Even though L'Wren Scott knew what her clothes looked like when she booked the grand hall of the Institute of Engineers for her show venue, the symbiosis of location and collection was one of those perfect synchronicities where the whole added up to much more than the sum of its parts. The designer was nervous beforehand. In the past, she's shown in Paris and New York, but never in the city she calls home. "I live in the shadows in London, and this is coming out of the shadows," she explained. But, no shrinking violet, Scott came out in a subtle blaze of 23K gold, which seemed only right in the marbled, muraled building where empires were designed a century ago.
The precious metal was tattooed on her models' necks. It was hand-painted on prints, leafed on shoes, woven into tweeds, and threaded through Scott's acute tailoring—investment dressing with a vengeance. Her inspiration was the artist Gustav Klimt's gilded depictions of his obsessive love for the Viennese socialite and saloniste Adele Bloch-Bauer. Scott identified. "I'm as in love with what I do as Klimt was in love with Adele."
Obsession has always been a distinguishing characteristic of Scott's collections—the eye for detail, the attention to cut, the razor-sharp restraint. What was new this time was the sense that she has lost interest in restraint. "Dreaming of decadence," was the way she described her state of mind in the show notes. And Klimt offered the perfect visual co-relative. His swirling patterns were printed on coats and capes, his embossed textures were duplicated in extravagant jacquards and brocades, and a handful of fishtail evening dresses brought his paintings to life. The coiling serpents seemed especially ready for a red-carpet snake pit.
Hollywood glamour is Scott's default setting, with a slant toward the forties in the squared shoulders and nipped waists. But today it was more forties-gone-seventies, helped by Sam McKnight's clouds of disco hair, streamlined sheaths in sapphire and emerald, and a dress in gold-trimmed black velvet that could have stepped out of a decadent Helmut Newton scenario. It's not the first time this season that the excess of that era has exercised its appeal. Scott's explanation? "I'm ready to sparkle." So let's crown her homecoming queen of London's fall fashion season.