The opening honours are traditionally performed by a celebrity blonde who woos the audience with louche charm and giggly anecdotes, but Boris Johnson was nowhere to be seen as the lights went up on the Somerset House catwalks.
Instead, ribbon cutting duties fell to Sir Philip Green, whose deep pockets bankroll a sizeable number of the more fanciful shows that take place on the London catwalks, and who therefore presides over the week in the manner of a gruff sugar daddy.
The presence of both Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary, and Ed Vaizey, the minister for culture and the creative industries, reflects how successful the British Fashion Council has been in getting the coalition on board with the message that fashion, being an arena in which Britain still leads the world, is an industry worth shouting about.
A website launch, sold out shops in New York, a day in the life of Vogue and the beginning of London fashion week spring 2012.
Rave reviews for London’s designers in the global fashion press have become standard.
London is known as a cutting edge city that nurtures and develops young designers, and buyers are scouting for new talent.
London fashion week’s new goal is to turn critical success into commercial expansion.
Lets face it, says Downing, We all know what a beating Fashion Week can be on the feet.
“The catwalks are fantastic. Now, we need to look at manufacturing, and creating real businesses,” said Green.
The fashion industry accounts for 1.7% of UK GDP – twice as much as publishing, car manufacturing or the chemical industry – and supports 816,000 jobs.
There are encouraging signs that on a small scale, British manufacturing is on an upswing.
“China is getting more expensive, time to market is ever more important for retailers. This means there is now the opportunity to make clothes in the United Kingdom, and to remain competitive,” said Green.
Vaizey pointed to reports by retailers including John Lewis and Topman that “the ‘made in Britain’ brand is a powerful one that customers value, particularly in menswear”.
Last year Mulberry received £2.5m from the regional growth fund to build a handbag making factory in Somerset which will create 250 skilled jobs.
“That kind of money has traditionally gone to car factories, and those kinds of industries,” said Vaizey.
“The fact that Mulberry can access that money is a reflection of the fact that the government acknowledges the role of fashion in our economy.”.
Her return to London has been hailed as a sign that British fashion is on the up.
“In Italy, when you speak to men in suits they understand fashion, because it employs lots of men like them. They have friends who are employed in the fashion business, and that alters the way they see it. Apprenticeship schemes are an important next step for Britain. We’ve got all these kids who can’t afford to go to university – let’s get them into business.”.
London Fashion Week kicked off with a splash of color Friday shown by British designers Antoni & Alison, the first of dozens of catwalk shows jammed into the next six days.
“We need as much focus on the next generation of production talent as there has been on new design talent. our goal is to see if we can achieve in manufacturing and business what we have achieved in design and retail,” Green said.
London Fashion Week has landed and over the next few days we’ll all be expected to drop EVERYTHING, and pick up some autumn/winter 2102 trends instead.
St Tropez’s Nichola Joss is going to be backstage at Erdem and Roksanda Illlic during London Fashion Week armed with an array of St Tropez tanning lotions.
The halo effect of this year’s Jubilee and Olympic celebrations has lured star designers away from New York, Milan and Paris: Stella McCartney will show a collection of evening wear at a show in Mayfair on Saturday evening, Victoria Beckham is celebrating the arrival in store of her Victoria collection, and Sarah Burton will show her first collection in London when the McQ diffusion line takes to the catwalk on Monday.
McCartney, who has shown her smart, minimalist collections at Paris Fashion Week for a decade, is moving her catwalk to London for a special presentation on Saturday Feb.
Early trends to emerge from the London catwalk were gold lame, which was used for a black tie worthy pyjama suit at Caroline Charles, and for the Harlow catsuit at Maria Grachvogel’s 1930s themed show.
There was a tongue in cheek take on Jubilee chic at a strong show by Emilia Wickstead, a New Zealand born designer based in London who has become a favourite of Samantha Cameron: a cocktail dress was printed with had a toile de jouy pattern featuring views of Windsor Castle.
Caroline Charles’s catwalk show marked her 50th year as a London fashion designer.
Asked how she had kept going so long in an industry famed for burnout, she said “it doesn’t feel like 50 years. we don’t think about the past, we think about next season. And how could we ever stop?”.
Voices from London fashion weekCatherine Fuller, 27, StylistI’re here for the Corrie Nielsen show this morning.
We’re here for the Corrie Nielsen show this morning.
Zoe Whitfield, 22, fashion assistantI’ve come to cover a few shows today for Clash Magazine.
We threw whatever we had on today so we’re wearing an M&S boys coat, our Dad’s Gap shirt, our jeans are by Topshop and our shoes are by Urban Outfitters.
Our skirt is by American Apparel, our jacket is Versace for H&M, our shoes are Jeffrey Campbell and our bag is from Primark.
Leonard Arceo, 21, fashion studentMy look today is a modern gentleman but with elegance.
Our coat is by Zara, our shirt is Asos, our jeans are Cheap Monday and our shoes are by Prada.
Nancy Stannard, 51, couture consultantI am here as an assistant for Suzie Turner couture.
Anna Street is a fashion journalist based in London, UK. Anna has a passion for fashion stories and loves writing about fashion news and fashion opinions that matters most to its audience. Anna spends a lot of time discovering and researching latest fashion industry news stories in order to make sure the latest and greatest stories are brought to you first on Stylerchic.com.