London Fashion Week’s fanfare has now come to an end, during last week’s activities I noticed strong appreciation and empathy for ‘The London Look’ that the UK seems to nurture and export so well. Generally, we do a fantastic job of getting behind our homegrown talent, and this year was no exception! It is London’s time right now; all eyes are on us with this being our Olympic year and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Many of the big guns were showing this season including the debut of McQ (Alexander McQueen’s diffusion line) unveiling an enchanting performance that reinforces the brand’s reputation as the master of “fashion show theatre”, and Mochino Cheap & Chic making its London entrance. As well as the usual power players and the industry newbie’s, such as the fash-pack favourite Mary Katrantzou.
Being alternative is always London’s strong suit, as marked by Stella McCartney’s triumphant return in over 16 years of absence. McCartney hosted a decadent six-course private dinner, complete with plenty of party tricks, as opposed to the traditional catwalk runway approach. Models, who dined amongst fashionistas, celebrities and socialites, at intermittent intervals exploded into dance prompted by musical cues, complemented by Alex Chung’s sashay into high jinx magic, which went down a storm with the audience. McCartney’s dinner/show was hailed as ground breaking and a well-needed refreshing change from the norm. In a similar vein, Victoria Beckham chose an intimate dinner for select movers and shakers at Harvey Nichols to unveil her new critically acclaimed diffusion line Victoria, Victoria Beckham.
There were some interesting jewellery collaborations on the catwalk, such as Shaun Leane’s bespoke neckpiece created for Todd Lynn; also Shaun’s Cherry Blossom Collection adorned the models during Antonio Berardi’s show. There was a new brand marriage for sport lux designer Christian Blanken and American fine jeweller Armenta. Custom designed cuffs and belts in exotic skins and embellished with Armenta’s distinctive gold and silver motifs firmly established next seasons military trend.
My most exciting discovery of the week was the new Rock Vault exhibition curated by Stephen Webster and sponsored by Palladium International and the British Fashion Council. This is a great platform for emerging fine jewellery designers to promote themselves. Not only does it help with business mentoring, but also provides a much needed, relevant platform to further develop exposure amongst both UK and international media and retailers. Finally it seems jewellery, the poor cousin, is playing catch up with the fashion establishment! I loved the dedicated space allowing each designer to create their own theatre and express the individuality of their brands.
My favourite finds were Sophie Bille Brahe and her unique avant-garde pieces that invite you into her imagination, transporting you into her make believe land. Jordan Askill and his modern take on object d’art were not necessarily as commercial but mesmerizingly beautiful and genuinely interesting. Jo Hayes-Ward’s intricate sculptural pieces had a unique architectural aesthetic, I really liked the way she fused digital technology and traditional jewellery techniques. Her three-dimensional cube filigree technique evoked an essence of the famous sixties jewellery house Grima, And finally, Tomasz Donocik had a wonderful installation that set the scene with immediate impact as you entered Rock Vault. All in all a great experience and one that seems to benefit the designers and the good of the industry as a whole.
On a final note, the British Fashion Council has teamed up with industry power players including Sir Philip Green, Anna Wintour and Harold Tilman to name a few to launch a new project called the Future of Fashion – Strategic Considerations for Growth.
The UK fashion and jewellery industry is the jewel in our crown and is worth £21billion to the UK economy, it makes a vital contribution to the global reputation of Great Britain as a leader in creative excellence. It broadly covers most elements of the industry including skills, training, education, jobs, skill development, manufacturing and retail. All are important stages in the food chain and highlights that much more needs to be done to drive this sector forward and contribute to economic growth.
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