Fashionable London descended upon Downing Street last night for a reception hosted by Sarah Brown to celebrate 25 years of British fashion – or, more specifically, the British Fashion Council, the organisation that oversees London Fashion Week.
Naomi Campbell (wearing an ivory Stella McCartney trouser suit), designers Betty Jackson, Nicole Farhi and Amanda Wakeley all dressed in their own designs, milliners Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones, and an excitable Julien Macdonald with the British flag draped across his shoulders, were in attendance.
The younger generation of designers was out in force also, with Luella Bartley, who showed her collection earlier in the day, Gareth Pugh, Henry Holland, Sophia Kokosalaki and Roksanda Ilincic.
Mrs Brown's choice of dress was a diplomatic one: she wore Jaeger – an aubergine knee-length crêpe cocktail dress. Harold Tillman, named president of the British Fashion Council earlier this year, is also CEO of the British high street brand. When asked, the Prime Minister's wife cited Wakeley and Graeme Black, formerly of Giorgio Armani, as other favourites.
"Fashion and Downing Street haven't always gone hand in hand," Sarah Brown said, "but I feel that Gordon has done his bit over the summer by losing a few inches". She extolled the virtues of London's creative industries, and fashion in particular. Soon afterwards, her husband made an appearance.
Mr Tillman said: "If I think back to my time at the London College of Fashion in the early Sixties... none of us had a clue that we were at the start of something that was going to be this big," before praising the talent of all in the room and announcing the launch of a British Fashion Council Fund in collaboration with Sir Philip Green to support young British talent.
While the event was a predominantly British affair, the presence of Diane Von Furstenberg, president of the Council of Fashion Designers Of America (CFDA) was significant. Ms Von Furstenberg is in London to hold emergency talks with the British Fashion Council to try to reach a compromise over the current over-lapping of next season's London and New York schedules, which threatens to truncate London Fashion Week to a mere three or four days. Industry insiders say the new dates are written in stone but Mr Tillman said no conclusion had been reached.