LONDON, United Kingdom — Today marks the start of London Fashion Week, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the British Fashion Council and heralding the return of big brands like Burberry and Pringle and star talents who had left the city to show elsewhere, like Jonathan Saunders and Matthew Williamson.
But the strength of London has always been its emerging designers, whose creativity is born out of the unrivaled energy, top fashion schools and international fabric that make up London's recipe for truly innovative fashion design. So, while it's great to have the big brands back, we are also looking forward to seeing what's in store from the newest crop of young designers.
The first place to look is Lulu Kennedy's Fashion East, which has an uncanny track record of picking out London's future fashion stars. This season's line up includes Heikki Salonen, who previously worked as Assistant Designer at Erdem, Central Saint Martins MA alumnus, Michael van der Ham, and Holly Fulton, who is showing for the second season under the Fashion East banner.
Fulton is excited about the coming season. “The intention is to continue the signature elements established within my first collection in order to consolidate my label. To create an association with the name which represents my design ethos,” she says.
Her key concept for Spring/Summer 2010 centres around the Eduardo Paolozzi image ‘Wittgenstein in New York’, “when I saw this picture, it perfectly encapsulated the ideas and imagery within my head. The use of vibrant colour, skyscrapers and an homage to Art Deco.”
“There is constantly such an exciting array of designers coming out of London and over the last couple of years, they have been at the forefront of innovative print design," says Thea Basiliou of Blonde Venus in Brisbane, Australia. "Designers like Mary Katrantzou and the amazing Peter Pilotto have been creating prints and designs that will always identify with fashion of our time.”
Katrantzou, who wowed the fashion flock with her Autumn/Winter 2009 collection of above-the-knee dresses with bold necklace motifs, delivered an aggressive feminine vision, steeped in modernity and graphic foreplay. Her collection was not for the faint of heart.
“I think print allows you to be bold. It's more daring,” Katrantzou affirms. “Because of the recession, every piece you invest in should either be a great timeless garment or make a strong statement. A print will do that for you, it's free spirited.” Katrantzou will show her new collection tomorrow, featuring prints inspired by "blown glass and the intensity of sound-waves.”
Print specialists Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos, who met whilst studying at Antwerp’s influential Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 2000, will open Tuesday's shows. “We like a modern wardrobe to be sort of timeless," they say. "It is the woman's spirit that attracts her to mix colour and prints.”
And finally, challenging notions of traditional knitwear has become the forte of designers like Louise Goldin, known for her short, body hugging knit dresses and swimwear, and most recently the Canadian designer Mark Fast.
“I believe that there is a growing attention to craftsmanship in fashion these days, as opposed to quick-fix disposable pieces. I am focusing on timeless classics,” says Fast.
And with that we look forward to what is shaping up to be the most promising London Fashion Week in years — for both the big brands and the up-and-coming talent — giving London a new creative and commercial edge that, with the right results, could place the city firmly back on the fashion map. Stay tuned.