LONDON (AP) — Soft, lacey pastel confections at Burberry Prorsum, wacky florals at Christopher Kane, sparkly party dresses at Tom Ford: London Fashion Week was in full swing Monday, with a huge diversity of new spring looks from a parade of big names all jostling for buyers' attention.
Luxury British label Burberry packed in the biggest crowds with its runway show, which featured a collection of ultra-feminine pastel outfits, sheer pencil dresses and light cashmere coats.
Designer Christopher Bailey said it was all about romance and softness — and as if the floral details and lace prettiness weren't enough, he drove the point home by closing his show with a shower of pale rose petals.
"I wanted everything to feel like you are being enveloped in fabric. I wanted people to feel warmed by it," Bailey said after the show.
If that's not your cup of tea, there were plenty of other inspirations for next season's wardrobe on show Monday. Tom Ford, for example, went in the opposite direction, showcasing a catwalk of leather biker jackets, glamorous black double-breasted trouser suits and slinky little dresses for partying the night away.
The American designer said the collection, which also included some ultra-sparkly catsuits, had a powerful and strong woman in mind.
"There's nothing stronger in our culture than a beautiful woman who's also physically strong," Ford said.
Day 4 of the 5-day style event is traditionally reserved for London's blockbuster shows, and a host of celebrities joined the fashion crowd on the front row. Colin Firth and Cate Blanchett were spotted at Ford, while Naomie Harris, Sienna Miller and One Direction's Harry Styles turned up at Burberry.
Other hot tickets Monday included Kane's, which featured florals — but not as you know it. Kane, one of the most influential among London's younger generation of designers, showcased prints of flowers dissected, complete with the biological names of the plant's parts.
Monochrome reigned at Erdem, which created a poetic and haunting mood with wispy layers of sheer tulle and organza. Those who prefer color in their spring and summer wardrobes need not worry, though: Roksanda Ilincic was among designers who worked with vibrant tones, with color blocks from sunshine yellow to neon green.
London Fashion Week winds down with its last shows Tuesday, when models, buyers and editors pack up and leave for more runway previews in Milan and Paris.
Romance was in the air at Burberry, which showcased a collection of feminine lace dresses, soft cashmere cardigans and organza shirts in pastel shades of rose, mint, lavender and cornflower blue.
The color palette and textures may be sweet and dreamy, but there was also a sassiness and a sexiness to the designs. Some models wore nothing but loose unlined wool coats in simple clean shapes, while others sported head-to-toe see-through lace outfits and barely-there floral print skirts.
Outerwear is Burberry's strong point and although there were none of its signature trench coats in sight, the collection featured plenty of light cashmere and wool coats in a loose and relaxed cut.
As with everything Tom Ford, his new womenswear collection is slick, opulent and full of sex appeal.
Set in a darkened room with mirrored walls, Ford opened with luxurious brown leather jackets and dresses, then moved on to a series of mostly monochrome mini dresses in zebra print, an oversized fishnet pattern, or black mesh overlaid with cobweb-like patterns. There were big statement party dresses covered in sparkly beading, and catsuits encrusted head-to-toe in mirror pieces.
More practical for most women would be the sharp black trouser suits: One had a sexy lace-up back, and another was double-breasted with satin panels.
Kane's show started out with a science fiction vibe, with outfits that featured daring teardrop peepholes. Some of the first models wore metallic paisley cutouts on their collars or lapels, suggesting something from Star Trek.
There were diaphanous gowns with lots of pleats, as well as more girl-next-door sweaters bearing words like "PETAL" and "POWER." Less accessible were Kane's hologram-effect dresses with delicate, glittery streamers — these could be party wear in the year 3013. Also on the odd side were sheer black dresses festooned with traffic-sign arrows pointing at each other.
Erdem's catwalk show was a black and white romance, a haunting and dreamy tale told purely in monochrome.
Dresses and separates were made of sheer tulle and organza embroidered with delicate lace, and many looks had wispy layers of sheer fabric trailing behind the shoulder like a soft cape or a bridal veil. Feathers added to the collection's couture look, though the softness was offset by the bulky jelly clog shoes the models were wearing.
"He's so clever — I loved all the wide leg trousers that were see through. It was so dreamy and beautiful, it made me a bit teary," said model Daisy Lowe.
Ilincic has given her feminine style a bolder spin this season, with vibrant graphic blocks of neon orange, green and purple and experimental dress shapes.
There are still her signature calf-length, A-line skirts that emphasize a tiny waist, but Monday's show conveyed a much stronger woman overall. There were pleated skirts worn over skinny trousers, big padded jackets, and skirts with stiff pleats.
The show closed with dresses and jackets embellished with hard crystal flowers — luxurious for sure, but it's femininity with an edge to it.
Associated Press writer Raphael Satter contributed to this report.
Sylvia Hui can reached at http://twitter.com/sylviahui