The importance of London Fashion Week
The very fact that London is one of four iconic cities associated with the bi-annual Fashion Week extravaganza speaks for the calibre in which it stands. Her sister cities, the other fashion giants, are New York, Milan and, of course, Paris. That is not to say that other Fashion Weeks aren’t vital to the global fashion community, but let’s face it, the ones that the big designers “show” at, where the A-listers show up and the wannabes show off, are the ones listed above. So what makes the London fashion scene so special?
At the heart of fashion week is a stylishly projected two-fold ideal: the celebration of British heritage (and where better to do so than the Capital?) and the promotion of new British talent that is so valued for pushing the envelope and widening our understanding and appreciation of art in motion: fashion. It was, after all, where Lee Alexander became Alexander McQueen.
Behind London Fashion Week is the British Fashion Council, who are not only responsible for engaging a British and international audience through the showcasing of British fashion talent, but they do so with a view to “developing excellence and growth in a sector that is a significant contributor to the British economy”. There is something unique about fashion in London, a quality that is often as well represented by the brands as it is by the individuals within it.
It may seem unusual to mention the astonishing phenomenon that is street style. It is no longer enough to view what the experts project; now it is, arguably, just as intriguing and indeed entertaining to see what “the people” are wearing. The platform that makes this possible is London Fashion Week. Sure, the adoration of street chic began, almost randomly, in the 1970s and yet, without Fashion Week, how long would it have taken for this form of freedom of expression to be applauded on an international scale?
Street style has also helped shape Europe’s perception of the Brits as a stylish bunch. The New Yorkers have that laid back essence: the kind that seamlessly combines “preppy” with effortless. The Milanese have a much admired Italian tailoring and the Parisians are known for their unceasingly cool, elegant ensembles. What the Londoners bring to the table is quintessential British quirk, with a panache and individuality that cannot be faked.
What is most exciting about London Fashion Week, however, is each season’s onslaught of young British talent. This talent is nurtured; from the university stage (Central Saint Martins, for example, are the only university that are invited to produce a show during this season’s event), to those meticulously placed first steps as fledging designers – see the BFC/VOGUE Design Fashion Fund. Through education, business innovation and investment, the talents that show (and continue to show) at London Fashion Week do so with the support of an industry that actively seeks to promote and maintain them. That is what makes London Fashion Week truly special.
Patricia Yaker Ekall