It seems to come around so quickly doesn’t it? You can guarantee as soon as you think there’s a hint of autumn in the air (sale rails disappearing, hot chocolate suddenly tempting), London Fashion Week will arrive reminding you Spring Summer 2016 is after all less than a year away. Getting ahead of yourself is precisely what you are required to do. Of course in two of the four major fashion cities of the world it is still warm enough for bare legs, so even if you do find the thought of a stomach warming pie n’ mash in front of an open fire popping into your head, it’s not difficult to banish it with a peak at what’s in store for your wardrobe next summer. In fact, it can be quite exciting if you discover the flares you invested in on a whim and a 20% off voucher earlier this year, will still be the business come next May – well done you for taking a punt. This means you have a good eight months to pluck up the courage to wear them and to talk the doubters around. Not so much if the flares turn out, as you feared, to make your arse look like you’re seeing it in the back of a spoon.
London Fashion Week is where ideas are born, where risks are taken and careers made. I reported on the shows for two consecutive seasons and I have never worked harder or been so inspired in my life. And if the crazy, non-stop racing around town, jostling to get into shows and inevitable lateness doesn’t put you off fashion week forever, it will leave you feeling very proud to be a Londoner.
I Love LFW and here’s why:
1. The shows are held in amazing venues from Somerset House and the Natural History Museum to Holland Park or the top of a derelict office block in Fulham, you never quite know where you’ll find yourself next.
2. The old stalwarts of British fashion who have never abandoned London for Paris or New York. Paul Smith, Jasper Conran and Betty Jackson to name but a few, appear alongside the young new talent amongst whom at least one will be snapped up by one of the leading high street brands so we can all buy a piece of their creativity. Jonathan Saunders, Roksanda Illinich and Preen can all be found in Debenhams and you can’t argue with that.
3. Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Stella Tenant and Jodie Kidd all made their names walking the London catwalks and every now and then they reappear to sprinkle stardust over whichever collection they are modelling. It’s only when you watch an old school ‘Super’ model that you realise they are head and shoulders (sometimes literally) above all the others. When I witnessed Naomi Campbell on the runway in the flesh I had an “Ahhh right, I see” moment. There is a very good reason she gets away with chucking ‘phones at people where us mere short legged mortals wouldn’t.
4. The London front row is not nearly as terrifying as in New York, Paris and Milan. This is mostly because the guest list isn’t as select, but also because there is always an air of complete disorganisation and chaos. When I found myself seated next to Vogue editor Alexandra Schulman on the front row due to simply being in the right place at the right time, she was largely unimpressed by my presence. I kept my eyes front and tried really hard not to rifle through the goody bag I wasn’t really entitled to.
5. London is the flagship home of Top Shop, Miss Selfridge, River Island, Thomas Pink, Jigsaw, Whistles, Reiss, Karen Millen, Warehouse, Oasis, Coast, Next, New Look and Kurt Geiger. We have the best high street in the world bar none, how lucky are we? Top Shop, H&M and Whistles now show at LFW alongside the high end brands which is every bit as thrilling in my mind.
6. Here in London we don’t have a uniform, (we’re far too experimental for that) like the other major fashion cities but it is accepted, mostly due to our inclement weather, that there are some pieces you simply can’t live without. And that is why we are just so good at coats, knitwear and boots. You wouldn’t come to London with the idea of finding the perfect bikini or the latest flip flops, but a classic trench or piece of cashmere? Ta-daa!
7. New York Fashion Week is slick and always glamorous; the week that follows in London couldn’t be more different. In London, you expect the unexpected. This year both John Galliano for Maison Margiela and veteran designer Zandra Rhodes made a return to the London shows after a considerable absence. And if that wasn’t exciting enough, the new headquarters for Fashion Week is the Brewer Street car park in the heart of Soho. Now you wouldn’t see that happen in Paris – do they even have car parks in Paris?
London is where the beating heart of fashion is, where fashion is above all, fun. It may be a business, and a very lucrative one at that, but it doesn’t hurt to forget that clothes make people feel good. Now while we’re talking about fun and feeling good, I’ll just leave you with the thought that London Fashion Week’s strongest message was pie crust collars, ruffles and erm, leg o’ lamb sleeves. Yeup, puffed sleeves are on their way back. That’ll teach you to moan about wanting dresses with sleeves now won’t it?