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London Fashion Week: An Overview



There are four major fashion capitals today; London, New York, Paris, and Milan. Each of these hosts two ‘Fashion Weeks’ per year. The Spring-Summer season is shown in September to November and Autumn-Winter runs January to April; giving the buyers for large retail organizations time to thoroughly plan their purchasing schedules.

Of late, some designers have started producing mid-season shows, Resort/ Cruising just before SS and Pre-fall before AW. These shows and performances tend to be smaller and slightly more informal; with some designers taking the opportunity to display their creations in less-well-known fashion arenas, such as Monte Carlo, Los Angeles, and Moscow.

London Fashion Week has been running for 28 years, having been first inaugurated in 1984. The British Fashion Council in association with the London Development Agency wanted to centralize a fragmented British Fashion industry and evolve it into something that could take its place on the world’s stage. In this, the newly-implemented BFC was supported by the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills.

In 2009, the 25th anniversary of the London Fashion Week, the British Fashion Council pledged to continue to develop LFW as a platform to support British designers. To this end, they have already changed their website to act as an industry portal for reference and resource for up-and-coming designers.

London Fashion Week has found a permanent and elegant home at Somerset House, but over the years has made appearances at several unlikely locations: in 1993 and 2009 it was hosted at the Natural History Museum, and in 1991 The Duke of York’s Headquarters played host to a completely tented London Fashion Week.

London Fashion Week has provided a launch platform for many iconic British designers. In 1987, when London Fashion Week itself was still relatively new and untested, a partnership between Antoni Burakowski and Alison Roberts resulted in the quirky ‘Be Happy’ t-shirts, which caught the fancy of the youthful trendsetters of the time. All these years later, Antoni and Alison were back this years, with their 51st show simply entitled ‘Models walking up and down in dresses’. Not too bad, considering their start-up finance was a mere £200!

London Fashion Week has also seen the debut of such star designers as fashion house Ghost, the absolutely fabulous Betty Jackson (CBE); David Fielden, whose wedding dresses are works of lacy, frothy art, and the exquisite John Galliano (CBE, RDI).

The UK fashion industry generates £21 billion for the national economy with orders of up £100 million being placed each season. Fashion is an equal opportunity employer, giving more opportunities to minorities than other creative industries, and employing a total of approximately 816 000 people. The latest London Fashion Week hosted press from 42 countries and buyers from 28; featuring perennial favorites as Philip Treacy & Preen and for the first time rag & bone. Vodafone is the principal sponsor, under the terms of the three-year contract initiated last year. The Rock Vault Dozen was announced this year; an invitation extended to 12 jewelers to create rings of palladium using up to 1oz of palladium. This was sponsored by the International Palladium Board and gave the winning jeweler a superb opportunity to have their work showcased alongside the nation’s top fashion designers.

London Fashion Week seems set to continue growing from strength to strength. Next year’s provisional dates are Autumn/ Winter 15th February to 19th February and if the latest showing is anything to go by the British fashion industry will continue to inspire and entertain us for many years yet to come.