Designer resilience shines through a sombre London Fashion Week

“There has been a great sensitivity around the backdrop of the shows and presentations and many nods to Her Majesty the Queen — from a minute’s silence to head scarfs to veils to Steven Stokey-Daley who had the vigil at the beginning of the show,” says BFC chief executive Caroline Rush. “There have been so many moments to reflect on the Queen, but equally, I think it’s so important that business continues; and it’s fantastic to see the support of the international media and retailers.”

The show must go on

In the days preceding LFW, there was some debate about whether it should go ahead given the period of national mourning. However, many emerging designers pointed out the devastating impact it would have on them financially to cancel at such short notice. Still, there was some anxiety about whether international press and buyers would make it to the shows — particularly those rearranged to Tuesday, 20 September.

Some buyers and international media who were originally going to fly in for Burberry may not have attended, the BFC’s Rush acknowledges. However, support for British designers remains strong. “I’ve spoken to quite a lot of international buyers that were here who reaffirmed their support for London, for our designers,” Rush notes. “We have seen some buyers that left on Sunday evening, but there were also many buyers that were due to leave on Monday evening who, in support of the British designers, moved their flights to either [Tuesday] evening or [Wednesday] morning.”

London brand 16Arlington showed for the second time this season under co-founder Marco Capaldo, whose partner and co-founder Kikka Cavenati died in November last year. High-profile models including Alva Claire and Paloma Elsesser walked the show and the brand’s signature sparkles and feathers were updated with silky tailoring and vinyl snakeskin. “I had a lot of faith in London’s way of looking at things super optimistically, it felt like ‘whatever will be will be’,” the designer said in an interview.

Pushing ahead helped brands avoid setbacks, and many spoke to the importance of shows to their businesses. “Fashion week is primarily a business event, one that is part of a global fashion calendar planned a year in advance and impossible to change at the last moment ,” says designer Rejina Pyo. “Directly after our fashion show takes place we move into sales, which are directly impacted by the show and the press that goes with it. So, it is vital that fashion week continues and is supported by the press , especially after the incredibly difficult few years the industry has been through.”


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