From the Catwalk to the Street: London’s New Fall and Winter Fashion

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You can more or less predict it, you can definitely prepare for it — but unfortunately, you can't prevent it. Winter is coming. For many of us, the only choice is to bury ourselves in layers, and that's a perfectly acceptable approach to beating the cold. But the bold — and dare we say the beautiful? — have more refined and fashionable approaches to the season.

The fall/winter lines at London Fashion Week gave British designers a chance to display their knack for winter wear. Now that we're living the chilly season, it's time to take stock of the trends and see what we're all going to be warming up to this winter.

The Long Skirt

Showcased by Jonathan Saunders, J W Anderson, and the perennial affordable fashion fave Topshop, the long skirt is a trend that's been creeping in for a few years. A dropped hem here, a maxi dress there — we've seen the signs. But the long skirt is now making its own statement.

From just below the knee to ankle length to the clothing equivalent of a mullet (long in the back, shorter in the front) and everything in between, the longer skirt keeps chic and cozy in perfect balance. Easy to match, enormously comfortable and now the peak of fashion, the longer skirt is one of this season's must-haves. All you have to do is find the right one, love it and live in it!

The Big Ol' Sweater

Like a popsicle in summer, the sweater is an inherent part of the winter season. Styles, shapes and sizes may change, but as a fashion staple, it never goes out of style completely. This winter the sweater takes its notes from Christopher Kane, Mulberry and many other designers and takes on an oversized, incredibly comfortable twist.

Roomy and long (with many cut well below the bum), it's a hard item to resist for sheer warmth potential. But tread cautiously: the oversized sweater has the potential to be a great looking almost-sweater-dress, but it can also be a loose, potato sack number with little to recommend it. Choose wisely!

Pattern Party

Every few years a pattern emerges as the pattern for the season: leopard print one year, camouflage the next, polka dots when whimsy is high and plaids when it's low. This season, top British designers like Temperley London, McQ and Erdem (just to name a few!) made floral the preferred fall-winter pattern.

But florals were just the start. Mary Katrantzou showed off bold pattern mixing and matching, and the collections at Peter Pilotto and Issa weren't shy with their choice of prints, either. As is always the case when it comes to breaking from the plain and simple, patterns pose their own perils in the workaday world of real women. The best advice is to keep it simple: Pattern mixing is great on a runway but tricky to pull off in real life, so stick to solids for pairing unless you really know what you're doing (or feel brave).


Like location to a realtor, there's one thing all designers had on their minds for fall and winter: texture, texture, texture! Thicker materials lend themselves to this, of course, with the perennial favorites of fur (often faux these days) and lovely rich wools used without fail for sweaters, suits and coats.

Brocades showed up this season at Osman and Temperley, and rich, heavily textured fabrics were all over the runways at Matthew Williamson, Roksanda Ilincic and Burberry Prorsum.

But added to the heavy texture mix were lighter fabrics — delicate lace and airy chiffon concoctions were as abundant as any other. In a season with so much heavy, the balance of light makes for interesting play. After all, texture is all about how you use it: as a bold statement piece or a subtle layer among many others. Even with the typically muted colors of the winter, you can make a dynamic fashion choice with your materials.

When the fall/winter collections debuted last February, tastemakers were abuzz with news of London Fashion Week. It's a relative newcomer on the elite fashion scene, and many felt this was the season British designers asserted their right of place at the head table. Looking at the trends and how they're playing out now that winter is upon us, it seems the tastemakers were right. Why not celebrate with a new sweater?

by Leigh Bryant

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