Wednesday 16 September 2009

London Fashion Week celebrates 25 years

LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM - Vivienne Westwood, John Galliano, Alexander McQueen -- just a British designers who have rewritten fashion's rulebook over the last half century. All of them had their start in London and this year marks the 25th anniversary of the capital's fashion week.
This year to mark the big anniversary, the British Fashion Council has asked back some of its most successful designers: Burberry, Pringle, Jonathan Saunders, and Victoria Beckham favourite Antonio Berardi are amongst those who answered the call. To add to that, a slew of A-list celebrities are expected in the front rows and American Vogue editor Anna Wintour and her Editor-at-Large Andre Leon Talley are also expected to make an appearance.

What started out as a small gathering of dedicated fashion designers and trend makers in a car park in west London has grown into a 20 million (GB) pound (28 million USD) event, which takes place twice a year, into the British capital's economy. In terms of direct spend, it generates orders in the region of 100 million GBP (143.3 million USD).

Looking back to the first catwalk in October 1984, the designs may not look very different today. The current love of everything Eighties was seemingly big on the catwalks last season.

The buyers in 1984 seemed as enthusiastic for the young, cutting-edge designs still prominent in 2009.

"Great, terrific, absolutely delighted with what I've seen so far," said one buyer.

"After everything I saw in Milan and New York, I found this the most exciting so far," said another.

A female U.S. buyer said: "The only feeling of seriously new fashion seems to be coming from here."

Betty Jackson was amongst the handful of designers which showcased that first London Fashion Week.

"It was really sort of rough and ready but, you sort of had to sort everything out I mean Katherine Hamnett I remembered complained bitterly that we were showing in a car park and she was right but there wasn't any where else," she told Reuters Television.

Renown for creating a platform where young designers can come from graduate school to the international fashion stage in an instant, London has produced daring, edgy, and in-your-face designs which captures the spirit of youth and rebellion.

Matthew Williamson was one of them. Although he started in the British capital and currently shows in New York, he said he wants to permanently bring his shows back to London.

"Well, it's my home land so its my favourite city to show in and I hope to show back here one day, I show in New York now so maybe one day I'll come back and show here, I love it here," said the designer.

Paul Smith is the most successful British designer with an annual turnover of 330 million (GB) pounds (470 million USD). His personal fortune is worth an estimated 180 million GBP (258 million USD).

"I think the great thing about 25 years of fashion week is that were still here, were still positive, were still important, we have still as I said earlier we have still got this massive creativity, coming out of london. Yes its sad sometimes that the designers cant survive in there own light and have there own businesses, and work at it, but you know its just the fact that we create them and that they maybe go and work for a company from a different country, it's still fine," he said.

London Fashion Week will be moving to a new venue, Somerset House, from its home over the past few years the Natural History in west London.

The event kicks off on Friday (September 18).

Source - REUTERS

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