Caroline Charles at Fashion Week

I was so keen to see what Caroline Charles might have in store for London Fashion Week – one year on at S/S12 (I covered the legendary designer back in February for the A/W11 shows and mentioned that I was pleasantly surprised).

Back in February I was never holding out much hope for the ‘more eloquent and sophisticated’ styles of female fashion (think lamb dressed as mutton) but Ms Charles came through with some forward-thinking and knockout animal prints, a style that has dominated winter looks this year.

So the bar had been raised as I sat in expectation on row four of the Somerset House BFC Showspace, but I left with a feeling of being not quite satisfied.

You see, the words ‘classic Caroline Charles’ will mean different things to different people. Last year I would have said it with a real sense of ‘ooh, this stuff will be big next season’, but I think this year I’ll be saying that ‘classic Caroline Charle’ is an apt description of the same old’ – nothing’s changed, except the season.

The manor housewife was back, but she’d gone abroad! All the hunting jackets and animal prints from February had been thrown out the window, or rather replaced with all-round loose-wear in all shades of peach, red, white and blue.

Definitely lots of white and blue – in floral patterns across waistcoats, summer dresses and cut-off trousers.

Waist ties had returned, but slightly higher up the body as well and this was one of the things that I really did appreciate about the S/S12 collection: the use of neckwear – specifically the loose knots on laces around the neck or straw hats slung back with the ties to form an effective yet understated bow tie at the front.

Also impressive was Charles’s experimentation with texture and colour, specifically the eveningwear dresses, which glimmered and shone against the flashes from the pit. One signature jacket was encrusted and embroidered with lots of glittery and loud (but intricate) decorations. The models were also some of the most beautiful I’ve seen at London Fashion Week, with hair tied back tightly in chignons, buns and top-knots.

Overall it was a case of the ‘classic Caroline Charles’, in the sense that it was all the same but gone over with a Spring/Summer brush.

I wanted more…

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