- Associated Press - Sunday, February 19, 2017

LONDON (AP) - London Fashion Week neared its climax Sunday with shows by Preen, Topshop, Mulberry and others taking place at many sites in the more-chic-than-usual British capital.

A fleet of Mercedes-Benz sedans is ferrying VIPs from venue to venue as buyers, bloggers and wannabes gauge each show for that elusive dash of something special and off the wall. Not to be outdone, some have arrived at shows in a polished silver Rolls-Royce.

The pace of shows is a challenge for anyone trying not to miss a thing. The Monday slate is full as well, topped by the long-anticipated Burberry show.



Amid all the political debate on Brexit, British identity was the topic of the day - even on the catwalk.

Designer Johnny Coca, who heads heritage brand Mulberry, on Sunday dished up his vision of British style - one that is aristocratic and traditional, though with some funky twists. Think horse riding and hunting while staying at an English country mansion: Tweeds, checks, nostalgic florals on faded wallpapers, pearls and heirloom jewelry.

“It’s all the things I like about the U.K.: the countryside, the hunting, the wallpaper, the checks and embroidery,” Coca, who is Spanish, said backstage.

The show opened with models sporting head-to-toe brown and green checks, featured on box pleat skirts and mannish tweed blazers that look like they were borrowed from the models’ fathers.

Then came a series of large quilted capes, which Coca said were inspired by horse blankets and the equestrian styles of English country dress. There were vintage rose prints that came from sofa fabrics found in the brand’s archive, and pearl chains and oversized cameo locket pendants adorned the outfits.

The handbags - which are coveted by fans worldwide and the brand’s bestselling items - had a vintage feel, too, with structured shapes that recalled hatboxes and antique luggage.

Much of the collection brought to mind the 1970s, with its earthy tones, crochet dresses, rich brocade and loose flowing skirts. That’s because the clothes drew heavily from Mulberry’s 1970s archive, Coca said.

In case things got too retro or stuffy, the designer inserted some modern and quirky touches. Models wore furry knee socks in bright green and mustard, and outfits featured bold clashing colors, such as an orange blouse paired with a purple skirt and turquoise boots.



She’s a bohemian soul, living in the moment - Topshop Unique’s latest offering is all about clothes that give off that carefree, freewheeling vibe.

The outfits may look thrown on and eclectic, but the look is anything but effortless. Getting the dressed down cool girl look just right requires careful layering and thought.

Staged in a basement hall in London’s Tate Modern art gallery, the label’s show featured models in figure-hugging, bias-cut slip dresses - some with high slits - that were layered under graphic sweatshirts, oversized sweaters and outdoorsy fleeces.

Elsewhere, super-short mini-skirts in high-shine primary colors and satiny, striped wide trousers were paired with sporty striped tops.

As always with Topshop, there was plenty of fun and attention-grabbing party wear, too. A huge, fluffy orange coat stood out, as well as some silver sequined dresses adorned with bright floral embroidery.



It’s time for fall and winter collections, but the space set up by Preen by Thornton Bregazzi had a springtime feel more in tune with the British countryside with painted splashes of color suggesting flowers bursting into bloom.

This cheerful feeling pervaded the collection, with many black outfits set off by floral themes relying on fine embroidery and other outfits featuring reds and blues.

The models wore smeared red lipstick (evocative of a kiss, the designers said) and the choices were unusual, including a black and white shearling coat worn over a black floral bra.

Gowns were styled off the shoulder, and flat shoes and boots featured pale pink, a color seen in a number of outfits in the first few days of fashion week.

There was also a traditionally tailored tweed suit, as might have been in style a century ago, but set off with an oversize, bright green color, and a lingerie-style dress.

Designers Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi displayed photos of books they said had helped inspire the collection, including works by poet Carol Ann Duffy, the photographer Christina Boom and the artist Tracey Emin.

“It’s just a celebration of women throughout history and the importance of women who have something to say,” Thornton said of the collection.

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