...autumn winter 2010

by Sophie Hay
It’s nearly that time of year again – the time when the globe's fashion elite flock to London for a week dedicated to pushing the boundaries of style and embracing Britain’s newest design talent. London Fashion Week A/W2010 is fast approaching, and after last season's spectacular 25th anniversary celebrations, the upcoming one has a lot to live up to. Starting this Friday 19th February, the shows will unravel and the international fashion focus will be on Londontown yet again. What can we expect?

Back in 1984, and whilst the masses were modelling themselves off Madonna or Morrissey, Annette Worsley-Taylor took it upon herself to create an outlet for design talent based in London, initially using white tents outside the Commonwealth Institute in Kensington. The young London designer boom "was hitting its zenith and they needed somewhere to show that wasn’t alongside the likes of Chanel and Dior – they were different; more edgy, raw and experimental. London Fashion Week was born and the rest, as they say, was history. Despite the decided lack of glamour, the debut Fashion Week played host to a number of extremely talented young designers and in particular one young British Gibraltarians degree collection caught the eye of editors and agencies around the world. John Galliano, with his nods to Napoleon in his debut collection, was the first in a long line of designers to come out of London Fashion Week which has helped establish the event as one of the most important in the fashion calendar. Since then London Fashion Week has played host to and propelled to stardom, designers such as Alexander McQueen, Luella, Stella McCartney and Jasper Conran, and more recently Henry Holland and Louise Goldin.

Despite being known as the “cheaper fashion week” and the “quirky” one, London Fashion Weeks ability to demonstrate quintessential British style and creativity is what has kept it as a forerunner in the global fashion weeks. The make-shift nature of the first Fashion Week and the ability to make use of any space available is still present today. With shows being presented in warehouses and chapels as well as the decadent Somerset House, the rebellious undertones that British fashion is loved for have not been lost.

2009 brought with it the 25th Anniversary of London Fashion Week, a milestone birthday with a number of great presents to suit and a new location. British brands who have swapped the low-key London for the catwalks of New York and Paris flocking back, and Mrs. Wintour – braving London after a two year hiatus. The pull of the lights did cause many of designers to desert London in search of bigger things, but the fact that quintessentially British brands like Burberry are returning is a good thing – we have raised the stakes and now to show in London is a statement in itself.

To show here is to show you are in touch with the looks of the street, and you are willing to re-work classics for the new generation – you are willing to take risks and London is the place to do it. Just look at Giles Deacon with his Pac Man inspired helmets and slightly phallic-inspired black coat/dress – what might be shunned in Paris is embraced and celebrated in London. We are forgiving and like our fashion to have a personality and be a talking point, as well as being beautiful. Our fashion speaks - like Vivienne Westwood’s slogan tees stating “I am not a terrorist, please don’t arrest me” or House of Holland’s “Do me in the park, Marc” slogan. London Fashion is an outlet, not just for creativity but for opinion.

There is a certain “je nais se quoi” as the French would say (or as we would say: “I dunno”) about British fashion that so perfectly reflects the British spirit. With London’s new designers this Britishness is coming through more than ever – and it seems the world likes it better and better for every LFW past. This year has all the prerequisites for following suit; look out for Louise Goldin who has just won two years sponsorship to continue showing from the British Fashion Council and David Koma who everyone will now be watching thanks to stars such as Beyoncé and Cheryl Cole. A beautiful and emotional farewell is also most likely to be taken with the design legend that was Alexander McQueen. The British fashion world honours and celebrates its icons, and the loss of a designer of such extraordinary talent and influence is most unlikely to go unnoticed.

There is in other words little doubt that this February will be as magnificent as the last and with the big focus on bloggers this season no doubt we will be able to get front row coverage from 15 year olds at the click of a mouse. Fashion is evolving, and London, with its British “oomph”, is the forerunner in the new generation – and indeed this new decade – of fashion.