LONDON – Cacophonous floral prints and opulent silks brightened up catwalks at London Fashion Week Tuesday, as the weeklong whirlwind of glamour and glitz featured its last day of womenswear shows.
The day opened with a dizzying clash of color and prints by Mary Katrantzou, the 28-year-old designer from Athens who has gained a devoted following in just three years with her distinctive bold prints of unusual subjects like Chinese vases and Faberge eggs.
For spring and summer 2012, Katrantzou played with a theme of "industrial fabrication versus beauty in nature," dishing up dresses and pantsuits that overwhelmed the eye with their dozens of dissonant patterns and saturated hues.
Most of those patterns were florals, though not as you know it. In the pant suits, a print of a dense flower field appears in fuchsia on the trouser legs, but becomes horizontal layers of bright blue, yellow and orange on the jacket.
Although Katrantzou went to town with colors -- even the models' lips were painted green or blue -- she didn't neglect texture and structure. Stiffly constructed, exaggerated bubble skirts reflect her background as an architecture student, and ethereal, floating trains were added to matching mini-dresses.
Plastic-coated pieces have a hard sheen that reminded audiences of the industrial theme, and the finale gown -- a concoction of glittering floral embellishments and gray scrap metal -- took the idea to a literal level.
Meanwhile, loose, abstract 50s shapes and bright jewel hues presided at Serbian-born Roksanda Ilincic's show.
Ilincic, a former model whose elegant designs were recently worn by Michelle Obama and Prince William's wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, mainly used luxurious silks and satins in mustardy old gold, jade, turquoise and electric magenta. The tones were perfect for the show's setting, a regal, darkened hall with huge chandeliers at the Institute of Directors building.
The opulent clothes were paired with woolly beanie hats, which gave the look an insouciant, relaxed finish.
Hamish Bowles, the European editor for American Vogue, said he saw a strong Balenciaga influence in the voluminous shapes, dropped waists and bell sleeves.
"She took abstract late 50s couture shapes and gave them a very light, very modern touch," he said. "It's very refreshing and stylish."
Other designers rounding up day five of the week were Osman, Kinder Aggugini, and Amanda Wakeley. In the past four days the fashion extravaganza featured latest collections by Burberry Prorsum, Vivienne Westwood, Christopher Kane and Jonathan Saunders, among others.
The displays attracted a star-studded audience -- including Pippa Middleton, who showed up Tuesday at Temperley London's show. The 28-year-old wore an emerald Temperley evening gown to her sister Kate's royal wedding reception in April.
Kanye West, Tilda Swinton, Sienna Miller and model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley were among the celebrities spotted in the front row at shows throughout the week, alongside fashion editors led by American Vogue's Anna Wintour.