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The London Fashion Week: Spring / Summer 2009
The London Fashion Week (LFW) has been scrutinised by the press ever since its initial launch but have the pure fashion aspects been overshadowed by the debates which surround it?
The failure to ban “size zero” models from the catwalks has been criticised by the media. Hilary Riva, chief executive of the British Fashion Council which organises the LFW, has said that models should have to obtain a doctor’s certificate to prove their healthiness. The aim is to discourage eating disorders but other fashion capitals have failed to follow London's lead. The British Fashion Council consequently abandoned its crusade. The Independent reminds us that this is in fact a burning issue which needs to be addressed: “Last September, Spain introduced rules banning models with a Body Mass Index (BMI) under 18 appearing on the catwalk in Madrid. This followed the death of the Uruguayan model Luisel Ramos, who died of heart failure after starving herself for days. Two months later, the death of the Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston was linked to her battle with anorexia. Milan followed Madrid's lead while Paris described it as a "non-issue.” This year, what initially looked like a successful start to the battle against underweight models and mental illness in the fashion industry, has turned to bitter disappointment in London for those of us who were hoping to see significant results.
Moreover the international challenge from New York to London's central role as a fashion capital in addition to this on-going health battle have disrupted the positive hype which usually surrounds the event. Fortunately, officials from the fashion capitals of the world agreed on Tuesday that New York could stage its Fashion Week a little later as it wanted, shaving a day off London, which follows NYC, but guaranteeing the British capital a five-day slot. It feared that cutting back to four days could make it less attractive to big-name British designers such as Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood who might decide to go directly from New York to Milan, which comes after London. However representatives from New York, London, Milan and Paris have reached a deal that will secure London Fashion Week's place in the heart of fashion's style afficionados.
Despite all this the LFW presented a fantastic exhibition of 200 of the most brilliant designers and a showcase of 53 catwalks such as Luella, Stella Mac Cartney, PPQ, Julien Mac Donald, and last but not least Vivienne Westwood is back after a few seasons in NY.
So, what are the new trends? Does London still deserve its reputation as the innovative capital? What role does Paris now play in the fashion calendar?
Some trends spotted during the catwalks at the London Fashion Week!
The skirt suit's sexier sister! In all the catwalks from Paul Smith to Top Shop Unique. It's a must have.
Florals continue to make their imprint on spring 2009, following their success this summer.
Cuts are strict: it's all about geometry.
Tribal influences with African-inspired patterns in browns, creams and black replace folk ones.
Draping is confined to evening wear no more.
Don't be afraid of bright colours, they are everywhere.
Headwear is 'de rigueur' this year.
How significant a role does London Fashion Week now play? The consensus view is that Paris is old fashioned and cannot rival London's creativity and dynamism. Is this view justified? Will London completely dethrone Paris?
Parisians are above all known for their impeccable and classic style. A stroll in the 7eme and the various hues of beige, grey and black will confirm this in feminine but equally classic cuts will confirm this. The best instance is the " Parisian style ambassador" and Gerard Darel’s icon: Charlotte Gainsbourg. A classic designer whose designs look at home both on a twenty year old as they do on a fifty year old. It is timeless.
English fashion however is audacious, imaginative, colourful but not always very smart and does not stand the test of time quite a swell. Experimentation is the order of the day.
The same is reflected in its architectural differences. While London these days is marked by innovation, Paris favours preservation. While London is leading its new and often controversial architectural projects, the City of Light appears more concerned with scrubbing up its existing monuments.
But London has yet to prove itself. Let us see if it will deliver.