As London Fashion Week kicks off once again, look back at the most iconic moments...
20th February 2015
Today, Somerset House flings open its doors once again to welcome the world’s most stylish for seven days of catwalk shows. London Fashion Week 2015 – a week that promises to deliver extreme posing, lavish parties and attract the most passionate fashionistas – kicked off this morning by J.JS Lee with her new eponymous fashion line.
In its 31st year, London Fashion Week organisers, in association with the British Fashion Council, know exactly how to put on good show. The schedule consists of back-to-back live fashion shows and the arena is sure to be filled with anticipation and excitement of what’s to come next. Well-known designers such as Temperley London, Mulberry and Orla Kiely will all be in attendance this year.
The woman behind it all is fashion PR expert, Lynne Franks. She founded London Fashion week in 1984 after she spotted a niche in the fashion event market. The existing London Fashion Exhibition had already been rebranded and restaged to fit the fashion month calendar just a year earlier, but editors and buyers were still having to traipse between designers studios due to a lack of space. Lynne Franks proposed that the event needed to be streamlined and wanted to offer editors and buyers a one-stop-shop for everything fashion related. So, she erected a marquee outside the Commonwealth Institute on Kensington High Street and London Fashion Week, as we now know it, was born.
Now held in Somerset House, the event has evolved to be one of Britain’s most prestigious and well-respected fashion events.
From well-dressed royal guests to who’s occupying front row, we take you back through London Fashion Week’s rich history with the most iconic moments from 1984 to 2015…
Before Alexander McQueen captured the fashion world’s attention, BodyMap’s shows were the hottest ticket thanks to their distinctive printed clubwear, off-the-wall choreography (think outfit changes mid walk and plenty of dancing), a capella soundtrack and Boy George’s mum modeling.
The husband-and-wife fashion team who became a household name after they created Diana Princess of Wales’ wedding dress, took to the London Fashion Week catwalk in 1983.
Alistair Blair showed his first fashion collection at London Fashion Week in 1986. With a first class degree from Central St Martin’s School of Art and training at Dior and Givenchy, Paris, Blair was well known, not for making bold fashion statements, but for bringing wearable couture pieces to the catwalk.
She wowed in Paris with her ‘Nostalgia of Mud’ collection in the early eighties, but in 1987 Vivienne Westwood returned home. She celebrated with an unmistakably British presentation packed with Harris Tweed and plaits.
This is probably an outfit she’d rather forget. Model and former French first lady, Carla Bruni joins the supers on the catwalk in 1987.
The front row is always an indicator of who’s in fashion now. Nowadays we might be more likely to see American Vogue Editor, Anna Wintour perched next to Rihanna or Kate Moss, but back in the late eighties the VIPs were Lenny Henry, Dawn French and Paula Yates.
A rising star called John Galliano debuted his Central Saint Martin’s graduate collection at the first London Fashion Week in 1984. By the end of the decade, his show had been given main billing and supermodels like Helena Christensen were clamouring to walk for him. Even though his presentations always ran hours late.
Tribal designs in all white at Rifat Ozbek captured the zeitgeist of the early nineties. Model Yasmin Le Bon typified the New Age vibe in a thigh split maxi dress.
Fashion Week has launched the careers of so many models, but none more so than London-born supermodels Naomi and Kate who have been a regular fixture on the catwalks, in the front rows and at the exclusive afterparties since the early days.
The Duchess of Cambridge isn’t the first princess to champion British fashion. Princess Diana was a Fashion Week fan from the start. Pictured here at a LFW gala wearing a Bruce Oldfield dress, she attended various shows, especially those put on by her favourite designers.
The hedonism of Ibiza hit London in 1997 as Matthew Williamson sent friends Kate Moss, Helena Christensen and Jade Jagger down the catwalk in kaleidoscopic dresses. A new trend, known as boho, was born. Ten years on and Williamson was joined by Prince at his London Fashion Week anniversary show for the biggest party the catwalk has ever seen!
The late Alexander McQueen was always the main event. He often came up with the idea for his shows before starting his new collection skteches. His 1998 show, ‘No 13’ is one of the most famous. Model Shalom Harlow took to the catwalk for the finale in a strapless gown and was spray painted by robots as a comment on the growing industrialisation of the design process.
She’s now one of the main fixtures at New York Fashion Week, but at the turn of the twenty-first century Victoria Beckham was modeling clothes for Maria Grachvogel rather than designing them.
Designer, Katherine Hamnett used her 2003 show to comment on the biggest political issue of the day – the invasion of Iraq.
Late fashion stylist, Isabella Blow’s choice of Fashion Week headwear was always guaranteed to turn heads.
High fashion ruled until Topshop shook up the schedule as the first high street brand to showcase their designs at London Fashion Week. Other stores followed suit inculding Marks and Spencer in 2014.
In September 2006, Christopher Kane was a little known Central Saint Martins graduate. But, with a little help from his late Professor Louise Wilson and Donatella Versace – plus sponsorship from Topshop – his neon lace dresses jumped straight to the top of the buyers’ shopping lists. He’s now at the forefront of British design.
You know a new designer is something special when they pick up 15 prestigious stockists during their debut show. Mary Katrantzou’s colourful illusory digital prints had the fashion pack in a spin in 2009. A few months later, her collaboration with Topshop sold out worldwide.
Karl Lagerfeld’s Paris shows are always a theatrical dream, but Essex-born accessories designer, Anya Hindmarch gave Chanel’s creative director a run for his money on this side of the Channel in February. She transformed the catwalk in to a supermarket complete with conveyor belt, dancing male models and Kelloggs cockerel emblazoned bags.