As the fash pack get ready to take over the capital once again, Marie Claire looks back at some of the most beautiful, baffling and memorable London Fashion Week moments ever…
Over 30 years on from its debut, London Fashion Week is still a breeding ground for the world’s boldest and most cutting-edge designers. From Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood, to Simone Rocha and Christopher Kane, we’ve produced some of the planet’s most covetable fashion brands and (with the help of clever schemes like NEWGEN and Fashion East in place) we’re already nurturing the next generation of IT Brit labels.
London Fashion Week isn’t all about the clothes, though. From pop icons walking the runway (we’re looking at you Vicky B), to surprise star turn-outs at a graduate’s debut, you can always count on LFW to throw some super-glam surprises at its equally stylish audience.
So in no particular order, London Fashion Week, here are your best bits.
1987 – Meet John Galliano
John Galliano won Designer Of The Year in 1987, after what was considered to be a breakthrough show. The major accolade came just three years after he showed his graduate collection Les Incroyables in 1984, the entirety of which was immediately snapped up by Joan Burstein, founder of London boutique Browns.
1998 – Alexander McQueen And The Spray Robot
Now Alexander ‘Lee’ McQueen was a man who knew how to put on a show. He smashed all LFW boundaries from the get-go with his debut ‘Highland Rape’ collection back in 1995, but one of our favourite moments ever was his 1998 masterpiece, Number 13. Supermodel Shalom Harlow rotated on a wooden turntable as robotic arms spray painted her tulle dress before the audience’s very eyes. It was a genius statement about the increasingly automated production processes used in the fashion industry and, quite literally, left everybody staring at the future of fashion.
1997 – Matthew Williamson’s Electric Angels
London’s new king of boho was born in September 1997 when Central Saint Martins grad Matthew Williamson made his LFW debut. Pals Helena Christensen, Jade Jagger and Kate Moss modelled three of the future star’s 14 show looks, a colour clash collection like no other before, cleverly called Electric Angels.
2006 – Christopher Kane Paints The Town Neon
One of LFW’s hottest debuts ever, Christopher Kane burst onto the radar with his SS07 collection of fluoro bandage mini dresses and left the fash pack in raptures. Those safety clip buckles are now iconic and form the super-covetable details on his classic bag line.
1995 – Stella McCartney’s Graduation Show, Guest Starring Kate Moss
When your dad is rock royalty and your BFF is Mossy, you really don’t need to worry whether people will take any notice of your graduate collection. Kate’s did the honours at Stella’s Central Saint Martins graduation show back in 1995, conveniently causing a media storm around the rising design star.
1981 – Vivienne Westwood Plunders History
Ok, so technically this was pre-London Fashion Week (as it was named in 1984), but we couldn’t leave Vivienne Westwood’s now-legendary ‘Pirates’ collection out of our highlights. Her 1981 show at London’s Olympia was a turning point for British fashion, as bold new cuts and historical styling clashed to create an entirely new aesthetic.
2006 – Hello Henry Holland
Now the linchpin of the modern LFW set, Henry Holland started out as a journalist slash fashion groupie, making tees for his designer mates to wear when they took their post-show bows. ‘Get Your Freak On Giles Deacon‘ and ‘UHU Gareth Pugh’ quickly became London’s hottest slogans and demand grew for Henry to start his own proper line, which he dutifully did in 2006.
2013 – When Tom Came To Town
The icon that is Tom Ford graced our capital’s style calendar for the first time in 2013, after more than a decade without showing on the runways. So to celebrate, he put on an uber glam display like no other. Justin Timberlake and Elton John sat frow-side while the collection itself was a blitz of statement embellishments, Hollywood-worthy gowns and a whole lot of hot fuzz.
2014 – Anya Hindmarch Takes Us Shopping
Accessories designer Anya’s raised the bar recently with her increasingly theatrical LFW shows. For SS15, she sent the fash pack into a literal spin on a tea cup ride, but it was AW14’s ‘Counter Culture’ show that really set the standard. There could be no better setting for her crisp packet clutches and Bourbon biscuit bags than in a giant barcode set, complete with moving conveyor belts and a troop of very useful male dancers to help pack up the shopping.
2005 – Gareth Pugh’s New Vision
LFW didn’t really do avant-garde like this until Gareth came along. Latex met sculpture, met unicorns met, erm, inflatables at Pugh’s debut in 2005, accessorized with the world’s first serrrious flatforms.
2001 – Victoria Beckham Turns Catwalk Model
In her post-Spice Girl, pre-fashion design sensation years, Victoria Beckham had a lot more time on her hands. So, naturally, when Maria Grachvogel asked her to model her 2001 collection, Victoria obliged. Little did Maria know, however, that savvy VB was already sizing up a design career all of her own. When oh when will she make her LFW homecoming?