London Fashion Week: New Trends For A New Decade:

Legs: In London at the moment they seem to be the ultimate female style statement.  They’re everywhere – on the bus, underground, or just walking around. You can’t avoid them. Even on the coldest of days, their owners insist on the skimpiest of outfits: Calf-length boots, leggings or tights – usually black, but occasionally in bold shades of red, purple or blue – and skirts which have only a very distant acquaintance with their knees. To complete the overall effect, their coats and jackets are worn down to just beyond the waistline but not much further. This current ‘look’ was very much in evidence  – both on and off the cat-walk – at the London Fashion Week (19th – 24th February), a bi-annual occasion ( the other is in September) where ‘the beautiful people’ gather together both to see and be seen. When they were milling around with their champagne glasses before shows, it was often virtually impossible to distinguish between the guests, trade representatives, designers ,magazine editors  and fashion house proprietors.

The organisers were the British Fashion Council (BFC), which was set up in 1983 to promote the industry by means of exhibitions and showcasing events such as the LFW. They estimate that the London Fashion Week earns the capital an extra £30 million p.a.  and that the value of orders placed last season was around £100 million. Their figures also indicate that the British clothing and textile industries  between them produce £8.6 billion worth of goods. The ONS (Office Of National Statistics) has forecast that the PBR ( annual government borrowing) for 2009/10 will reach £178 billion or 12.6% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and has also reported that Britain’s manufacturing output in 2009 was 5.4% less than in the previous year. It would  thus appear that it is mainly the fashion, tourism, service, and entertainment  sectors which are keeping the nation’s economy afloat.  According to BFC data, the world- wide media coverage of LFW is worth £50 million, UK consumers spent £46 billion in 2008 on clothing & footwear and fashion retail is the country’s second largest employer . It also identifies the USA, Japan, Russia, France, Italy, the Middle East, Hong Kong and China as the main export markets for British fashion products.

The overseas interest was certainly evident from the large numbers of  foreign journalists, photographers, TV and radio crews present. They were there to report especially on the displays of collections by designers such as Mulberry, Louise Gray and Clements Ribeiro and on the most high-profile of the 68 catwalk shows. These took place in the BFC Tent at Somerset House WC2 and at other venues around London such as Aquascutum (Regent Street), The Royal Opera House and Claridges Hotel. Among the most notable were Burberry (military & aviator jackets|), Erdem (holographic florals), Peter Pilotto ( tweeds, knits & metallic fabrics) and Mark Fast (thin knitted dresses with laddered sleeves embellished with square crystals), who caused a stir by using a size 16 model. Over at the Battersea Arts Centre,’Untold,’ which aims at providing “ an innovative and creative platform for emerging designers,” focussed on occasion-wear with a colourful, contemporary and ethnic edge, as well as casual shirts open at the chest for the men. The tradition of holding evening  ‘after-show’ parties in exclusive locations around central London (‘10 Corso Como’ combined theirs with the launch of their back & white range for Liberty’s) was continued despite the subdued atmosphere at the official opening. There was a minute’s silence in memory of British designer Alexander McQueen and hundreds of condolence messages were posted up on one wall of the BFC Tent. Since then , the French fashion group PPR have confirmed that the McQueen trademark will survive, despite having accumulated debts of £32 million.

Meanwhile, on four floors of the main Somerset House building, 200 UK and international designers ( among them. Monsoon, the London College of Fashion, Rocio & Thomas Hartley) were exhibiting their jewellery, ready-to-wear items , shoes, bags and lingerie. In an event such as London Fashion Week, the models – unless they are celebrities such as Naomi Campbell or Kate Moss – inevitably remain largely anonymous. Their role is to convey to the spectators the designer’s creative achievements, instincts and aspirations. However, they could perhaps fulfil this function more effectively if they at least appeared to be enjoying themselves rather than wishing they were elsewhere. Their facial expressions are invariably serious, gloomy, and at times even downcast. Recommendation to ambitious designers: Instruct your models to smile. It could cause a sensation.






Filed under: Society | Posted on March 2nd, 2010 by Colin D Gordon

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