A guide to London Fashion Week: a very British Phenomenon

Morwenna Jones 12 September 2014

New York saw peep-toe fringed gladiator sandals, hippy-inspired dresses worn, military jackets and delicately tailored maxi-skirts and summer frocks all make their way down the catwalks in the American fashion capital.  Highlights included the razor-sharp tailoring of Victoria Beckham’s retro floral-print suits and now, the fashion industry is turning its mascara-laden gaze to the designer’s native United Kingdom with the launch of London Fashion Week today

A selection of the Burberry pre-season collection. Image credit: www.londonfashionweek.co.uk

Known for launching the careers of designers such as Gareth Pugh and Mary Katrantzou, not to mention the iconic late Alexander McQueen, London’s revered runways can be expected, once again, to showcase the very best of emerging British talent. Venues such as Freemasons’ Hall in Covent Garden and online pop-up shops like the BFC Contemporary Shop on eBay, will host the collections of London’s rising fashion stars while more exclusive, invite-only locations will see household names Burberry, Tom Ford and Vivienne Westwood cement their marks on fashion history.

Monday in particular will be the day to discover next season’s trends as not one, not two, not three but no less than four iconic designers send their collections down the catwalk.  Mulberry are the first big name show of the day and, following the launch of the latest ‘Cara’ handbag, are expected to have model of the moment, Cara Delevingne fronting the show.  They are followed by Burberry, also likely to feature Ms Delevingne after casting her in their latest perfume campaign before GILES (as in Deacon) and TOM FORD bring the day to a close.  While the latter’s collection remains a closely guarded secret, the GILES pre-collection hints that we can expect fluid, painterly floral and contrasting bold, block colour prints on sharply tailored pieces while Burberry look to be continuing with the muted palette of pastels, browns and shades of white and simple silhouettes they do best.

However, don’t be fooled into thinking that its big fashion houses whose collections are set to define London Fashion Week.  As well as the international companies mentioned above, Monday also sees increasingly popular celebrity favourite Roksanda reveal her new collection for the first time.  Her collections from previous years suggest that loud colours, block print loosely fitted items and bold lines and shapes will feature heavily, as will even more of the neoprene midi-length skirts and dresses that caught our eye this time last year.  The Serbian-born designer, whose fans include the Duchess of Cambridge, will be showing in London for the eleventh year in a row and, as such, is a relatively established name among front-row guest lists.

Last year ROKSANDA showcased iconic neoprene midi-length skirts
Image credit: www.londonfashionweek.co.uk

Shrimps, Sibling and Fyodor Golan, on the other hand, are not. All three designers will be showcasing their collections over the first two days and fashion-week first-timer Shrimps, the faux-fur fashion label founded by Hannah Weiland, is the day’s hot ticket.  The world’s fashionistas are all eager to see how Miss Weiland is going to follow up her Autumn Winter collection of striped faux-fur coats in eye-popping candy colours, proving that while more classic designs are showcased by brands like JOSEPH and Daks, London Fashion Week is still eccentric at its heart. That same quirkiness that inspired designers such as Vivienne Westwood, John Galliano and Alexander McQueen is also shared by Sid Bryan, Joe Bates and Cozette McCreery. The trio are the brains behind SIBLING and are single-handedly responsible for making crochet cool again, taking it away from its ditsy, grannyish roots and into the sexy pencil skirts of their most recent collection. Whether Spring/ Summer 2015 will see their signature knit take on a new summer theme is unknown, but one thing is certain; there will be colours so bright that you’ll need your front-row paparazzi-protection sunglasses. The same can be said for Fyodor Golan’s latest collection, recently previewed by Vogue, in which oranges, pinks, blues and whites all combine in striped modern dresses that combine the classicism of the Breton with the innovation of modern technology.

It’s a combination that speaks volumes about the ethos of this small island’s contribution to fashion. It’s Alexander McQueen stitching razor-clam shells to a dress, Vivienne Westwood bringing 17th century tailoring back into fashion and Thomas Burberry creating the gabardine waterproof fabric and using it in his signature traditional outdoor wear. In short, it’s what Britain does best and hopefully we can look forward to seeing the traditional and contemporary blend together today as London Fashion Week hosts the best of the old and the most promising of the new