Fashion: Countdown to London Fashion Week - Who said fashion was just about clothes?

It may be three weeks away, but the tantrums, the battles for models, and the hype contests have begun. Melanie Rickey checks in on the younger guns to see how they are faring before London Fashion Week kicks into action with the eyes of the world (seriously) upon it.

It's official. London fashion is it. Not only is London the place to be for fashion happenings, it's fashion is so popular that New York's premier department store, Saks Fifth Avenue, is dedicating a whole week to promoting it in early September. They are calling it the British Invasion Part II, in reference to the first one back in the Sixties when Carnaby Street was swinging.

Competition between the young designers for a place on the schedule is particularly tough this season. Tristan Webber was lucky this time. He has been given a slot by the British Fashion Council for an official catwalk show. However, Anthony Symonds, former Graduate of the Year and Krizia designer, and Andrew 'the Fly' Groves were not. Groves's nick-name is thanks to the finale of his debut show which featured the model Georgina Cooper removing a tailored jacket made of cotton wadding to unleash specially bred flies. Ms Cooper was sick as soon as she came off the runway. "I don't understand why I'm not on the schedule," he says, "I have two books full of press clippings from my first show." That is true, but Groves (formerly known as Jimmy Jumble) gained no stockists. Just one shop, Covent Garden's Koh Samui, offers his clothes on a made-to-order basis.

The trouble with Groves is that he is into hype beyond anything else, much like his old friend Alexander McQueen was at the beginning of his career in 1992. Groves must be doing something right, though. He has already signed up with a big Japanese backer, and sold the worldwide rights to his name; all this before his clothes and image are famous. He acts as though fame is as sure as his next breath, and for his show Groves is guaranteed to gather an audience, despite the fact he will be clashing with an "official" catwalk show. He has hired Judy Blame as his stylist, but more importantly he has Simon Costin, McQueen's former art director, designing and staging his show. He promises no flies, but goes on to say "it will be better than that". Expect sick-bags to be on the seats, and those with front- row tickets fighting to sit on the back row. Who said fashion shows were about clothes?

Maybe that is why Tristan Webber is faring better on the fashion stakes. Liberty bought red leather jackets, and orchid printed chiffons. It even part financed the production costs. Koh Samui has bought a selection of his finely sculpted leather pieces.

Webber believes in his clothes, and is uncomfortable with hype. The only concession to the hype machine he has made this season is to his sponsors Tanqueray Gin, for which he has posed cheesily, with the cocktail he designed, the 'Webber UV Ice'. "I wanted it to smell a certain way, and have an eerie white/lilac glow to it," he says. That is in keeping with the theme for his collection. The cocktail contains Tanqueray, lime juice, sugar, Blue Bols and cranberry, and joins the McQueen Sling, the (Sam) McKnight Fever, and the Bikini (for Agent Provocateur).

Webber, who is still fresh from six years at St Martin's, knows that being on the schedule is the endorsement he needs, but also feels the pressure of expectation. He wishes he had the facilities of a couture house to execute his designs, but is making do with a fourth-floor studio in an old East End brewery, and his right-hand woman and stylist Corrine Sifflet Seymour. He is also a thinker. Indeed, he says: "What I do is based on a state of mind. I need to communicate my essential vision and if people understand that, fine. If they don't, that's fine too." His show is sure to attract all the movers and shakers keeping an eye out for the next big thing, as will Groves's, but this season it will be the clothes under scrutiny. A show is just a show, after all. It's fun, but it's the clothes that have to sell, and if they don't, what's the point?

For anyone who has ever wanted to attend a London fashion show, we have three pairs of VIP tickets to give away for Tristan Webber's show, courtesy of Tanqueray Gin. It takes place on Wednesday 25 February at 3.45pm. Winners must make their own way to and from the show. To apply send a postcard, to arrive no later than Monday 9 February, to The Independent, Tanqueray/Webber offer, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14, stating name, address and daytime phone number. The first three out of the bag will win.

Photograph by Ben Elwes

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
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.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all