The new stars of London Fashion Week
Simone Rocha and Thomas Tait were the talk of the town this London Fashion Week. At Simone’s show – which was on the official show schedule – huge crowds of people gathered outside, trying to get in. It was like the old days of London Fashion Week power hype, only those of us who were waiting for the show to start inside had no idea. In a fashion world where Balenciaga sets the example for show exclusivity (they invite like four people) such is the nature of an intimate show. Thomas Tait’s show was off-schedule, but thanks to a similar buzz and PR representation by the legendary Relative MO, who created designers such as Christopher Kane and Nicholas Kirkwood, Tait managed to lure key press members away from the on-schedule shows – Vivienne Westwood Red Label and Topshop Unique – and over to his.
It was only a handful of years ago that London Fashion Week finally planted itself on the international fashion map. Gareth Pugh, who now shows in Paris, was the show to get into and the international press would arrive just in time for it (and usually leave for Milan right after). Next to Pugh, a group of designers were slowly working their way up the fashion week ladder, gradually establishing businesses strong enough to make interesting clothes, which were also commercially viable. Erdem, Richard Nicoll and Jonathan Saunders headlined this group. Their shows weren’t quite a rock concert-y as Pugh’s, but they stood for a new era for London Fashion Week, which had a totally different and more formal, grown-up approach. Nowadays the all have big, money-making businesses.
On another end of the spectrum, designers such as Christopher Kane and Meadham Kirchhoff emerged, whose penchant for the subversive and the surprising re-created the LFW hype previously experienced with Pugh, but in a different, more grown-up fashion. Indeed, grown-up seems to have been the key word for the success of LFW. It wasn’t until the business plans arrived that the American press arrived as well. Suddenly the stars of LFW were real designers with huge studios and pre-collections and what not, and even the crazy bunch like House of Holland and Louise Gray followed troop, managing to maintain their flamboyance within these formal frames. These shows are now as important for setting the fashion agenda as Prada and Balenciaga. And the press attendance proves it. No one misses Christopher Kane.
The establishment of London Fashion Week as a big international week, attended by everyone from Anna Wintour to Franca Sozzani, by aforementioned designers (and a few more) has created a new LFW, where young designers experience a rather different hype than Pugh did back in the day. Club kids and fashion students would crash his show and the atmosphere would be electric. At Simone and Tait, there was a different kind of excitement. With no ‘kids’ in sight but only high-powered buyers and editors, it was the kind of excitement only grown-up formality can create. The LFW of the 2010s has us witnessing not just the designer stars of tomorrow, but the star fashion businesses of the future. And we actually did make it to Topshop Unique after Tait.