London fashion: Versus rocks on; Wickstead favors florals

LONDON (AP) " London Fashion Week kicked it up a notch Saturday with the latest womenswear previews for fall and winter " just as the weather in the British capital took a decidedly spring-like turn.

The second day of the fashion extravaganza featured Jasper Conran, Emilia Wickstead, Molly Goddard and others, with Italian designer Donatella Versace's Versus line closing the day in typical rock 'n' roll style.

DONATELLA ROCKS ON WITH VERSUS

Donatella Versace brought her brand's rock 'n' roll sensibility to London Fashion Week, closing out Saturday's shows with an ear-splitting, strobe light-filled runway show that enthralled her youthful audience.

She chose a cavernous space to present her latest Versus designs, which was dominated by all things black (with a sprinkling of burgundy and electric blue thrown in, mixed with more black.) Menswear and womenswear was mixed together, giving the show an androgynous feel.

The crowd " which included a man dressed as a clown and several in full suffragette regalia " sipped Prosecco patiently as the start time came, went, and faded into the distant past without any sign of action.

Model of the moment Gigi Hadid eventually opened the show, followed by male models who came out looking angry and disheveled, while the female models looked severe, with hair pulled to one side or spiky.

There were a few denim outfits for men that lightened the mood, and some military-style tunics for women.

The word VERSUS was emblazoned on choker neckbands, outfits " even on the thongs that were intentionally displayed. A nifty black and white jumpsuit for men had the brand's name displayed multiple times, and on the accompanying handbag as well.

Some pieces were fanciful, including a silver metallic sweater set off by scarlet angora, and others seemed odd, like the pointed black hats some of the men wore.

Versace clearly could do no wrong with her fans. Wearing a black mini-dress, she received thunderous applause when the show came to a close.

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VELVET AND ROMANTIC FLORALS AT WICKSTEAD

Sheer lace, ruffles, velvet and florals: Emilia Wickstead's latest offerings are pure romance.

The designer, who said she was inspired by Russian theatrical costumes, showcased flowing ankle-length dresses adorned with voluminous, puffy sleeves, and sheer gauzy lace layers embellished with delicate crystals.

There were bubblegum-pink gowns, a lilac double-breasted trouser suit, and lots of vintage-inspired florals and prints.

It was all quite demure and very feminine - typical of Wickstead's elegant designs, which are worn by the likes of the Duchess of Cambridge. Some outfits were daring, though, featuring ultra high-waisted trousers, paired with a midriff-baring cropped top cut just below the bust.

The show ended with show-stopping evening gowns - including a dramatic metallic number that shimmered from head to toe for maximum impact.

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GREEN IS THE WORD FOR JASPER CONRAN

Conran's look this year was built around what he called "everyday pieces" - vests, skirts, leather dresses - simply cut in evocative colors like purple, mustard, magenta and apple.

The show Saturday at London's Claridge's hotel featured mohair wool tailored in olive, brown and maroon, with outfits set off by tight drainpipe trousers and flat, pointed shoes. There were also oversize parkas, slouchy bags and bondage-style halter tops.

Green was a dominant color, with some entirely monochromatic outfits, bags and shoes.

Conran couldn't resist a few leather biker jackets, paired with the slimmest of trousers. His pea coats came in creamy Melton wool.

At times he was looking for simplicity: a scarlet angora V-neck dress draped beautifully and a khaki cotton shirt dress evoked faraway places.

More complicated looks included a chocolate-fringed sequin dress and a chocolate leather wool grain V-neck dress with applique. He showed no fear, easily blending a red sequin vest with wooly, chocolate-colored trousers.

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ENJOYING LIFE WITH MOLLY GODDARD

Up-and-coming designer Molly Goddard drew a youthful crowd to a subterranean show space at the Tate Modern.

Goddard, a recent graduate from London's prestigious Central St. Martins design school, is known for her frilly, girlish tulle dresses and her use of traditional craft techniques like pleating and crocheting.

Her show on Saturday was filled with imagination. One multi-layered bright blue dress seemed to cascade like a waterfall, while a bright blue tutu-shaped skirt clashed dramatically with a striped top. A poufy white dress was set off by metallic silver space boots, and a green metallic dress was bisected by a bright red sash.

The collection played on themes of nostalgia, of children dressing for special grown-up events, and how teenagers dress for parties.

Goddard set up the space with a dining room in the center of the auditorium so models could enjoy glasses of red wine after the catwalk, and bottles of sweet vermouth were made available for guests. The goal was to have an interactive show, where both the audience and the models have something to do.

"It was just about having a lot of fun," Goddard said afterward. "I just kind of explored my absolute favorite things."

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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