It seemed very strange to be at the event where I've had no input, having been very involved over the past 9 or 10 years, but hopefully it'll allow me to be a little more objective.
The show opened with Jigsaw, they showed much of what they do best, classic shapes but with a modern twist, several of their key pieces were tweeds, don't think heavy winter fabrics these are light beautifully textured fabrics made in the same factory as Chanel have their tweeds manufactured. Jigsaw use a lot of European fabrics and manufacturing which can often explain the price points.
One of the new retailers at the Mall is Superdry, a brand that has a loyal following. It's not really my cup of tea but there was one stand out piece that you'd get years of wear out of - the short camo print jacket in greys and navy, go buy now, you'll never regret it!
John Lewis is one of the major sponsors of the event, their first scene was a nautical inspired one, featuring a lot of Lauren by Ralph Lauren. The product is inherently commercial but didn't have massive impact on the catwalk other than the colour blocked Ted Baker swimsuit. The way to really bring this type of look alive is to accessorise with a bright colour pop, a lemon, pink or orange bag or shoes or neon jewellery would lift this and bring it bang ip to date.
These are the type of bags I would pop with a nautical look (Oasis and John Lewis Collection from johnlewis.com).
One of the big summer trend is for hot colours, and although they didn't feature strongly in the designer shows last autumn they are coming through, perhaps the Brazilian influence! Ann Summers showed some great lingerie and swimwear in brilliant pinks, orange and purples, this was followed up by John Lewis again featuring florals, the perennial (excuse the pun) spring print was this year very big and bold, courtesy of Ted Baker in particular.
The bag is fabulous too!
Neon is a tricky trend that keeps re-surfacing particularly in the spring. The way to do neon is to have little flashes if you're not brave enough for full on block colour, so look for prints that have a flash of neon, a bag, a pair of shoes, a necklace, bangle. Bank showed this really well and my favourite was this short swing dress with a tribal print, if you're not brave enough to wear this as it is wear over skinny jeans or leggings or a very loose baggy white linen trouser for holiday wear.
One of the surprise scenes of the show was from BHS whilst I wouldn't normally shop there but the occasion wear they showed would be fantastic for a summer wedding, looks as good as all the more expensive brands that do this so well, particularly if you're on a budget, the cowl neck soft print dress could have come from any of their more expensive competitors.
The biggest surprise for me was the strength of the M&S offer, ( am I the only one but I find the whole 'your' M&S thing really annoys me, it's not mine it's the shareholders, rant over!). Anyway my friends Alex and Sue who was sitting in front of me, both said "that pleat skirt and cropped black top have got your name written all over them". Anyway almost all the stock was brilliant and we went straight to the shop and Alex bought the white cocoon coat for a wedding later in the year. My biggest problem with M&S, and I know I'm not the only one, is that availability can be a real problem and it's hard to find the really great pieces hidden amongst the frankly dull stock that occupies most of their shop floors. Every time I look at their current advert I want a couple of the pieces but actually trying to buy them.... Sort it out M&S and you'll see your current woes improve!
And to the finale, a Rio carival, see I was right earlier!
So....this spring is about bright colour with bold florals (no ditsy prints in sight), if you're not a floral fan then ethnic abstract prints and geometric prints are strong trends. Hem lengths can be micro short or need to be knee length, a trend coming though is for dirndl skirts with hemlines a couple of inches below the knee, watch this for the autumn as I think many more will be confident to try this trend by then but it is around now (try Top Shop or River Island). Whilst there are pastels and a lot of white it is the hot summer colours that will win out as we go into high summer. Shoes are more manageable from some of the very high heels and platforms of recent seasons. But, clumpy flat forms, wedges - these remain the key shoes, the Birkenstock shoe is also having 'a moment' from the classic sandal to funked up versions by all the fashion shoe retailers. Bag trends still lean towards the satchel and more structured shapes with a lot of clutches many of which are oversized envelope styles. Finally jewellery is either very dainty but increasingly large chunky OTT necklaces are the key, I've been bowled over by the strength of the Accessorise offer this spring, the styles are brilliant, quality excellent and the pricing outstanding - a win win buy!
So a whistle stop tour of the trends for this spring. The show I attended didn't show Karen Millen or Next both of which have some very strong collections this season, the latter has hit the jackpot with both the design of much of their collections but I've been bowled over by their prints and their price points remain as competitive as ever.