London fashion shows draw inspiration from painting, sportswear

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[February 18, 2014]  By Li-mei Hoang and Brenda Goh

LONDON (Reuters) London's fashion designers looked to painting and sportswear for inspiration as leading fashion editors, models and celebrities flocked to the capital's biggest runway shows on Monday.

British heritage brand Burberry sent models down the runway in long flowing dresses and scarves, daubed with brushstroke designs of flowers, leaves and autumnal abstract prints in shades of cornflower blue, lemon yellow and blush pink.

The show, which featured a live performance from musicians Paloma Faith, Ed Harcourt and Rhodes, was attended by actors Bradley Cooper and Naomie Harris, as well as U.S. Vogue editor Anna Wintour and Harry Styles from boy band One Direction.

Designer Christopher Bailey said he drew inspiration from artists in London's Bloomsbury Group of the early 20th century, which included painters Duncan Grant and Roger Fry.

"What I wanted to do is try to capture that spirit in the collection  the colors, embroideries, the fabrics  but also through all the hand painting on all the bags and the coats and the shoes and the belts," Bailey, who is set to become the company's chief executive soon, told reporters backstage.

Burberry's signature trench coats featured hand-painted designs and were cinched neatly at the waist, paired with knitted pencil skirts in shades of ochre, burnt orange, and russet reds.

American designer Tom Ford dressed his models in velvet tunics, leather pencil skirts, brightly colored fur coats and sequined football jerseys embellished with his name.

Floor-skimming skirts, cropped jackets and knitted dresses also featured in Ford's collection in luxurious fabrics such as leopard fur, alligator leather and cashmere.

"It was a pared-back, streamlined collection. It was a bit of a pullback but still very chic, very luxurious. It feels right to me," he told Reuters.

Ford said he was confident his label, which he founded in 2006 after leaving Gucci and YSL, was on the way to becoming one of the top international fashion brands in the world.

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Earlier in the day, Georgian designer David Koma, who was hired by Thierry Mugler in December to become artistic director, kitted out his eponymous collection with sharply tailored outfits in a range of luxurious textures.

Models wore pony hair-covered coats in bright violet or cobalt blue, concrete grey leather skirts and sculptural black dresses with midriff lattice cut-outs that were inspired by the portrayal of women in Renaissance paintings by German artist Lucas Cranach the Elder.

Design duo Peter Pilotto attempted to fuse sportswear with evening wear for their latest collection with puffer jackets digitally printed with mountain landscapes and floor-length gowns embroidered with mother-of-pearl which were inspired by their recent travels.

"We want to do something quite summery, like summery colors in a winter collection, so we wanted to use pieces of summer like shells and have them embroidered onto evening dresses," said co-designer Christopher de Vos.

"We find that sportswear is often so dynamic, the lines follow the body and it's sort of ergonomic. We found it fascinating to use that as an inspiration when doing formal wear," designer Peter Pilotto added.

(Writing by Li-mei Hoang; editing by Cynthia Osterman and Jan Paschal)

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