April 21, 2024


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London Fashion Week: Celebrating 40 years of fashion shows

London Fashion Week: Celebrating 40 years of fashion shows

  • Written by Alex Taylor and Charlotte Gallagher
  • BBC Culture correspondents

Image source, Getty Images

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British models Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, pictured in 1999, have been mainstays of London Fashion Week since its early days

The stars are preparing to strike a pose to celebrate the 40th anniversary of London Fashion Week (LFW).

Originally the brainchild of PR guru Lynn Franks – and now a staple of the global fashion calendar – the bi-annual event was launched in 1984.

The smallest of the five major fashion weeks, this year's event brings the glitz and glamor to London until Tuesday.

But British Fashion Council president David Pemsel said economic challenges were putting pressure on the industry.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Pemsel said the cost of living crisis, interest rates and Brexit have all created difficulties for designers and fashion houses.

But he insisted the industry remains “resilient”.

“[Our] “Quality is highly respected in the industry: we have amazing designers doing amazing things.”

The anniversary edition of London Fashion Week will host 67 designers across 46 runways and 36 events, organizers say – with collections from many up-and-coming designers expected to appear off the grid.

Popular attractions include Prynne, Richard Quinn, Simone Rocha, Harris Reid, 16 Arlington, and Emilia Wickstead.

Harry Lambert, the man behind Harry Styles' look and Emma Corrin's wardrobe makeover, is also set to cause a stir.

Continuing the tradition, Burberry is set to conclude the official program on Monday with its Danielle Lee collection.

No doubt Vogue editor Anna Wintour will be selectively decorating the front row, casting her discerning eye on the latest trends from behind those signature shades.

Striking position (standing).

On Thursday night, some of London's most iconic landmarks, including Covent Garden, the London Eye and the Royal Opera House, were lit in green to mark the start of London Fashion Week's anniversary celebrations.

Over the past decades, LFW has showcased both established and emerging British talent – ​​from supermodels Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, to iconic designers including Matthew Williamson, Stella McCartney and the late Alexander McQueen.

Lynn Franks, who was the inspiration for Absolutely Fabulous's character Edina Munson, says she pushed for a London Fashion Week out of frustration – determined to give the city a dedicated space to promote her prowess, in line with other fashion capitals such as New York. Milan, Paris and Tokyo.

“We were not on the international calendar at all,” she told the Evening Standard. “I thought, if they can do it, why can't we?”

Although smaller than its counterparts in Milan, Paris and New York – which routinely boast global fashion giants – London is still known for its unique style and boldness.

“It's much more innovative,” Betty Jackson, a designer at the first fashion week, told the BBC. “I think we really have the best ideas. And we're not afraid.”

“I think a lot of the inspiration comes from young people wearing things on the street, wearing things in a different way,” she said.

The British Fashion Council's NewGen initiative continues to support the next generation of designers, while the Central Saint Martins MA show on Friday provides a platform for the brightest young stars of the London School of Art.

Unforgettable moments from London Fashion Week

Shalom Harlow spray-painted dress (1999)

Image source, Victor Virgil

In one of the most attention-grabbing moments of McQueen's countless fashion shows, two robots painted a dress worn by model Shalom Harlow.

Speaking to the Metropolitan Museum of Art about the experience, Harlow said she did not discuss the piece directly with the designer before the show.

“I like to think he wanted to intervene as little as possible and allow me to have as real and spontaneous an experience as possible,” the model told the Met.

Queen Elizabeth II joins Wintour in the front row (2018)

Image source, Getty Images

Fashion royalty met the real thing when Queen Elizabeth II joined Anna Wintour at British designer Richard Quinn's fashion show in 2018.

The late Queen, who was 91 years old, appeared completely smiling, wearing a turquoise jacket.

Writing a tribute piece for Vogue magazine After Elizabeth II's death in 2022, Wintour said the late queen “was very happy to be there, and told me how she had appeared in a fashion show long before she became queen.”

She continued: “She said it with such joy and humor that it carried through the room, which lit it up: an everyday occurrence for Her Majesty the Queen, an unforgettable occurrence for the rest of us.”

Alexander McQueen dancing on the catwalk (1997)

Image source, Alexis Duclos

The late fashion designer lit up LFW countless times with his creativity, but in 1997 he enjoyed his rare moment on the catwalk.

The beloved British designer wore a casual polo shirt and jeans — a contrast to his dramatic fashion creations — and danced down the runway at the end of his show to rapturous applause from his models and audience.

Coffee table dress by Hussein Shalayan (2000)

Hussein Chalayan is known for his experimental designs, but none have captured the global imagination quite like his coffee table dress.

As the models walked around the living room, one stood atop a coffee table that, in an eye-catching moment of industrial design, turned into a hooped wooden skirt when she lifted it.

Despite its theatrical nature, the show had a serious underlying message. Inspired by war refugees, the interplay between furniture and clothing resembled those forced to flee their homes carrying their worldly possessions on their backs.

The Prince Struts His Stuff (2007)

Image source, Getty Images

Singer Prince has made a career out of flamboyance — in his music and his fashion choices — so, in some ways, his surprise appearance at LFW makes perfect sense. Not that anyone expected that.

The star, who was in the capital to play the 02 Arena, sneaked unnoticed before Matthew Williamson's 2007 show – only to start singing from the front row, before jumping on stage to perform his Chelsea Rodgers track. According to The Telegraph, There was a method to his madness: The song was dedicated to his namesake's girlfriend at the time…a model who happened to be a fan of Williamson.

A fashion show, a concert, an emotive love letter – or a combination of all three? Either way, very princely.

London Fashion Week contributes £21 billion to the UK economy and employs more than 900,000 people, according to the latest industry report from the British Fashion Council.

Mintel figures show that women's clothing sales last year were estimated at £30.9 billion, while men's clothing sales were estimated at £15 billion.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak praised the sector this week for its contribution, reiterating its value to the UK economy. “It brings in huge sums of money to the treasury, and it has a global resonance in terms of creativity and reputation in this country,” he said. Evening standard.

He added: “It is an opportunity to reach new markets, to remind everyone of the power of Fashion Week and the power of the participating companies.”

but, McKinsey report on the state of fashion He warns of “strong economic headwinds” for the coming year, as fashion houses face “weak economic growth, persistent inflation and weak consumer confidence.”

Sunak frustrated fashion industry leaders by scrapping tax-free shopping while he was chancellor in 2021.

He kept politics as prime minister, Despite repeated calls From the British Fashion Council, the heads of many major fashion brands and retailers to bring back tax relief.

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