Ashley Isham LFW catwalk show

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Extravagant evening wear designer Ashley Isham took John Clare’s quote, “Are flowers the winter’s choice? Is love’s bed always snow?” as an inspiration for a collection that salutes the romance of England. This is felicitous for a designer who ensures all his garments are made in England. With the tweeds, tartans and autumnal colours, his homage to the gentrified countryside is made apparent and these equestrian elements are partially influenced by the current Chinese New Year of the Horse. This reference to Asia is also seen in the far eastern renderings of the oriental floral prints and Red Japanese Maple. I suspect this is a nod to his own Singaporean heritage, showing he hasn’t forgotten his roots.

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For AW14 he has also stayed true to his renowned sophisticated allure with his signature adorned gowns, as decadent and dazzling as ever with flowing trains, fishtail hems and delicately hand appliquéd detailing. But he cleverly combines old school glamour with contemporary cool by pairing the soft hand draping with asymmetry and sharp tailoring. With thickset twisted rope details, decorative caps, and embroidered leggings, there was a decidedly urban tone. Collared shirts, short sleeves, and wrap dresses alongside peplums, gloves, veiled hats, and pointed boots, made it modern and practical, masculine with a hint of feminine, and classic yet subtly quirky.

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There were aspects of fifties luxury and sixties contours with rich fabrics of jacquards, silk organza, Chantilly lace, and elegant leg-elongating high waistline trousers and shift cut dresses. In addition to the autumnal burnished palette, came odd pops of colour with a sumptuous turquoise with of course the wintry greys and metallics. There were snowflake crystal embroideries to evoke the twinkling frosty height of the winter season. Lovely attire to celebrate England’s idyllic icy beauty. Hopefully AW14 will be worthy of such garments (as in less wind more snow please!).

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Carly Florentine

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