LONDON Fur and feathers ruled the runway at London Fashion Week for autumn/winter 2013, liberally applied to cuffs and collars, hemlines and hoods to jazz up otherwise simple styles.
American designer Tom Ford pieced together heavy coats from snippets of dyed fur and long, mane-like bristles traced the spine and neckline of a sequined zebra print evening dress.
Eagle plumes topped the wide-brimmed hats of Issa London, while fur and feathers also adorned the block colour coats and dresses of PPQ.
Clean, simple palettes of jet black, charcoal greys, creamy vanillas and midnight blues paraded at Temperley London, Bora Aksu and Zoe Jordan while warm autumnal tones of caramel, ochre, russet red and deep plums radiated at Issa London, Matthew Williamson and Holly Fulton.
"There seems to be a real effortless simplicity around, very unfussy, unstructured easy chic going on and the palettes are fresh - there are blacks and creams with a little bit of soft pink," said Brix Smith-Start, stylist and TV presenter.
Although global growth worries still hover over the luxury market, designers focused on silks and other luxury fabrics to tempt consumers back into stores.
With buyers from 39 different countries attending, the British Fashion Council estimates orders of more than 100 million pounds are placed during London Fashion Week each season.
Designers also fused fur, wool and leather, layering cotton with translucent rubber at Burberry, felt wool mixed with lace at Christopher Raeburn and feathers with sheer silks at Christopher Kane.
"It's all about fabric and texture for next fall, with experimental surfaces and techniques like glazed knits, fused (not sewn) seams, and bonded fabrics, like leather bonded to neoprene," said Sharon Graubard, fashion director of forecasting agency Stylesight.
"Luxury will pervade all, with furs, dense woollens, cashmeres, leathers — everything will be cosy and appealing to the touch," she added.
Embellishment also looks set to become a key trend, with designers like Erdem, Julien Macdonald, and Peter Pilotto all adding a variety of floral applique and jewelled sequins to their collections.
Hemlines headed lower, with full flared skirts at Vivienne Westwood, Jonathan Saunders, Eudon Choi and Topshop's Unique label, paired with cropped sweaters and loose billowing shirts to create elegant and ladylike silhouettes.
"There has been a lot more demure clothing on the runways ... the hemlines are slightly lower, the clothes are whispering, they're not screaming," said Sasha Wilkins, founder of fashion and lifestyle blog LibertyLondonGirl.
Androgynous tailoring also seen at Paul Smith, Nicole Farhi and Richard Nicoll with silk printed shirts, colourful patterned tunics and tailored blazers and coats.
"I think next autumn/winter will be all about the coat. The 'it' coat has replaced the 'it' bag. It might be a big, boxy coat, a fabulous fur, a reshaped down jacket, or a new take on the duffel coat or the trench," said Graubard.
As London Fashion Week draws to a close, all eyes will turn towards Milan as the next event on the calendar on Wednesday before the finale of the season in Paris.
($1 = 0.6460 British pounds)
(Additional reporting by Rollo Ross)