If London Fashion Week is spread all over this vast and troubled metropolis — shows can be miles apart and woe betide the carless, luckless editor or buyer relying on the tube — the clothes are all over the map as well. Which is why we have prepared this handy LFW primer for you, in the form of a fun, challenging pop quiz!
Ready? Let’s start with an easy one:
Q. What unlikely celeb occupies the front row at Vivienne Westwood, a show where we are handed a manifesto on Gaia and global warming, and treated to models made-up like crazy wood nymphs, including an upper-ear sprayed gold?
A. Pam Anderson (with lobe unmolested.)
Q. What show includes an elaborate floor-to-ceiling array of inflatable animals — it’s a circus theme — distributes ice cream outside the door, and otherwise baits with promises of a good time, then switches to chartreuse windbreakers and dull ankle-length flimsy skirts?
A. Mulberry, apparently a house with money to burn.
Speaking of which: Q. What eminent designer puts what seems like 150 looks on the runway — bottom-grabbing pencil skirts; tiny purple Floradora dresses — and forbids photography (apparently to lend an air of exclusivity, but in this case, maybe to protect his reputation) and emerges on the runway at the end of the show, then stands around with a bunny-in-the-headlights look in his eyes, waiting for a standing ovation that never comes?
A. Tom Ford.
Q. What horrible trend spotted at Burberry and Tom Ford is intended to make you look like a literal basket case?
A. Scratchy, nasty raffia. This substance should return to the earth and be left to biodegrade in peace.
Q. What haunting song captivates the audience at Christopher Kane, where the clothes, including glitter brocade and appliqué flower-power blossoms, are a huge hit as well?
A. Lana Del Ray’s "Video Games," an enthralling contender for the I’m-Crying-So-Hard-I-Can’t See-the-Runway award, won last year by Adele’s "Someone Like You."
Q. What new designer for an old house at least partially acknowledged that brand’s iconic roots by showing a group of endearingly old-fashioned twin sets? (Look under the planks at a lot of the London collections and you will find a deep river of dowdiness running free.)
A. Pringle of Scotland, with Tilda Swinton, who shills for the company, gracing the front row, haughty and adorable in (one assumes) a Pringle pullover.
Q. What house ends its show with a shower of coppery confetti shaped like coins, perhaps to signify our increasingly worthless currency?
A. Burberry, where the palette is drab and some garments are decorated with faux-ethnic wooden beads.
Q. Who is responsible for the otherwise charming bubble-skirted flower frock that flips up so high you can see the model’s G-string, an event that makes certain front row denizens want to call out “free show!” as if we are still in junior high school?
A. Mary Katrantzou, who was digitizing flower prints long before other designers jumped on the horticultural–sartorial bandwagon.
Q. Which two designers offer wonderfully eccentric presentations, lubricated with champagne, a welcome change from increasingly tedious runway shows? The first offers models in animal masks, and the second a stage set of an imaginary forties Miami, complete with cabanas and bathing beauties sporting her characteristically high, cheerful shoes?
A. Markus Lupfer and Charlotte Olympia.
Q. Whose enthralling presentation includes two female rappers — London sensations Lioness and Shystie — surrounded by bored gorgeous people of all races (imagine that) in interesting headgear?
A. Accessories designer Nasir Mazhar, who manages to excite his viewers at 1/1000th of the cost of some of the heavy hitters this week.
Q. What duo's militantly anti-commercial show features slutty satin-clad Courtney Love wannabes dancing the cancan, a group of tiny ballerinas, and models clad in frock coats, vast fur-ball coat-dresses, and a pink jacket with a sequined sheep cavorting on its back?
A. Meadham Kirchhoff in an adventure as fascinating as it is nutty, leading at least one person — me — to want that pink topper so badly she is willing to literally risk looking like mutton dressed as lamb.
See the Complete Vivienne Westwood Red Label Spring 2012 Collection
See the Complete Mulberry Spring 2012 Collection
See the Complete Burberry Prorsum Spring 2012 Collection
See the Complete Christopher Kane Spring 2012 Collection
See the Complete Pringle of Scotland Spring 2012 Collection
See the Complete Mary Katrantzou Spring 2012 Collection
See the Complete Meadham Kirchhoff Spring 2012 Collection