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DAKS Womenswear Autumn/Winter 2012

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For her DAKS womenswear Autumn/Winter 2012 collection in the year that the brand celebrates 50 years as holder of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's Royal Warrant, Sheila McKain-Waid took inspiration from the inherent dichotomies and similarities that are found in British landscape and architecture. The focal points of this very elegant collection are construction and the geometry and shapes created by sophisticated seaming, smoking and pleating techniques.

McKain-Waid studied Apparel Design at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology and completed a BA (Hons) degree in Textiles Design at the University of Kansas. Before DAKS, she honed her skills in dealing with luxury materials and craftsmanship at Halston, Donna Karen and Oscar De la Renta. With a personal appreciation for architecture (and citing Zaha Hadid as a role model), it is no surprise that her latest collection for DAKS is heavily architectural.

The layering and pleating effects evidenced throughout the collection rely on precise geometric balances that evoke twentieth century architecture movements such as Modernism and Art Deco. The overall shapes are elegantly elongated and made stronger by manipulating contrasting shapes, fabrics and colours.

In fact, the entire collection can be understood as a study in contrasts at many levels: Fine silk crepe dresses and blouses are paired with voluminous wools tweeds; delicate linear pleats are worn under cocoon-shaped coats; traditionally crafted Scottish knits are complemented by innovative laser-cut bags; modern technical nylons are traditionally quilted; rich layers are set against the clean lines of cutaway silks; fluid drapes are paired with soli knits; and rich reds and vicunas contrast with stark black and ivory.

As a whole, this is a highly accomplished collection of garments that embody a very different tone from the playful and colourful ambiance of the previous Spring/Summer 2012 range. Appointing McKain-Waid was most certainly a wise replacement to Giles Deacon (appointed in 2006 to design the womenswear range for three seasons) to keep the 118-year-old fashion house in tune with its tradition while keeping an eye on its commercial future.

Read more articles like this at The Style Examiner.