This was a swan song of sorts. Next season Jo Sykes will show her first collection as the creative director of Nicole Farhi. And though Farhi herself will remain actively involved in her brand, it appears that she will no longer be its driving design force. So it's rather fitting that, this season, fashion has come to meet Farhi where she lives. Many of the emerging key themes for Spring 2013 are ones that she's been pursuing steadfastly for a long time. Sculptural shapes. Rich texture. Technical fabric development. Even her delight in materials such as Perspex and plastic has gone viral all of a sudden. Farhi didn't have to do much for her collection to look on-target this season; in the end, she did more than enough.
The collection Farhi showed today was inspired, she explained, by the marble mountains of Carrara, Italy—and by Edward Burtynsky's photographs thereof. She made the unexpected and interesting choice to explore that inspiration through time, using her studiously neutral palette to reflect the changing colors of the light falling onto the mountain faces, and innovating a variety of pleat constructions that suggested the shifting of shadows. The pleated pieces made for many of the collection's most winning looks, such as a belted nude dress with pleats set far apart, like straps, and the show-opening white shift boasting a single, sculptural pleat that fell like a sash across the body. There was also a very cool, chalky gray skirt with the pleats sewn in diagonally, a technique that lent a forgiving softness to the silhouette. That's some smart design, right there. Nicole Farhi could be handing over the reins for any number of reasons, but it's not because she's out of ideas.