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London Fashion Week A/W 2011 Catwalk Review: Paul Costelloe (by Matt)

Paul Costelloe opened London Fashion Week A/W 2011 yesterday, as per usual. It was a riot of colour and a bloody wonderful start to the day - with illustrations by Lesley Barnes and Maria Papadimitriou!

Written by Matt Bramford

Illustration by Maria Papadimitriou

I’ll never say a bad word about Mr Paul Costelloe. His was the first on-schedule show I ever saw, back in 2008. It was a disaster – you can read my review here (my have we come a long way with our fashion week reviews). Despite that particular experience being pretty traumatic, I always look forward to what he’ll present us each season, and I genuinely believe he’s the most underrated designer on the schedule – AND he always gets that hideous graveyard 9.30am opening slot. Anyway, enough of the pity, I’m sure he gets along just fine.

Paul Costelloe chatting outside the tent, post-show. All photography by Matt Bramford

Of course, this wouldn’t be fashion week without a cycling trauma, and it was on Friday morning that my back brake completely went so I was left only with the front one, guaranteed to send me flying over the handlebars should I actually need to stop. A quick trip into miserable Evans Cycles soon sorted this but meant I had to dash like a lunatic to Somerset House and just managed to leg it inside before the show started.

Illustration by Lesley Barnes

I was disappointed not to be saddled up against those two lovely old dears I met last time – this time I endured a rather unforgiving fashion blogger. I tend to stand at the top of one of the aisles to secure good pictures, but said fashion blogger deemed it acceptable to stand in front of me. I politely explained that I had chosen that spot on purpose, and I would really appreciate it if she’d take her enormous Mulberry bag and ridiculously large coat somewhere else. She moved an inch to the left. Cheers, then!

God I’m going on a bit, aren’t I? Well, the show itself was brilliant. This season saw Costelloe move in a more sophisticated direction. The catwalk was awash with luxurious tweeds and tartans in vibrant colours. Structured twin-sets with a contemporary edge stood side-by-side a-line dresses in unusual materials; delicious floral prints were teamed with cropped blazers, while hints of military on more a-line dresses were complimented with a roaring forties/fabulous fifties soundtrack of Bobby Darin and The Andrews Sisters (maybe). Poker-straight red wigs added a sexy, playful edge to what is a more mature range of womenswear.

Last season I wasn’t that struck on the menswear, but this year I am ALL OVER IT. Again, taking a more sophisticated direction, sharp suits (in similar tartans and tweeds to those seen on the girls) were aplenty. Floor length coats and double-breasted blazers really complimented the womenswear. Contrasting trousers in really bright colours were paired with tame blazers, allowing Costelloe’s men to be quirky but smart at the same time.

Illustration by Maria Papadimitriou

It was a massive collection – the biggest I saw during the day – but each piece had been carefully selected to compliment the next and never was it boring. The only way I could have enjoyed the show more was if Unforgiving Fashion Blogger hadn’t been such a knob. Hilariously she was fighting for my prime photographer’s spot to take pictures with her Blackberry! Well, I ask you.

Another great outing for PC, though. Long may he reign – in a sea of often miserable A/W 2011 dark collections, his whimsical approach and playful colours are a ray of sunshine.

All photography by Matt Bramford


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