London Fashion Week: Kolchagov Barba F/W 2017

Ali Webb

Chandelier lights went up in an upscale hotel near Regents Park on Feb. 17 as models strutted down a spiral staircase in dark looks with feminine detailing. This image, along with dramatic background music, ushered in Kolchagov Barba’s Fall/Winter 2017 show.

The show’s title, “Black Coral,” was a thoughtful choice, as it accurately foreshadowed the collection’s overarching themes. Black dominated all looks, with hints of metallics or cutouts for contrast. Several outfits were pulled together with a wide, silver belt which added a degree of power and a possibly reflected the “coral” part of the name. Models wore stilettos, dramatic evening makeup and accessories — including statement earrings and fascinators — to produce an upscale effect.

The collection significantly contrasted its predecessor, a set of bright and flowy pieces entitled “Sky.” Other than changes in color scheme, the new looks used more cutouts and a variety of fabrics. Shapes were also different, with the previous collection featuring ruffling and draping shapes whereas “Black Coral” explored more geometric, artsy and sleek silhouettes.

Kolchagov Barba consistently plays with ways to showcase the modern woman’s body, both literally and as a metaphor for her status.The past and present collections demonstrated this practice in contrasting ways. “Sky” equated sensuality and passion with strength, and “Black Coral” celebrated the contemporary feminist, a woman who is unafraid to embrace power.

The clothing was very wearable, and most pieces would look beautiful and respectable at a formal event. However, designers Svetoslav Kolchagov and Emilio Barba are still finding a unique, creative identity. The last few looks — including a wedding dress with opaque and sheer horizontal stripes and a gown with a sharply-cut metallic bodice draped over an extremely poofy, voluminous mid-length skirt — showed promise to this end. While “Black Coral” was fairly ordinary, future shows could be more memorable and closer to being couture if the designers continue to experiment with abstract shape, unexpected color and unusual texture combinations.

Email Ali Webb at [email protected]

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