ANOTHER VIEW; I'll be streets ahead in London

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The Independent Online
My decision to move my women's wear show for Autumn/Winter '96 from Paris to London has surprised a lot of people in the fashion world. Why move, when we have just staged a very successful men's show in Paris?

My reasons for returning to London are quite emotive. I have always loved the energy and atmosphere of London Fashion Week; and although Paris is exciting, I feel that the essence and spirit of my women's wear collection is best expressed on the London catwalk.

Various press, buyers and colleagues have encouraged me to return, including Clinton Silver, chairman of the British Fashion Council, and before that Michael Heseltine, when he was trade minister. Over the years a lot of time and effort has gone into improving the organisation and international profile of London Fashion Week and I feel that the whole operation is really getting there now. Then during the last Paris fashion week, when I showed my Spring/Summer women's wear collection, I found myself thinking, "Do I really want to come back here?" In Paris there are 120 shows in one week - you are constantly fighting for everything that you want, including models. At our last show, we had to book six models who were coming straight from doing other shows.

In Paris, we found that a lot of buyers would be coming to London. Everyone is being extremely positive about London again. Foreign buyers like the fact that there are lots of young people showing their designs, there is a lot of energy and professionalism, without the over-crowded air of Paris. They come for the culture, they love all the street fashion.

The timing of London Fashion Week this season is also an advantage. If the dates fell after Paris and Milan, I would not have made the change. All the buyers would be too exhausted. This season, with London Fashion Week before Milan and Paris, they can see our collections first, while they are still fresh and have budgets to spend. They can also come to our showroom in Paris and see the collection again, with a video of the London show. I'm confident that this will give us the best of both worlds.

I have never felt altogether comfortable with showing my women's wear collection in Paris, although I am very happy to keep staging the men's show there. There is a different style about London that I feel suits my women's clothes better. I am not a couturier, not outrageous. In London, my clothes fit in with the sense of creativity, grounded in reality, in the way that real people want to dress.

I'm also lucky that when all the shows are over I can come home to Dublin, to work and to relax. I couldn't have a better base to be further removed from the hectic fashion capitals of London, Paris and Milan.

The writer was British Designer of the Year, 1993.

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