LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Mulberry looked to the garden parties of old to inspire its most modern fashion collection to date, as the brand on Friday launched a new format allowing shoppers to buy its wares straight off the catwalk instead of months later.
The label unveiled its latest designs - including dresses in floral prints recalling those adorning English tea sets - on the first full day of London Fashion Week, which runs until Feb. 20.
Mulberry, best known for its handcrafted leather bags manufactured in southwest England, is the latest fashion firm to experiment with a model dubbed "see now, buy now", making every item on show on Friday immediately available to clients.
Traditionally collections only are manufactured after the runway displays, when feedback from department stores and fashion critics is in, landing in stores six months later.
British peer Burberry, set to unveil its next collection on Feb. 17, was another early adopter of the revamped fashion calendar, while other rivals are still split over its merits.
"We're going more to the consumer," Mulberry Chief Executive Thierry Andretta said after the show, which ended on a musical note as singer Alison Goldfrapp appeared on the runway belting out one of her duo's hits, with the fitting refrain "I can't wait anymore".
Models paraded in oversized hats recalling those worn at British racecourses like Ascot, while the spring-summer collection featured linen suits and silk dresses with ruffled edges, a motif also present in the trimmings of some of the handbags.
Designs in multi-coloured stripes were inspired by the patterns of seaside deckchairs, according to the show notes.
Designer Johnny Coca said he was not troubled by having to nail down the looks months in advance of the runway display.
"In a way I was just doing a collection as always," Coca said. "It's interesting just to see how you can change the rules to deliver the show."
Fashion brands have traditionally presented collections for the following autumn and winter season in February.
(Reporting by Sarah White; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)