Milan and New York spent weeks arguing about the scheduling for fashion month come next September, and we subsequently spent weeks trying to follow along with all the arguments and compromises. While Milan and Paris ultimately “won” the day, and New York scheduled its week around the European weeks accordingly, London was sort of in the middle of the scuffle, getting squeezed time-wise and ignored in general.
London has only recently become respected as a fashion city, and they’ve produced some world-class designers and labels like Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, and Gareth Pugh, who all subsequently left to show in Paris. Up-and-comers like Christopher Kane and Erdem are making international fashion news, but will they stay? How do London designers feel about being treated like fashion’s poor relation?
If you think they’re crawling under a rock in shame, you’d be wrong. There is a lot of solidarity in London right now, which has only been bolstered by the strong collections that are coming out of the city. Alex Box, the UK-based makeup artist and founder of Illamasqua summed it up best: “The more you push down, the more people will push back. There’s a backlash. [Designers] want to stay.”
“I think Milan and Paris are both far too greedy,” Hilary Alexander, the former fashion director at the Telegraph, told us. “Ultimately talent and creativity is the thing that will win the day.” And we saw plenty of creativity last week, like at the Sister by Sibling presentation.
When asked if she thought London mattered, Cozette McCreary, one of the designers of the Sister by Sibling label, said after their buzzy presentation, “Hopefully we’ve just proved it! London is really important.”
What makes London unique, and ultimately important, is its reputation as a friendly platform from which new, young designers can launch. Simon Bolzoni, of the new contemporary line Bolzoni & Walsh, thinks London is ideal for young designers right now. When compared to a more established city known for its luxury labels, like Milan, Bolzoni said, “Something like this wouldn’t happen [in Milan]. There’s no exposure for a young designer; they can’t take the risks there.” Alexander even thinks it’s a good thing that some designers leave to show abroad as they get more established. “If you look at the wealth of talent we’ve got here at the moment...at some point it’s better if some designers do go abroad, because they clear space for other designers to show," she told us. "If they all stayed here we’d have London fashion year."
But it seems like luxury is coming back to London fashion,too. Stella McCartney showed a one-off collection this season, and McQ, the Alexander McQueen diffusion line that is now back under the creative direction of Sarah Burton, had its first show in London. But in case you still don’t believe it, maybe you’ll listen to Anna Wintour, who was front and center at a lot of shows this season in London. She spoke to a reporter outside the Burberry show (watch it below), saying, “London’s just become so much more grown-up and glamorous and polished…I think they’re really aiming for global attention, which is what they deserve.”
We agree, Anna.