London balling?

Will LFW's bid for the big league ruin the view or reinvigorate our landscape?

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Photography Louise Damgaard

Around London Fashion week, Dazed contributor Isabella Burley offers her view on how men and women dress with The London Cut

The New York shows were a worrying time for fashion. However, as a new season begins in London, they bring about a certain optimism. London has always upheld its own unique position amongst its global counterparts, carving out a rebellious gang of designers, from the great l'enfant terribles of Alexander McQueen, to new generation of talent including Meadham Kirchhoff, Simone Rocha and Christopher Kane

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Meadham Kirchhoff Men's SS13 Morgan O'Donovan

But this season sees Tom Ford showcase his first own label womenswear show in London. It seemed a unlikely choice, considering options in Paris and Milan. Yet, this decision will result in much international interest from both press and buyers, possibly creating a domino effect for other big names. On the other hand, Burberry has remained in London, despite speculation that they too will show else where. For a designer like Christopher Kane, who carved out his career in London after graduating from Central St Martins, whose most recent MA class, shown on Friday, is displayed above, the recent news of a 51% investment from PPR fuels the question of whether he will remain here? Then again, PPR are a company that hasn't signed a British label since buying Alexander McQueen in 2001, so Kane's acquisition marks a major moment for British design. 

The thing to remember, is that London has a constant flux of emerging talent. Something that other cities fail to maintain. Initiatives like Lulu Kennedy's Fashion East, have become micro machines and taste makers in their own right, supporting young designers and ensuring high quality talent is shown on the schedule. Monday sees Claire Barrows second season with them and the release of a highly anticipated new collection of hand-painted delights. On the other hand, designers like Simone Rocha who began with Fashion East, have gone on to have their own solo shows. Rocha's forthcoming show is supported by the BFC Fashion Forward Award, enabling her to build a solid brand and not simply a showcase a few collection before disappearing. Meadham Kirchhoff too have been subject to similar support.

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Christopher Kane, SS13 Morgan O'Donovan

What has become evident in recent years, is the influx of international interest in London, both from buyers and press. It is something the British Fashion Council have really attempted to push to a new extreme this season, by teaming up with YouTube for the first time, in order to broadcast 21 shows live from its LFW channel. In todays digital age of live streaming, this new partnership gives outsiders access to the shows, with the potential to reach a mass  international audience. 

While established names may be appearing on this week's schedule and ensuring a aftermath of international attention and commercial interest, London fashion will always have its own unique social history. It is one that has been shaped by the support given to young designers, the freedom of not being constricted by a solely commercially minded system and, of course, the spirit of rebellion that has always reverberated through London's streets. 

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