Amidst the icy cold snap and talk of snowfall, it is brass monkeys more than sea monkeys that spring to mind this week, but when better to look forward to spring, where coral, seahorses and mermaids are central to the new season’s ‘underwater world’ trend?
Several designers dived into the blue for their spring/summer collections, resulting in a trend that is both tropical and, at times, magical. Sarah Burton showed a collection of goddess-inspired gowns in silver, black and seashell pink for Alexander McQueen. The aquatic shone through in mille-feuille chiffon layering that made for a soft, sea anemone look on several baby-doll dresses and in the coral-like fronds that ran across the shoulders of two other pieces.
Seahorses and starfish expressed Donatella Versace’s more literal approach to ‘underwater’, printed as they were across skirts, shorts and mini-dresses in aquamarine and violet. They were most striking fashioned from silver studs and used to bring a bit of Versace toughness to the floor-length gowns. Never one for subtlety, Versace took the theme all the way to the fingertips with her chunky shell and starfish rings.
Elsewhere, Ricardo Tisci accessorised his smart suits and dresses for Givenchy with giant shark tooth necklaces, ensuring his girl was beautiful, but deadly. Karl Lagerfeld was gentler at Chanel, showing more anemone chiffon in soft pastel shades plus scale-like grey paillettes and blue sequins on two shift dresses. Peter Pilloto also offered scales in a print of blue geometric shapes bisected by teeth-like spikes, while Massimiliano Giornetto included seahorse earrings and bracelets at Salvatore Ferragamo.
British designer Holly Fulton explained why she too ran with the “fun, optimistic” underwater theme in her collection that included jellyfish and seahorse prints, red coral embroidery and tentacle-style fringing.
“I wanted to go on holiday, but couldn’t afford it so went to Margate for one night instead,” said Fulton. “This inspired me to think about what would happen if my woman couldn’t afford to go to St. Tropez and ended up closer to home, but dressing like Sharon Stone from Casino on her summer break.”
Fulton knows her collection will not easily assimilate into every woman’s wardrobe. “I’d like to think my lady was not shy of making a statement, I suspect she isn’t really a shrinking violet… The Memphis dress – the last look – is the perfect fusion of good and bad taste for me. And it feels good.”
Fulton hasn’t left her boldness in Margate, either. Her forthcoming autumn/winter collection will be “colourful, very, but in a different way,” she says. “My woman’s come over a bit Lady Chatterley, but she’s heading to the hothouses to have her fun…”
If Holly’s hothouse breaks the cold spell at this month’s London Fashion Week, there will be plenty of appropriately beach-themed clothing this season to see us through the heat wave.
I WROTE THIS ARTICLE FOR THE TELEGRAPH’S ONLINE FASHION SITE ON 07/02/2012 – YOU CAN VIEW IT HERE
Alexander McQueen photos © 2011 Alexander McQueen. All rights reserved / Versace photos © 2011 Versace. All rights reserved / Givenchy photos © 2011 Givenchy. All rights reserved / Chanel photos © 2011 Chanel. All rights reserved / Peter Pilotto photos © 2011 Peter Pilotto. All rights reserved / Salvatore Ferragamo photos © 2011 Salvatore Ferragamo. All rights reserved / Holly Fulton photos © 2011 Holly Fulton. All rights reserved /