OK, everybody. Forget what you thought you knew about Emilia Wickstead, because the designer has suddenly done a fashion volte-face. The old Emilia Wickstead, very much a to-the-manor-born designer, known for her pink and citrus palettes and super-feminine silhouettes, suddenly went all goth-metal today, with a decidedly masculine edge.
The first few looks effectively jolted the crowd wide-awake (half of them were jet-lagged). A featherlight napa leather coat opened the show, and yes, it was beautifully tailored, but definitely dark and masculine. The pearl and Swarovski crystals appliquéd onto the seam lines added a much-needed lightness to the strong look. Then came python prints, which, when combined with a leather skirt, looked like some kind of "don't mess with me" city armor. A Matrix-esque leather coat followed, the whole thing made more armorlike by the "film noir" headgear inspired by a vintage photograph the designer keeps on her desk. These pieces still had Wickstead's hallmark tailoring and fabric innovations, but their look and feel were radically different from anything she has done before.
The crowd palpably relaxed as some more familiar looks came down. A tangerine jumpsuit had Wickstead returning to her citrusy color palette, then dresses in blue and cream lace overlay took us out of the goth-metal clubs and back, safely, to the manor. And then came the jumpsuit. It now seems like a garment we have to accept as a wardrobe mainstay, like a blouse or a trouser, and Wickstead's white take on it was mathematically perfect. As were the honeycomb dresses and coats in a luxurious black crepe that had buyers craning their necks for a closer look.
There were some ensembles that had no right to look good, but did, including a blush pink lace jacket over a python skirt. Its success may have something to do with the fact that Wickstead was using a stylist for the first time (Donatella Musco). Then there were other looks that were immediately gorgeous: namely, a cream and gray floral coat and dress that had sellout written all over them.
Wickstead is still relatively new to the scene, so it's good to know that she isn't getting complacent. Perhaps she felt she was getting pigeonholed into a certain mold and this was her way of breaking out, even if just for a few looks. Message received—and appreciated. After all, in fashion it's always better to surprise than to sedate.