Sydney-based designer Kit Willow has shown at London fashion week before—back in 2004, when her label was still in its infancy. Today, the designer is a fully paid-up member of the Australian fashion establishment, with five stores Down Under, strong international sales, and most significantly, an identifiable look. This season, as she returned to the London catwalk, she decided to hark back to her brand's roots. This was a collection steeped in Willow signatures, including draped leathers, nude tones, and Madame Grès-inspired tulle micro-pleating. First and foremost among her signatures, however, is her lingerie-inspired construction, and in this collection it provided most of the jolt. Updating a vintage Dior technique, she created single-wire bustiers that girded a gravity-defying strapless dress and crisp, skin-flashing tops. A single-wire bra top also recurred as a proper underpinning, visible beneath floaty sheers.
Willow pushed her sheer theme hard this season, but not always to great effect. There were too many garments that just looked shapeless, though the non-silhouette silhouette worked better when the fabric itself was intriguing. To wit, the luminescent sheer material from couture textile house Jakob Schlaepfer: Unbelievably fine and incredibly cool, it made the models in the two show-closing looks appear as though they were emerging out of the shimmering desert heat. Those closing looks were helped, too, by the fact that the dresses worn beneath the Schlaepfer sheer were interesting—new takes on Willow's characteristic articulated body-con, with hand-embroidered copper sequins creating a tubular effect. All in all, though, this collection felt a little unfocused, as though Willow had addressed herself to tuning up the various signatures of her brand at the expense of really developing her best ideas.