Lillian McKnight • 23 October 2012

After an extended absence from the London runway, Kit Willow marked her return to Blighty for SS2013 with a collection rich in the signatures that have made her eponymous label such a success at home and abroad. Corsetry, cutaways, generous draping and buttery leathers all mark Dream Possession as an archetypal representation of Kit’s girl. A refreshed palette and imaginative use of textures, though, confirm that, while the brand has elucidated an aesthetically unique canon, Willow is still committed to branching out beyond the tried-and-true trademarks.

Inspired by the hinterland between sleep and wakefulness, Dream Possession is a surreal sartorial exploration. Heavily structured corsetry is softened with diaphanous tulle and air-light silks, while the lavish draping makes for a collection that moved with a heady sensuality down the catwalk. Up close and personal with the pieces at the SS2013 press showing, however, it’s evident that the beauty is also in the smaller picture.

Rather than overblown attempts at embellishment, the appeal of a Willow garment lies in the restrained elegance of its details. To this end, hand woven embroidery edging dresses and gowns is subtle Willow sophistication at its finest. Leather, as always, is almost unbelievably soft without feeling insubstantial. Artistry can also be seen in the immaculate single-boned bralettes, layered under floaty designs to ground them and give a hint of sensuality to the whimsy.

The key print this season— a painterly design in a juicy tangerine hue— is splashed across pristine whites and the perennial Willow favourite of an easygoing silk trouser for a look that ticks the seasonal boxes. So, too, does the zing of blood orange in nearly-transparent tulle and arctic blue.

The showstoppers at Willow’s most recent London show were the closing exits— aqueous translucent tunics layered over clean bodycon and rimmed in high-shine bronze embroidery. On the catwalk, these appeared as shimmering mirages. In person, the haute couture fabric is just as remarkable— cool and smooth between the fingers, and perceptible as a nearly incorporeal sheened haze, it is testament to the Willow innovation.

Cementing the esteem with which Kit Willow is held in the international community, the designer has collaborated with footwear supremo Christian Louboutin on a range of booties created especially for the fashion week showing. That the creations will not be available for purchase is an indictment on fans of both brands— imbuing the Louboutin brand with Willow’s luxe rock’n’roll vibe (think python skin and plenty of it), the capsule has us hoping that we’ll be able to get our feet into a pair some time in the future.

Dream Possession will begin to drop in Willow boutiques December 3. It will also be available via the recently launched online store.