.

The first day of London Fashion Week and the fash-pack were already out in full force tripping up The Strand and Aldwych. The sound of heels and the flash of cameras were not disturbed by the Iranian protesters parked in the middle of the road near The Waldorf Hilton in Covent Garden.

It was certainly a good venue for a show. Less crowded than the main location, Somerset House, and the hotel’s courtyard cosily held the catwalk and viewing area. The mood was much less fraught than in the main venue and even from the standing area in the courtyard the view was good.

As we waited for the show to start, we watched as the snappers thrust their cameras in the faces of the glowing, black-clad Yasmin Le Bon and the surprisingly smiley Erin O Connor who led the front row faces.

A crash of thunder signified the start of the show and the ladylike, luscious designs of Maria Grachvogel, the 41-year-old London-born designer, descended upon us.

They were beautiful and feminine. They were also classic but with a slight twist in shape, which somehow rendered them modern. For example a scarlet, maxi dress with a gathered waist had these wonderful flapping shoulders that kept the look new. Scribbling in my notebook I wrote down words like ‘draping’, ‘gathers’, ‘material scallops’, ‘layers’. Maria Grachvogel’s designs are so beautiful because of her skill at using material to swathe the female body. Wearers looked timeless and confident, yet arresting.

Favourite looks included a beautiful mustard yellow and green strapless maxi dress with peplum details and ruffles layered around the top half; classic black trousers, white shirt combos that are not like any I’ve ever seen before, but tapered the waist and let the blouse billow over the shoulder. There were fur jackets and grey plunge all-in-one catsuits and beautiful print dresses and blouses in blues, greens and purples.

The models’ make up was very Nineties with nude faces, brown eyes and dark plum lips, and straight hair which perfectly showcased the pieces.

The final piece was a dress that would catch the eye at any party; a green and purple print, with a ruffle encircling a cut out back. Beautiful and simple, with one stand-out detail.

That’s the thing about Maria Grachvogel’s designs for autumn/winter 2010-11: they are generation-free. Any woman, any age could wear them and feel powerful, yet feminine and luxurious, and then they could put them back in their wardrobe and wear them again in 20 years.

Full marks for recession-transcending glamour. And PS: I’d love the red maxi dress if anyone’s offering…


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