Proven yet again, London remains a leading fashion capital incubating emerging talent and innovation. It is an environment with limited pretentiousness and a city generally more open-minded than its counterparts. London Fashion Week continues to inspire through healthy naiveté, acute humour and a bolt of eccentricity as demonstrated by my favourite accessory of the season: the washing up sponge heels by Christopher Kane!
Unlike New York which is regarded for its commercial appeal, the British capital is a global melting pot with a deeper focus on collaboration and elevating cultural differences with worthwhile results such as Erdem’s collection merging together British and Turkish cultures into dreamy brocade prints and sharp tailoring. It goes without saying, the success of London is primarily due to the British Fashion Council, and the world-class education system which boasts leading fashion institutions including Central Saint Martins, London College of Fashion and the Royal College of Art. Also, having a prime minister who thoroughly supports and understands this billion pound industry is also a plus (Theresa May is rumoured to appear on the April cover of US Vogue- Stay Tuned).
Due to the continued leadership of innovation champions including Dame Francis Corner, Caroline Rush, Sarah Mower, Caryn Franklin, Alexandra Shulman and Natalie Massenet, we see a fresh crop of designers and creative thinkers. Today the coming of age millennials are taking charge, constructing their own fashion ideals. Notable example is Micheal Halpern, the 29 year old Central Saint Martins MA graduate whose interpretation on disco studio 54 glamour is energising and just plain old FUN. His designs have already been worn by fashion editor Giovanna Engelbert at the Fashion Awards. Together with the now established “new kids on the block” including Molly Goddard, Phoebe English, Ryan Lo and Faustine Steinmetz the relevance of London in fashion is thankfully secured.
But like a looming grey cloud in the distance threatening to rain on everyone’s glittering parade is the ominous presence of BREXIT. Emilio de la Morena and Eudon Choi designers Daniel Fletcher and Dominic Jones have already expressed explicit concerns to the Business of Fashion, specifically the rise in prices and European talent leaving due to uncertainty. Many leading British labels import wool and silk from Italy and France, resulting in much higher costs thus hitting the bottom line. On the other hand, today’s weak pound is making Made in Britain more affordable (and attractive) for European and US retailers (and tourists) triggering greater sales. This however is the short term. What this means for the future of British fashion remains in limbo.
The greatest long term concern is discouraging future talent from entering the UK for study and starting up businesses. Can London then still be a melting pot of emerging ideas? What will happen to the future UK business success stories like the Mary Katranzous (Greek), Erdem Moralıoğlus (Canadian/Turkish), Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida (Portugese) Peter Pilottos (Half Austrian/ half Italian) and Christopher de Vos’ (half Belgian/half Peruvian)?
A direct response to this unknown future was sewn into the seams and clearly influenced the creative direction of many collections. Opposed to previous seasons, London AW17 showed an unwavering strength, a tour de force to be reckoned with, such as Simone Rocha who declared a Call to Arms! with velvet military-like uniforms. Or take Christopher Bailey’s exquisite Burberry Finale which showed models in ready to wear clothing suit up in couture armour. Couture armour Made in England with the finest possible quality and attention to detail imaginable.
London Fashion week a showcase of Britain’s Greatest hits, extending a hand to the international community with friendship, dependance, and togetherness.