London Fashion Week – A Brief History

Take a front row seat with Studio UK for the best of London’s fashion shows and events. Interviews with fashionistas and designers.

London fashion shows come and go but none so high profile and headline-grabbing as London Fashion Week’s spring/summer collections and autumn/winter collections. Here’s a breakdown of the capital’s biggest fashion event, taking you from inception to frills, catwalk spills, upcoming talent and celebrity designers.

Launched by the British Fashion Council in  October 1983, it’s hard to believe it started off in a West London car park – not the glitzy, glamorous image you’d like to associate with the likes of Naomi Campbell and the global supermodel clique. Nonetheless, it launched a long list of upcoming designers and increased the profile of brands which would go on to become household names as the event grew in size, prestige and popularity. Today it ranks in the top four with Paris, Milan and New York, boasts over 5,000 attendees and showcases in excess of 250 designers.

Talking of Naomi Campbell, she was responsible for giving the event a much needed lift when its success took a nose dive during the recession in the early nineties. Her topless runway appearance in 1994 made global headlines and made the London fashion centre a focus of scrutiny – aesthetic and otherwise. No recorded protests though.

Protests did follow in February 2018 as the fashion industry’s association with mink was challenged. Greek-British designer Mary Katrantzou’s autumn/winter catwalk show was upended when a campaigner from animal rights organisation SURGE leapt onto the runway and cried: “Shame on you!” at the audience. She continued to parade with the models until escorted away. However, Mary Katrantzou maintained that her models only use faux fur, releasing an official statement to set the matter straight.

The 2018 spring/summer London Fashion Week was the first officially fur free event since its inception. London became the first of the big four to make this move, with the British Fashion Council troubled by the escalating protests – 25 in 2016 soared to 250 by 2017. Following the lead of wrongly targeted Mary Katrantzou, many designers elected to go fur free well before the British Fashion Council’s survey. Burberry is amongst this ethically-aware new crop, however some major brands such as Prada have refused to bow to pressure.


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