Mulberry evokes a rainy British summer at London Fashion Week

By Sylvia Hui

What's an English beach holiday without rain?

With giant ice-cream cones, hundreds of animal balloons and plenty of raincoats in sherbet colours, luxury English brand Mulberry kicked off day three of London Fashion Week with a catwalk show that evoked a soggy English family vacation in the 1970s.

"I have photos of my family in our macs at the beach, eating fish and chips in the pouring rain," creative director Emma Hill told AP.

"It's just very English."

Mulberry brought a retro, kitschy carnival vibe to the elegant Claridges' hotel with an entrance hall lined floor-to-ceiling with hundreds of carousel animal balloons and human-size plastic ice-cream cones.

Models with big, green-streaked blond hair sauntered down the catwalk in sporty and practical clothes - macs, wind breakers, hoodies, shorts and thermal leggings - in a palette of sandy tones and candy colours.

Sunny lemon sherbet and candy pink were prominent, and there was even a "lollipop dress" with wide horizontal stripes of green, yellow and pink.

One dress had a print of plastic zebras, leopards and giraffes, echoing the animal balloons that greeted guests.

The second half of the collection punctuated its casual day wear with gold and navy blue party dresses and baseball jackets covered in oversized gemstones. Hill said the latter were inspired by the bright neon signs at seaside pier rides.

Mulberry, best-known for its luxury bags, matched the clothes with its signature styles in neon-yellow patent leather and animal prints.

As in previous shows, dogs were prominent at the spring/summer collection, with about a dozen animals taking front row seats with their owners.

Some models walked with a mini schnauzer in a Mulberry raincoat on a leash instead of a handbag, making the atmosphere festive and quirky.

Hill said Mulberry, which recently opened a flagship store in New York, will continue to sell "Englishness" not through overt symbols like the Union Jack but in styles marked by an irreverent and quirky English attitude.

"It's a bit bonkers, a bit out there," she said.

Model Kate Moss and Twilight actress Kristen Stewart were among the celebrities in the front row at yesterday's show.


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