A first catwalk is a significant milestone in the life of anyone with a fashion interest. Seeing in the flesh the pictures you usually detail on Style.com, feeling the myth of a Fashion Week certainly is something to experience.
On the 20th of February, I attended Caroline Charles’ Autumn/Winter 2009 catwalk on the lawn of the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. I stood amongst full-fledged fashion journalists, a handful of bloggers, buyers and faithful clients, waiting for the doors to open. The catwalk started nearly on time, which came as a surprise considering how often reports claim that runways are known for their lack of punctuality. It was probably necessary, considering that the British Fashion Council timetable had a catwalk scheduled every hour. The longest thing wasn’t watching the models going up and down the runway but rather getting everyone in and out of the room.
In a London Fashion Week often praised for the extreme youth of its designers and their daring creations, Caroline Charles has been in the business for more than 40 years. She has been awarded an OBE for services to the industry and has clothes on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum. She’s known for dressing Emma Thomson for the Oscars and Diana, Princess of Wales. Her designs are British traditional with a classy twist, and this season was particularly representative of her style. The programme announced outfits “suited for challenging times”. The show was split into three parts, “Harvest Festival”, “Urban Cool” and “Gala Night”. The styling included straw baskets carrying dry grass and sheaves. It was quite a waist-centred collection, with most coast, jackets, tunics and dresses belted. Two models wore stockings and suspenders – both unexpected and slightly gratuitous since everything else was timeless and elegant. The hairdo was quite sophisticated and adorned by, as the show progressed, autumn leaves and fascinators.
The outfits in the first part could be worn at a country weekend. It was all tweeds, fake furs, leather and suede in earthly tones. The Urban Cool clothes were “designed by a working woman, for a working woman”, and you can just picture City executives wearing Charles’ tailor suits and loose fitting dresses. The bride was, head to toe, veil to tights, in red.
For the finale, the models walked down the runway carrying candles. And then, it was all over.
Article by Lucie Goulet