'Sam Cam' opens London Fashion Week amid cuts warning

Britain's first lady, Samantha Cameron, opened London Fashion Week Friday in her first appearance as the event's ambassador, while a key figure said the industry was "suffering" under her husband's cuts.

Keeping her style British in a short black dress by Mulberry and a black Sykes jacket, Prime Minister David Cameron's wife described her "passion" for fashion and its importance to the British economy.

British Fashion Council (BFC) chairman Harold Tillman welcomed her involvement but warned of the impact of spending cuts on his organisation, which receives state funding to promote emerging talent and British designers.

"We feel very upbeat and excited about the week ahead, but there's no doubt that this year will be difficult as we are all suffering alongside many other organisations from the cuts the government have made," Tillman said.

The autumn-winter 2011 collections kicked off with a riot of colour from Paul Costelloe, who sent his models down the catwalk with bright pink hair and stunning mini-skirt suits in hot pink, yellow and orange.

One of the most hotly-anticipated shows this season is Saturday's collection from Issa, who designed the blue dress worn by Kate Middleton when she announced her engagement to Prince William last November.

Meanwhile American designer Tom Ford will reportedly be showing his womenswear collection for the first time in London, although only during a series of private appointments with selected fashion editors.

Speaking at the opening of the six-day event Friday, Samantha Cameron said: "I am passionate about fashion so it's a real honour to be here as an ambassador to the British Fashion Council.

"That passion isn't just about how fashion makes people feel. It's about what it can do for our country."

The 39-year-old was appointed BFC ambassador last year but was unable to attend September's shows because she had just given birth to her fourth child.

Ahead of a reception she is hosting for designers at her husband's Downing Street office later Friday, she said fashion was one of Britain's "most important industries", worth more than £20 billion ($32.5 billion, 24 billion euros) a year.

Irish-born designer Costelloe opened proceedings with a range of bright autumnal colours in tartan and houndstooth.

His only daughter, 24-year-old opera singer Jessica, modelled a red coat dress with a nipped-in waist and swinging mid-thigh skirt, grinning broadly at the cameras with her long, brown curls bouncing on her shoulders.

Her brothers took part in last season's shows but she had stayed backstage.

All the other models sported outlandish dyed-pink bobs as they showcased structured necklines, pleated skirts and wide swing coat dresses for a fun, youthful collection.

Meanwhile Caroline Charles, the veteran British designer who used to dress Princess Diana, took her inspiration from the late 19th and early 20th century suffragettes fighting for the vote.

With typically elegant and understated glamour, she presented slender skirts with ruffles at the back reminiscent of a bustle, blazers and jackets in tweed, herringbone and plaid, finished off with bowler hats and printed fedoras.

A muted autumnal palette was livened up with animal print and splashes of colour, from a red snake print dress to a leopard skin shift and wide trousers, and a turquoise tweed coat worn with a black silk skirt and turquoise tights.

Although lower profile than New York, Milan and Paris, London Fashion Week has made its name as a breeding ground for talented young designers, including Christopher Kane, who won this year's BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund.

Kane, who will receive £200,000 as well as mentoring from top figures in the industry under the prize, will be showing his latest collection on Monday.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

    £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

    Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

    £23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

    Day In a Page

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...