London Fashion Week’s come a long way in the last 30something years. Nowadays, the five-day-long event ranks alongside Paris, Milan and New York and is a big player in the fashion industry globally.
But like everything, Britain’s most prolific display of current fashion collections started small. In a Kensington car park in 1984, to be exact.
Since then, the event’s been re-homed numerous times (the Ritz, Somerset House, Soho’s Brewer Street car park and, now, 180 The Strand are just some of the iconic venues LFW has set up camp in over the past few decades) and the sheer volume of designers showing their upcoming lines has increased significantly.
Zhandra Rhodes, Betty Jackson and Ghost are just some of the big names who debuted their collections in the 80s, making a name for both themselves and London Fashion Week. But it was John Galliano’s collection that stood out. “Galliano’s graduate show was stunning – a free spirit,” reported the Telegraph. Just two years later, both the late Princess of Wales and Margaret Thatched attended shows, mixing politics, royalty and fashion – not for the last time.
The recession in the early nineties was a blow to the event, and only a few designers were picked to show at a handful of rooms in the Ritz in 1992 (including Alexander McQueen, who floored attendees with his debut), but since then LFW has only prospered.
After a brief blow in 1992, where the recession lead to a significant down-sizing of the event, LFW was back with a bang in 1993 when Naomi Campbell hit headlines by taking to the catwalk topless wearing just a Philip Treacy hat.
The 90s also saw Stella McCartney welcomed to the style scene. The daughter of Linda and Paul McCartney experienced tremendous success with her first collection, which completely sold out after her 1995 spring/summer show, which Kate Moss walked in.
Later in the decade, a size 14 Sophie Dahl caused a stir when strutting down the runway, sparking a debate about the lack of ‘real women’ in fashion – a talking point that still rages on today.
In 2000, Victoria Beckham took to Maria Grachvogel’s runway in green satin hotpants, an experience that the now-designer remembers as “absolutely terrifying”. Six years later, Christopher Kane’s debut show was the LFW event no one could stop talking about and a year after that, in 2007, Prince was the hot topic thanks to a performance at Matthew Williamson’s show.
Nowadays, London Fashion Week spans five days and boasts numerous big names – showing just how far it has come. This season alone, Burberry, Mulberry, Temperley, Erdem and Versus Versace are all showing their AW17 collections, promising many wonderful looks for editors to pour over.