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‘All right, everyone. Gird your loins!’

OLIVIA PETTER

It’s the time of year that models, buyers, editors and designers spend months preparing for: London Fashion Week. Much like the industry itself, the bi-annual event is steeped in stereotypes and caricatures, most of which are based on pop culture and its devilish portrayals which continue to plague fashion folk everywhere, one cerulean sweater at a time. But fashion week is about much more than copious amounts of coffee and steely-faced editors with bob haircuts. Following in the footsteps of New York’s counterpart, London Fashion Week is defined by its dynamic dichotomy between the emerging talents (Matty Bovan, Halpern, Richard Quinn) and the establishment (Burberry, Roksanda, Erdem). Read on for everything you need to know about London Fashion Week and wise-up before the chaos begins so you don’t have to bore someone else with your questions.  

What is it?

London Fashion Week is a trade event organised by the British Fashion Council (BFC). It happens twice a year: once in February, when autumn/winter collections are shown, and once in September, for the spring/summer collections. Traditionally, the aim has been to give designers the opportunity to showcase their new collections ahead of when they will be available for purchase. This allows buyers and editors to see what brands have planned for next season and identify the key trends and pieces which influences which clothes we see in shops, on websites and in magazines. New York Fashion Week 2018: Best street style. However, some brands – such as Burberry – are breaking the mould by experimenting with a runway-to-retail business model. This enables shoppers to make purchases from the new collections immediately after the fashion shows have finished in a bid to capitalise on the buzz before it fades.

Photo: @temperleylondon/Instagram

When is it?

London is the second fashion week in a series of four, preceded by New York and followed by Milan and Paris. Events start on Thursday 13 September, but the shows themselves – which usually last no more than 10 minutes but almost always run late – begin on Friday and will continue over the weekend, concluding on Tuesday 18 September.    

Where does it happen?

The majority of shows take place across the capital, with high-end brands often choosing palatial settings to correspond with their sartorial visions. A small number of fashion shows will be set in the BFC’s show space, the location of which varies from season-to-season. This time, it’s at The Store X at 180 Strand, which is also where it was in February.    

Can I get tickets?

London Fashion Week is an invite-only event, meaning that it’s closed off to the public. However, London Fashion Week Festival, which takes place the weekend after the main event, is a ticketed event that gives fashion fans the opportunity to attend catwalk shows and panel talks hosted by industry experts. This year, prolific names on the line-up include iconic T-shirt designer Katharine Hamnett, model and body positive ambassador Charli Howard and fashion influencer Millie Mackintosh.    

Who is invited?

Buyers, editors and trend forecasters will make up most of the audience at shows during London Fashion Week, as these are the people whose job it is to know what designers have planned for next season. A small number of celebrities (models, musicians and actors) will also be invited to certain shows as their presence boosts publicity for the brands. However, their invitations won’t be random – normally the famous faces in attendance have some kind of relationship with the designer whose show they are attending.    

Who are the designers to watch?

London Fashion Week is all about the amalgamation between heritage brands and fresh talent. While established brands such as Erdem, Christopher Kane and Roksanda are perennial highlights on the schedule, this season all eyes are on Burberry, which will finally reveal its new image under the reins of artistic director Riccardo Tisci, who took over from Christopher Bailey in March. This season also marks a first for Victoria Beckham, who will celebrate the 10th anniversary of her eponymous label with a catwalk show in London, having historically presented her collections in New York. Meanwhile, on the emerging designer end of the spectrum, Alexa Chung will also make her London Fashion Week debut with the millennial-friendly eponymous label she launched in May 2017. Party girls assemble for Temperley London, whose divine sequin-soaked drapery is a firm favourite on the red carpet. In terms of young talents to watch, look out for Matty Bovan’s dystopian aesthetic, Halpern’s disco-ready designs and Richard Quinn, who famously had Queen Elizabeth II in his front row last season.

Photo: @babbym/Instagram

Why does it matter?

While it’s easy to get seduced into thinking that London Fashion Week is more pomp than practicality – it sets the precedent for an industry worth £202 million per annum – fashion simply couldn’t function without it. While the industry has its problems regarding sustainability and diversity, fashion week itself is a brilliant celebration of artistic talent, influencing more than just the way we shop, but the way we choose to present ourselves to the world via our clothing. If you fail to see past the hackneyed portrayals, you might as well just climb into bed and ask Miranda Priestly for a bedtime story.     Source: Independent    

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