Style: Mary Katrantzou AW12

All hail Queen Mary. Over the last few seasons Mary Katrantzou has emerged as one of London’s leading young designers, her innovative use of prints and structural dresses setting fashion lover’s hearts everywhere fluttering. Her recent collaboration with Topshop took her to the masses, with the Oxford Street store collection stripped bare almost immediately.

For AW12, Katrantzou showed seven colour groups, each based on everyday objects. The yellow section was inspired by the humble HB pencil and included a dress actually embroidered with yellow pencils. We also saw typewriters, hedgerows and teapots used for prints: a fabulously eclectic collage of the everyday made surreal. “It was about showing product placement through different colours,” the designer explained after the show. “I chose the items per colour: it was important to me to associate colours with one everyday, mundane item.”

Katrantzou is perhaps best known for her SS11 tulip shaped dresses and we saw a progression of her structural technique with clever capped waists and sleeves. She also branched away from structure with some gorgeously girly floaty chiffon dresses, showing that she is definitely not a one hit wonder.

The biggest success of this collection is that even though it is made up of barmy references, it looked sophisticated and precise, rather than thrown together. We are used to seeing visionary designers do crazy and abstract and ending up completely unwearable but with Katraztzou, every single piece just really works. The best part is that Katrantzou seems a really warm and genuine person and always engages with her fans over Twitter, which is really endearing. I just can’t wait to see what she’s going to do next!

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Style: McQ AW12

While the menswear at McQ AW12 was beautifully tailored, this collection was really all about the girls. Taking the label’s dark romantic heritage as a starting point, Creative Director Sarah Burton invited us into her stunning winter fairy tale vision. As the models crunched over golden leaves, we were presented with a collection that started with severe military outerwear and progressed through embroidered velvet skirts and dresses to the grand finale of tulle ballgowns.

This was the first time the McQueen label has shown in its hometown and the first ever catwalk show for the diffusion line McQ. Still riding high from an amazing 2011, Burton showed us a brand that is confident and strong; in keeping with its heritage, but looking to the future. Only six years old, McQ is their affordable line but the stunning detailing in embroidery and embellishment, and precise cutting showed that affordable can still be luxury.

The New Look shaping in the ballgowns showed a significant departure from last season’s main line collection, which was more architectural. This season was all about  exploring the balance between hard and soft femininity. The last two looks were matching black and white tulle ballgowns with lace overlay in winter florals and brought to mind the evil sorceress and the princess from a fairy tale. As the last model, Kristen McMenamy, made her way back, she grabbed a rope from under the leaves and followed it to a little hut in an illuminated forest at the back of the runway. Was this the woodcutters shed? As she left, we heard dance music coming from backstage. At McQ the happy ending wouldn’t be complete without a good party.

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