Poor London. Despite being seen as a breeding ground for talent, London’s fashion week is the smallest, both in length and, it seems, power, compared with its bookends in New York, Milan and Paris. As London is only five days and features fewer established designers than its competitors, a lot of press only attends one or two days en route to Milan or skips London altogether. And now, according to the Telegraph, London Fashion Week is “in chaos,” with models literally being pulled from shows at the last minute because of powerhouses in other cities, like Marc Jacobs and Gucci. London designers and modeling agencies are not pleased.
So what does this mean for the fate of London Fashion Week?
This season, problems began when Marc Jacobs rescheduled his show, which is arguably NYFW’s most important, from Monday to late Thursday night, preventing models from getting to London in time for Friday shows. Then, once the models had finally gottten to London, Gucci’s Frida Giannini decided she wanted to hold a pre-casting for her Wednesday show, meaning models would need to get to Milan as early as Saturday. Carole White, the founder of London-based model agency Premier Model Management told the Telegraph, "Only a tiny fraction of them realistically have a shot at being in that show - we all know it will be full of mega girls. I find it insulting that a designer like Frida thinks London is so insignificant that she would do that.” At least two shows--PPQ and Todd Lynn--had to be almost entirely recast.
While we doubt Marc Jacobs and Frida Giannini are on personal missions to destroy London Fashion Week, it’s easy to understand why London modeling agencies might view what they’re doing as “bullying tactics”--most London designers don’t have the resources to compete with them--and want the British Fashion Council to intervene. If they don’t, LFW could be an even bigger disaster next season, with modeling agencies threatening to boycott.
And at a certain point, it may not be worth it for models to go to London at all if they're being pulled in other, perhaps more profitable directions. And that could incite designers to show elsewhere.
It’s the same sort of scheduling problem that’s happening within New York (which we wrote about), but on an international scale: labels with more power and larger paychecks stealing the best models and styling teams away from everyone else because the schedule is too packed. Like that situation, this one doesn’t have an easy answer.
Any suggestions for how to end the model crisis?