London Fashion Week kicks off today in a digital-only, Covid-secure format.
The hectic schedule of shows and parties has been replaced with a genderless, digital format centering on roster of online events – from virtual runways to fashion films – and the international audience who typically jet in from all around the world for the five-day event will this season be tuning in from their homes.
While this year marks yet another dramatic shift in the fashion week format (one that some say should become a more permanent evolution), there can be no doubt that, since its launch in 1984, London Fashion Week has become known as one of the most star-studded, fabulous events in the capital.
But London Fashion Week wasn’t always such a glitzy affair. In fact, it was initially founded in a car park in Kensington. John Galliano and Zandra Rhodes were a few of the visionaries to be uncovered in the eighties, as well as Tracey Boyd, Ghost and Betty Jackson, which were popular brands at the time.
Although the early nineties saw the recession hit the fashion industry hard, Alexander McQueen exploded onto the scene in 1992 and dominated the catwalks throughout the era with his boundary-pushing designs. His shows encapsulated an element of creativity and uniqueness which still pervades London Fashion Week today.
It's not just the models who change with the times, but the designers, too. The LFW schedule is growing increasingly competitive, which means many designers don't make the cut year on year. But there are those who have managed to stand the test of time, keeping their place on the prestigious schedule for decades.
Vivienne Westwood rose to fame in the eighties thanks to her punk attitude which fused fashion with politics and pop culture. Years later and her collections still manage to be as relevant and powerful today as they were then, her fashion shows remaining one of the most-anticipated spectacles each season.
Other long-running labels include Burberry, John Rocha, Pam Hogg and Julien Macdonald, whose shows are never short of A-listers. In 1999, Macdonald created a memorable moment when he welcomed Kate Moss and Scary Spice onto the catwalk to showcase his latest sparkly creations.
Despite being unable to design physical events in which to showcase their collections this season, London’s designers have been impressively creative with digital formats – from Spotify playlists and fashion films, to Virtual Reality runways and panel talks.
That said, we can’t help but hope we can one day return to a line-up of fabulous fashion show spectacles; because few do it better than the creative talents of London.