Giles S/S 16

London Fashion Week catwalk report

The grand venue for GILES’ S/S 16 show acted as more than a stunning backdrop. “I’ve wanted to do something at Banqueting House for quite some time and the history of the building has directed this collection,” Deacon said backstage before the show on Whitehall. Originally commissioned by Cardinal Wolsey in 1514 as an extension of York Palace, Henry VIII later acquired it as a sovereign residence and Elizabeth I used it for entertainments and courtly masques, often performed by transvestites. “David Holah, co-founder of Body Map and one of my tutors at Central Saint Martins, was inspired by this to create a collagraph of Elizabeth I and her Tudor trannies,” Deacon added. “We have translated this into a naïve print used throughout the collection.”

Front of house filled up with press, buyers and influencers such as Jerry Hall, Daisy Lowe, Jasmine Guinness, Colin McDowell, Abbey Clancy, Little Foxes, Clara Paget, Millie Mackintosh and Brix Smith-Start. All eyes were drawn to the room’s centrepiece, a golden shaft topped with eerie wheat sheaves, and on up the ceiling - a Rubens painting commissioned by Charles I, which was famously the last thing he saw before being guillotined from one of the building’s windows.

All thoughts of ghouls were banished as Philippe Blache’s of Day Before Us struck his first ambient cord and Grace Bol wafted into view in a cotton poplin puff sleeved blouse and lycra leggings festooned with queenly motifs in shades of chocolate and cream. Echoed across the next looks, Binx Wilson wore a body suit and Alek Wek wore a ribboned satin dress topped off with a birds nest hat by Stephen Jones. Regal attire continued with gossamer-light prints caressing granddad shirts and frilled slips and intoxicating red berries creeping up shifts and balloon-hemmed smocks.

Anna Cleveland appeared, waving a wand and dancing around the hall in Jimmy Choo patent pointed heels. She cast her spell on the audience in a frock coat and bodysuit covered in a print fit for a feast. Pheasants, parrots, monkeys and tropical fruit gave a nod to Sir Walter Raleigh’s new world discoveries and also informed delicate embroideries on a gold satin bustier and voluminous dresses. Glistening jacquard referenced 18th century Soho tapestries on bell skirts and jackets with pinched waists.

Foxglove soft focus florals and 3D embellishments cascaded over a run of pale pink, floor length chiffon dresses and a silky pyjama suit. These cleansed the palate for the final series of looks made up of dramatic black dresses in fantastical shapes. Micro pleating and laser cutting evoked the essence of memento mori talismans and wisps of lace caught between ruffs and pearl necklaces. Karen Elson closed the show by summoning up the spirit of Elizabeth I from the burnt embers of her palace. A dress to die for? Off with her head.

Words Helen Jennings