The dawn of a grey and drizzly autumn morning was not the most auspicious of starts for the first day of the spring-summer shows at London Fashion Week. But, ever the optimist, British Fashion Council chair Natalie Massenet saw it as “a chance to wear beautiful fall fashions”.
As well as providing wardrobe advice, Ms Massenet used the launch of five days of catwalk shows, presentations and parties to underline the coming push to “reinforce London as the destination for global fashion”.
Ms Massenet was referring not just to courting the buyers with the power to showcase British brands globally, but the investors who can help to build a truly international brand.
Although the established wealth of big names such as Burberry Prorsum, Tom Ford and Mulberry help to underline the capital’s reputation, it is the creativity and vigour of young designers that are the selling points of London’s shows. In the coming week, they may attract rich funding.
Conglomerate Kering (formerly PPR) with a stable of brands including Gucci, Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney is rumoured to be eyeing JW Anderson for its next investment.
Kering announced last week that it had acquired a stake in New York based Joseph Altazurra, while in January it bought 51 per cent of Christopher Kane – the results of that investment are eagerly awaited at his show on Monday.
Ms Massenet also announced six ambassadors – including Sophia Neophitou of 10 magazine, Sarah Mower of American Vogue and Peter Fitzgerald of Google – who have volunteered their skills, contacts and experience to lead the implementation of the BFC’s five-point plan.
The fashion council is aware that retail is a key concern for fledgling labels – leading to The Shop being established on-site in order to generate sales, although it will also be invaluable for the feedback it will provide.
Of course, all these efforts and investments would be nothing without the wealth of design talent the city is known for fostering.
Jackie Lee’s label J JS Lee is a shining example of how London designers can marry commercial nous with creative experimentation. Her collection, inspired by a trip to the London Aquarium, featured a colour palette of aquamarine and pepto bismol pink, offset by navy and crisp white.
Fabrication was a strong point of the collection, which featured sheer bands of wax overlaid on gingham dresses and crepe wool tailored separates. Cigarette pants, shift dresses with hourglass detailing and grid-patterned fine gauge knits were refreshing and, above all, extremely sellable.
Duo Fyodor Golan, better known for their couture-inspired sensibilities and evening-wear aesthetic, created a collection that would not disappoint ardent fans of such occasion wear. The introduction of graphic ‘FG’ logoed sweatshirts, however, is a wise way to access a customer base more influenced by the street – a savvy move.
10 things to watch out for
The best celebrity spot
Hot off the Strictly dancefloor, Abbey Clancy will be pitching up to support Giles Deacon on Monday night. He made her wedding dress, after all. Fingers crossed for frills and feathers on and off the catwalk.
The best shoes
Manolo Blahnik established his legendary shoe label in 1971. Now he’s making his first foray into London Fashion Week – via a film created with the equally legendary Michael Roberts. We’re expecting footwear fireworks.
The best party
W magazine takes over Ian Schrager’s London Edition hotel to celebrate its September issue. The guest of honour? Fashion’s ubiquitous girl-of-the moment and ‘W’ cover star Cara Delevingne, back in her home town. Expect gurning.
The young hope
Ashley Williams is the new Luella Bartley, creating fun, colourful clobber for real girls. There’s no pretension: the first collection was called “Happy Ashley” and her last featured Generation Game-worthy cuddly toys. She shows as part of Fashion East on Tuesday.
The trend we’re most likely to see
Cropped tops, sequinned shifts, deluxe minimalism – the Nineties were everywhere in New York City. Given that London’s young breed of new talent have fond (childhood) memories of said decade, expect plenty of retro referencing.
The most anticipated show
This season sees the first Christopher Kane collection created with the might of fashion conglomerate Kering Group behind it. We’re expecting even more than usual from Brit fashion’s boy wonder.
A technophobe’s nightmare
Burberry Prorsum has joined with Apple to record its show on the HD iSight® camera of an iPhone 5S. Burberry chief creative officer Christopher Bailey calls it “the merging of physical and digital experiences”. We call it a “corporate selfie”.
The most noise
Protest usually bypasses London – there’s more fur flying in Milan and Paris. But Amirul Haque Amin, president of the National Garment Workers’ Federation, is using London Fashion Week to draw attention to conditions of workers in the global fashion industry.
The best drink
The Dorchester has created an array of cocktails inspired by four designers shortlisted for its fashion prize: Barbara Casasola, Fyodor Golan, Emilia Wickstead, and Huishan Zhang. Wickstead’s cross between a passion fruit martini and Moscow mule, centre, sounds just the ticket.
Rumours abound that the Topshop show space – set to host shows including Fashion East, Marios Schwab and Meadham Kirchhoff, as well as their own Unique line – involves a trek across Regent’s Park turf for both audience and models.