London Fashion Week: New home, new talent... and some old faces
London Fashion Week kicks off on February 17 for five days of shows at an unprecedented time of uncertainty for the fashion industry. Unsurprisingly, change is very much on the agenda.
The most obvious change is the new venue. The main event’s runway shows and presentations move to their permanent home at The Store Studios on The Strand, leaving Brewer Street Car Park far behind. Also new is the Topshop Show Space at Tate Modern Tanks, where major labels such as Mary Katrantzou and House of Holland will show.
But despite new venues, plus the continuing transition to co-ed and see-now-buy-now, there is a strong element of continuity most labels will stick to a single gender and see-now-buy-later approach.
LFW will see 51 shows and 32 presentations across its five days. And while it is a key event for the UK fashion sector in particular, it is not short of global appeal, a point underlined by the fact that exactly half of its designers were born outside of the UK.
One label with undeniable global appeal and arguably the hottest ticket on the LFW schedule is Burberry. In the vanguard of co-ed and instant-buy, it is back for a second season with the format after last season’s strong sales.
Burberry is a newsmaker, so what should we expect Monday evening? A collection perhaps less directional than a true seasonal collection would be, but one with a strong commercial storyline and a sculptural edge, influenced by its new collaboration with the Henry Moore Foundation.
Also of interest, for those focused on the evening/occasionwear markets, will be Roland Mouret, returning to London to mark his brand’s 20th anniversary on Sunday, the same day as another of LFW’s other stars, Preen by Thornton Bregazzi, shows its AW17 offer. In fact, Sunday is a day for big names with MM6 Maison Margiela likely to offer up a few surprises, and Johnny Coca showing his latest vision as he reinvents Mulberry.
Another one to watch is Chalayan’s LFW return. Hussein Chalayan was previously one of LFW’s biggest attractions and is likely to be an attention-grabber as the first show on Saturday. Other major names on Saturday include Julien Macdonald, showing a co-ed collection, Ports 1961 and star attraction JW Anderson.
Saturday evening will also see Versace’s Versus label hitting the runway. The latest in a run of strong collections should generate plenty of interest, especially as anything to do with Versace is news at the moment (rumour-chasers will be scouring the audience to see if Riccardo Tisci shows up).
London is an important source of new talent and the 120 designers showing in the expanded Designer Showrooms at The Store Studios will be continuing this tradition.
The runway will have its fair share of interesting new names too, notably Molly Goddard, who has emerged from the BFC’s NewGen initiative. A rising star, hers is one of the most hotly-anticipated collections of the whole week and means she will be under intense scrutiny in the Topshop show space on Saturday.
And Simone Rocha (winner of the BFC ’s British Womenswear Designer at The Fashion Awards), shows on Saturday evening, while International Woolmark Prize winner Teatum Jones will open the event on Friday with a standalone catwalk show. Meanwhile Sophia Webster (2016’s BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund winner) will show her elaborately detailed shoes and quirky bags at a presentation on Monday.
Also look out for Osman and Huishan Zhang, both showing on Monday, the Shrimps presentation on Monday, and Toogood's co-ed presentation on Tuesday.
THE CUSTOMER COUNTS
One key aspect of the event is the way consumers are being included. Outdoor screens in Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Newcastle will air show highlights and every on-schedule show will be live-streamed on the LFW website and Facebook.
See-now-buy-now collections also take LFW closer to the consumer, none more so than high street name Topshop with its Unique label and major marketing activity around fashion week. River island is another high street name getting involved. It sponsors the BFC Fashion Film event at the Serpentine on Friday where Margot Bowman and Mother of Pearl will showcase films.
And the consumer involvement extends after the main event ends. Consumers will be able to see Molly Goddard’s work in more detail at the Now Gallery at an interactive exhibition featuring her tulle creations, with visitors able to add their own embroidery to the dresses.
And on February 23, the event morphs into the London Fashion Week Festival, aiming to continue the buzz built around LFW, to engage consumers and to encourage them to spend. Look out for runway shows from Huishan Zhang, Mother of Pearl and Teatum Jones (for SS17 this time), fashion talks, trend presentations, and shopping for 150 UK and international brands.
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