English checks highlight Mulberry's London catwalk

SYLVIA HUI

LONDON (AP) — Tweed checks, hounds-tooth twinsets, a cheeky "Rule Britannia" catwalk soundtrack: Luxury brand Mulberry on Sunday delivered the most quintessentially British showcase yet at London Fashion Week.

The heritage brand, one of the biggest-selling British labels and best known for its leather handbags, went to town with classic English checks. There were bold supersized checks, sequined checks, check panel details on shoulders and sleeves, and if you really loved your checks, follow the models and layer them up in different sizes in a single outfit.

Emma Hill, Mulberry's creative director, is known for her playful approach to fashion - past collections have been inspired by the fairground or children's books. This season, though, there's more elegance and less girlishness.

Some of the seriousness came from the deep, autumnal shades dominating the collection: burgundy, navy, forest green, rust brown, metallic emerald. Even the floral prints were muted and dark.

Against such a background, the occasional shot of color had great effect - a pair of dusty pink cropped trousers worn with a navy jacket drew several nods of approval from the audience.

The collection was strongest in jackets and coats: in mohair, wool or luxurious sheepskin; double-breasted, adorned with high furry collars, or with pretty bell sleeves that end just above the elbow. There were capes, too, in dark thick leather that screamed luxury.

Silhouettes tended to hide the waistline, and layering was a key look - especially box-pleated or swing skirts layered over calf-length trousers.

Sunday's show, held at London's historic Claridge's hotel, drew American Vogue editor Anna Wintour and style maven Alexa Chung to its front row.