Fashion Shows: New York v London

Their fashion shows got glitterati; all we got was Jerry Springer. By Jonathan Thompson and Lauren Veevers
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The Independent Online

In fashion terms, it was not only a mismatch; it was a bona fide disaster. New York's fashion week earlier this month had a glittering cast of trendsetters packing the front rows, from Anna Wintour and Diane von Furstenberg to Nicole Richie and L'il Kim. In London meanwhile, until the last day, Jerry Springer was about the best we could do.

Once again, London fashion week proved blander, less innovative and less noticeable than its New York counterpart. It is a trend causing no little consternation in the London fashion world, particularly after Paul Smith became the latest big name to consider a permanent move abroad.

Hamish Bowles, US Vogue's European editor-at-large, said London's decline coincided with the graduation of its golden generation. "A few years back, London had a very strong generation of designers, like Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, Stella McCartney and Matthew Williamson," said Mr Bowles. "Ever since they all left [for Paris or New York] there has been a void in the city."

The one highlight of the show was Marc Jacobs, the influential US designer, who gave a London exclusive to mark the opening of his first British store. Jacobs' closing show at Claridges hotel and after-show party finally saw the A-list jet in, with film director Sofia Coppola joined by Fight Club star Edward Norton, supermodel Naomi Campbell and designer Vivienne Westwood.

Jacobs, who describes himself as "a total Anglophile", said he had long wanted to show in London. "I've always felt there was shared aesthetic between New York people and London people in terms of music, pop culture and trendy fashion, so I think this is a fun thing to do."

But the fashion event cannot survive on one-off shows, and critics have argued that designers such as Armani and Marc Jacobs only show up how lightweight London's fashion week has become against New York, Paris and Milan, which have dozens of big-name designers every year.

London has long been the most beleaguered of fashion shows, failing to secure top designers, international fashion editors and celebrities, but there is some cause for hope. Michael Roberts, Vanity Fair's fashion director, believes things will change. "London has always been very cyclical: there is a high point followed by a slump and we are now seeing the city on the rise again," he said.

Last season Italian designer Giorgio Armani's one-off transatlantic switch to London overshadowed all home-grown designers with his fashion and music extravaganza. British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman said talks were under way for another international fashion star to show in London in the autumn, and that big names such as Armani and Jacobs were just as important as home-grown talent.

"The idea that only home-grown designers show in each city is really an old-fashioned notion," said Ms Shulman. "Having international designers here does nothing but good."

New York

THE EDITOR: Anna Wintour

The US 'Vogue' editor was a regular on New York fashion week's front row to see and be seen at many of the shows, including Donna Karan and Marc Jacobs. 'Nuclear' Wintour's take on the designs is a huge influence on the season's must-haves.

THE DESIGNER: D V Furstenberg

President of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the esteemed fashion designer, best known for her hallmark wrap dress, had her own show in New York, and was also spotted on the front row of the Calvin Klein show and at Marc Jacobs' show.

THE CELEBRITY: Nicole Richie

Reality TV star Nicole Richie was pictured with boyfriend Joel Madden at the Zac Posen show, perhaps giving an indication of the style she will be following this season. While better known for rehab than her dress sense, her patronage will boost sales.


THE EDITOR: MIchael Roberts

The 'Vanity Fair' fashion director attended London fashion week to see Paul Smith's new lines. While Smith was no doubt grateful he made the journey from New York, his endorsement pales into insignificance next to a nod of approval from Ms Wintour.

THE CELEBRITY: Peaches Geldof

Bob Geldof's daughter showed up the Elle Style awards, which kicked off London fashion week. Fancying herself a pundit, she criticised both Madonna and Victoria Beckham's style. She was spotted supporting Welsh designer Julien Macdonald's show.

THE DESIGNER: Zamdra Rhodes

The British designer, famous for her own flamboyant style, is very much a grande dame among the youngsters of London. She found time to take in some shows after her own. Designer Jonathan Saunders will be hoping her presence helps to boost his profile.