London Fashion Week: Open, immersive and very populist
Expect a somewhat confusing scene in London Fashion Week this season, though much of that will represent a very welcome change.
The season’s organizers, the British Fashion Council (BFC) will for the first time invite in the general public to its main hub, The Store X, at 180 Strand. While several major catwalk shows, like Alexachung on Saturday 14 and House Of Holland or Self-Portrait on Sunday 15 will also include selected members of the public.
Historically, and doubly so since 9/11, entrance to shows in all the great cities has been by invitation only. The BFC say its goal is to make LFW “a cultural city-wide celebration that will introduce fashion to a wider pool of people.”
However, buyers, editors, influencers and the merely famous are all preparing for another disturbance – Extinction Rebellion. These activist environmentalists have announced that they plan to “close” London Fashion Week, and prevent guests attending the shows – though so far they have been short on specifics. However, back in April, Extinction Rebellion managed to camp all night on Waterloo Bridge and close down Parliament Square; as 290 people were arrested, 550,000 commuters were disrupted and 55 bus routes re-routed. So expect plenty of disorder.
It will certainly be a busy schedule with over 66 brands, 74 stores and 170 events all taking place between Friday 13 and Tuesday 17 September. Londoners and tourists should look out for #LFW in storefronts and window displays around town to identify the partners taking part in City-Wide Celebration - activations and curated events curated in partnership with key retailers, brands, partners and cultural institutions.
Ordinary mortals can also buy tickets to talks by Billy Porter, a Tony and Grammy Award winning entertainer and actor; Eva Chen, Instagram's director of fashion partnerships; Henry Holland, creative director of House of Holland; Laura Brown, InStyle USA editor in chief; Laura Weir, ES Magazine's editor in chief and Lindsay Peoples Wagner, Teen Vogue's editor in chief.
Or attend a plethora of immersive art installations, like solving the Postbox Maze, inspired by an M. C. Escher mural.
Major league brands in Paris in recent seasons have begun inviting their VISs–Very Important Shoppers–to attend shows, promising them “influencer-style experiences.” LFW is taking on a distinctly more populist bent.
Browns, the single most famous fashion boutique in the British Isles, will celebrate the launch of Peggy Gou’s new brand Kirin with an in-store appearance from the designer at the retailer's East London location, Browns East, 21 Club Row E2. One doesn’t need to be an editor to attend the event, which will include drinks, music and the chance to purchase an exclusive limited-edition shirt that can be customised by Peggy. Browns is also hosting a next generation showcase at its famed South Molton Street store, including designers such as Charles Jeffrey Loverboy and Paria Farzaneh.
Also in Mayfair, Britain’s biggest brand Burberry will launch its London Fashion Week breakfast at its all-day café Thomas’s, located in the flagship store on 121 Regent Street. While in a more populist vein, The Gap is celebrating all things indigo with a unique pop-up space on Soho’s Brewer Street, along with an Embroider Your Denim Workshop on Saturday.
Over at 5 Carlos Place, giant etailer Matchesfashion has recruited the East London restaurant, founded by David Waddington and Pablo Flack, to take host in the happening townhouse. While on the ground floor there’s a Moncler Genius x Richard Quinn installation. And the noted stylist Venetia Scott will unveil a personal retrospective entitled ‘Fragile Face Lay Flat Exhibition.'
Mulberry has invited craftspeople from Mulberry’s Somerset factory to display their skills in its Regent street flagship. River Island will offer a complimentary beauty station on Oxford Street. Finally, the much-loved May Fair Hotel near Green Park will celebrate its 11th anniversary as The Official Hotel of LFW with a residency by designer Osman Yousefzada, along with his artfully crafted cocktails in the May Fair Bar.
With all this activity, it could be hard to fit in the runway shows.
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