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July 30 2014

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At London Fashion Week: Accessories To Die For (Or Kill With)

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If you want to distill the difference between the London fashion scene and the New York fashion scene down to a single particular, this isn’t a bad one: Whereas your typical New York It girl tends to show up to a crowded after-party in something sleek and recently off-the-runway, in London, she wears a vintage bathing suit, fishnets, and a banana on her head. That, at any rate, was the look Noisettes front woman Shingai Shoniwa was working at the Vivienne Westwood party at the St Martins Lane Hotel last night. “Oy, my hair wasn’t working tonight so I put the hat on,” she explained.

And why not? The guy across the room is wearing rhinestone-crusted football pads, and the one elbowing his way to a drink at the bar is kitted out like a goth Robin Hood, after all. Taken individually, some of these outfits border on the ridiculous. Taken together, they put the flights of fancy by London designers into a useful context. A collection inspired by Christmas trees? Why not, says Meadham Kirchhoff. Models wearing crowns made out of pipe cleaners and cake decoration? Why not, says Nasir Mazhar, the Gaga-approved milliner who made the crowns for the label’s Fall ’10 show. A jewelry collection comprising cast vampire bat skulls, scorpions, and giant squid mandibles? Why not, says Dominic Jones.

Jones presented his new collection—his second—on Saturday night at a cocktail party at the Sanctum Soho Hotel. Like his debut, the collection taps a vein of the macabre. Jones explained that he was thinking of predators this time around, and that he’d sourced the skeletons for his metal-cast baubles from college research laboratories, taxidermists, and, in the case of that giant squid, from a fisherman in Japan who caught the thing and posted its jaw to Jones via express mail. “I’m always interested in taking something frightening and making it beautiful,” he noted. “Sort of like, agghhh becomes aahhhh…”

Hannah Martin, another of England’s up-and-coming jewelry designers, works the opposite way. The Cartier-trained Martin makes fine jewelry of incredible refinement, but with an edge of danger; for her second collaboration with designer Hannah Marshall, Martin honed that edge to switchblade sharpness. (That’s her ring, pictured, with Marshall’s clothing.) “This season, it was lots of slashes and slicing, and early images of Grace Jones,” Martin says of the inspirations for her catwalk costume jewels. As for their collaboration, call it kismet—or call it similar names and a publicist in common. The poor guy was constantly fielding requests for Hannah Martin dresses and Hannah Marshall rings. After that, says Martin, “we figured we might as well start working together.” Why not?

Photo: Courtesy of Hannah Martin

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