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London Fashion Week A/W 2011, Catwalk Review: Bernard Chandran (by Helen)

Super bright colours, peplum mania and stunning feathers by the Malaysian designer; shown in Northumberland House on Sunday.

Written by Helen Martin


Bernard Chandran LFW A/W 2011, illustration by Emma Block

I’d call the day: ‘mizzley’. This is a term I robbed from the Cornish, as it so aptly describes the mix of misty rain, murk and the consequential frizzy hair. Joy. Thus standing in the rain, not so fun. Luckily the power of the coloured sticker, whizzed me and my companion for the day, illustrator Emma Block, straight through the monster doors. We were seated in a grand hall. A ballroom, a destination for pretty dresses, pizazz and parties. How fitting that Bernard Chandron is promising so many modern twists to this whole ball swirling around the room, soiree into the small hours, affair.

‘With a futuristic yet luxurious feel, the designs are functional and sexy with an effortless edge. Known for his sharp cuts and innovative silohettes, we see new refinements in the cut. The silohettes are structured, with nipped in waistlines. The sleeves are inspired by sportwear but given a chic treatment.’


Bernard Chandran LFW A/W 2011, illustration by Madi Illustrates

I don’t normally quote press releases, but I kept reading this paragraph over and over. Imagining the designs. I do adore some future luxury, don’t you? I mean, what is it? Sounds modern. In my mind I was thinking distinctly ball like. I was hoping for some edgy, sporty dancing numbers. They’d be so perfect in this chandelier rammed, gold edged haven. After I had finished pondering on this, I realised, with a half empty hall, there was obviously going to be a wait before the show started. So I arranged my English weather paraphrenalia again, before checking I hadn’t lost my camera another four times. Then had a proper look around. I saw the gentleman who appears to be a fixture on the front row. Always enormous, with the sheer quantity of his multi-coloured/fabric type layers, and looking distinctly as if he has just eaten something vile. Relatively old, I hold on to the hope that he was a lesser known design extradordinaire in the 60s. With a shop somewhere on King’s Road, he left to live in a caravan in Peru, before returning in the 90s. To kick some fashion ass. And take up the FROW. You just know he has been wearing velvet slippers and long, silk dressing gowns as everyday wear since ‘The Start’.

I asked Emma if she could see anyone she recognised. Perhaps a super, hot shot Editor, or a celebrity? She said she could only see Matt Bramford. I say only, but in reality, we both acknowledged his obvious celebrity. He couldn’t see us however (and DO people wave at LFW?). In the row before us, a lady sat with enormous, spiked shoulders. I looked down and Emma had drawn her, beautifully. I looked down at my own notebook, with bizarre doodles and random words ‘TEAL’, ‘GOTHIC’, ‘POW’, etc. strewn all over it. Hmmm.


Bernard Chandran LFW A/W 2011, illustration by Emma Block

It was nice being with Emma, who was very excited to see her first show. I couldn’t wait to see her illustration in full action as well. And eventually, it went dark. Then stayed dark for absolutely ages, before super cool music started banging out and the models began their parade. Clearly unafraid of colour, Chandran‘s pieces were bold; organges, pinks, reds and electric blue, with black punctuating the pops of colours. Everything felt structured, indeed – like space – but also fun and actually joyously fluid. Some of the pieces had a little dominatrix vibe, with zips, points and tighter structures. Most of these were fitted close to the body and pencil shaped. A number also came with a hard, curvy little peplum, sticking out on one side, adding to the futuristic vibe and pizazz. In contrast, if the aforementioned fitted dresses were the futuristic, luxury space women, the show’s feathered dresses were the residents of a brightly coloured planet, like Bond’s Dr No. Juxtaposing the closely fitted pieces,Chandran‘s show featured a few of these utterly gorgeous feather pieces. These were looser, shorter, and came with the addition of beautiful movement. The tiny, brightly coloured feathers danced together with the strides of the models. With a life of their own, they were swirling, liberating and modern. These dresses stood out for me.

Chandran uses leather, silk, wool, velvet, jersey and lace. He also uses a top stiching technique, which involves the mixing and matching of fabrics to create tartans. One of which in the show, involved a diamond cross hatch effect, and was coloured grey, with black detailing. This was a stand alone, gorgeous dress, but it also complimented the bright pallette, and thus would look utterly fantastic with super bright shoes. Detailing was also very evident in Chandran‘s show. Zips, 3D buttons and the peplums, strongly featured throughout. The overall look was a strong, confident woman. Unafraid of the future, she wears unusual details, with innate attitude, and colour with relish. Bright inspiration, I wondered how Emma would replicate the strength of colour and movement with her pencils. Sure that she would with ease. Her eyes were alert with all that they had seen. I took a photo of her by the catwalk and we wandered off for a cup of tea down the road. Shame London looked so grey today.


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4 Responses to “London Fashion Week A/W 2011, Catwalk Review: Bernard Chandran (by Helen)”

  1. Paula says:

    I love your writting. I always make my reviews personal as well. I was at the show too that day and you have perfectly described the difference between the moody weather we had to tolerate outside and the vibrancy of the show when we got in.

  2. [...] FOR THE FULL ARTICLE CLICK HERE This entry was posted in Fashion and tagged Amelia's Magazine, Bernard Chandran, Bright, Emma Block, LFW, LFW Autumn/Winter 2011, London, Mizzle, Northumberland House. Bookmark the permalink. ← My pre-Oscars post I published this Saturday on Amelia’s Magazine – should have gone BEFORE last post. Alas: LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]

  3. Helen Martin says:

    Thanks Paula!

    Yes, it was murky out there. Chandran’s pieces were electric compared. Very pretty.

    I appreciate your comments, very lovely indeed :D

  4. [...] such an experience. You can read a fantastic review of Bernard Chandran’s show by Helen Martin here and see my illustrations of his [...]

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