In just a few weeks, all eyes of the fashion world will look towards London as the city hosts the London Fashion Week from 19 – 23 February 2016 at the Brewer Street Car Park. The 5 day extravaganza will feature some of the top designers from within the United Kingdom and across the globe. The London Fashion Week will culminate with the Elle Style Awards 2016 on 23rd February.
Considered to be amongst the Big 4 Fashion Weeks along with Milan, Paris and New York, the London Fashion Week is now in its 32nd year. Started by the British Fashion Council in 1984, the growth and the ups & downs experienced by the LFW make for an interesting read. Moreover, the Kensington area has played a key role in the lifecycle of the LFW.
The first London Fashion Week, produced by the British Fashion Council, was organised in the car park of the Commonwealth Institute, Kensington in February 1984. The event featured designers like David Fielden, Ghost, John Galliano, amongst others. The British Fashion Council also introduced a Designer of the Year award in 1984 and the first recipient of the award was Katharine Hamnett. The following year, the British Government agreed to sponsor the London Fashion Week after concerted efforts by a select group of established designers and the Vogue UK editor.
The 1990s ushered in a lot of changes as well as highlighted some key issues for the London Fashion Week. The British Fashion Council, in its search for venues that could offer more exhibition space and press space, eventually decided on organising the LFW at the National Museum of History. In 1993, as part of its endeavor to educate and give recognition to up and coming designers, the British Fashion Council offered designers the opportunity to showcase at the LFW. Alexander McQueen was the first designer to benefit from this program. In 1995, Stella McCartney, then a student designer, showcased her collection that was sold out the next day. The global recession as well as the migration of the designers to other Fashion Weeks had a detrimental effect on the London Fashion Week.
The event also faced controversy due to the use of near-anorexic models by by designers, which in turn gave rise to the debate about healthy body images and the correlation between the fashion industry and anorexia. The end result of this debate was the setting up of the Model Health Enquiry and other initiatives and funds aimed at promoting a healthy body image.
In the 2000s, the London Fashion Week had a resurgence with a lot of home-grown designers showcasing their talent. Somerset House became the new venue for the London Fashion Week. In 2010, the London Fashion Week became the first Fashion Week to embrace the internet with all the catwalk shows broadcasted over the web. The event was also responsible for generating orders worth almost £100 million across garments, shoes, handbags and accessories.