Yes, the latest round of press-days is upon us to showcase designers' wares from Spring/Summer 2009 - and what better way to start than with the indominable Mandi Lennard, a mere snow-dusted (or rather, sludge-speckled) hop around the corner from SHOWstudio on Hoxon Street. Mandi has the edge over much of her competition on two fronts: the star-studded phalanx of fashion's finest she represents, and the constantly changing themes that see her press room transformed season to season. For winter it was Mandi's basement New Yoik style and last spring was strewn with big-cat prints. This time, it was rather more visceral - 'Meat the Butcher', inspired by Central Saint Martins' graduate Yang Du's carnivorous entrail-embroidered faux furs, meant that Mandi's basement was awash with gore by the way of painted pork-chops and blood-red goodie bags (luckily, a theme not carried through to the nibbles).
The real meat on offer at Mandi's was, as always, her designers. Everyone seemed to make a beeline for Gareth Pugh's corner - well, an Elizabethan epic of a ruff cleanly four feet in diameter is bound to attract attention. Alas, try as I may I was unable to cram my beefy neck in to its narrow sample-sized confines. The surprising thing, however, was just how wearable the vast majority of Gareth's vice-versa monochromism seemed on the rail - albeit minus the leather-panelled breastplates projecting like the Titanic's prow. Henry Holland's floral and polka-dot separates bore up under closer inspection, as did Danielle Scutt's printed chiffons, with a zip-scarred Betty Boop gracing a practically transparent romper and giant lipsticks floating across a moody grey sky on gored skater-skirts and flippy frocks. Following on from his dark presentation at London Fashion Week was Nasir Mazhar's installation of rather ominous floating headpieces were seemingly inspired by cardinals' galeros - suspended above their tombs following death, the old tradition is that when the hat finally falls down it is a sign that the cardinal's soul has been released from purgatory. Slightly more light-hearted were Roksanda Ilincic's tulle-swathed raw-edged slithers of silk-satin, embroidered with quivvering feathers, tinkling with laser-cut crystals and appliqued with rambling, overblown roses: sheer, sherberty sweetness made flesh.