As models return to the catwalks, in-person events are part industry’s “reset”, and the party starts again.
Stephanie Phair, British Fashion Council chair, described the feeling as “ecstatic” when London Fashion Week returned to catwalks after 18-months of being on screen.
Critics claim that the revival in-person events is a return of fashion’s carbon-emitting excesses. But Phair said that it was a force for good and an integral part of the current fashion industry “reset”. She spoke at a breakfast with oat milk lattes, fermented potato waffles and coffee-cured sea trout, before the first day’s shows.
Naomi Campbell hosted an overflowing opening night party at Windmill Club in Soho. The street was jammed with partygoers. The champagne ran out an hour after the bar opened.
Campbell toasted Campbell on the stage. Edward Enninful, British Vogue’s editor, applauded from behind a velvet banquette. Someone shouted, “Naomi for President!”
But nerves still remain. Stephen Jones, a milliner for Christian Dior, admitted that he finds it “a little scary” and said, “It’s a little scary actually.” He had worn a three-piece suit with a white beret and checked shirt to the party. “All these people were packed together… but everybody has been vaccinated so it seems OK.”
Osman Yousefzada (a British designer with Afghan and Pakistani heritage) was seen on the dancefloor. He has dressed Lady Gaga but also made a documentary about Bangladeshi garment workers, which was shown at Whitechapel Gallery. Osman said that after a year “of contemplation”, now they want a year full of celebration. He said that fashion week felt “a bit like I’m back at a treadmill I don’t want to be on”.
Burberry and Victoria Beckham have not yet returned to the London schedule, leaving the 28-strong lineup of catwalk shows light on famous names. Han Chong, who had planned to host a show in his home town for Self Portrait, his highly successful London label, this week, was forced by logistical issues imposed by international travel restrictions to cancel his plans. Alice Temperley, a West Country woman, has traveled from Somerset to London in her new collection. She is exhibiting her work from a showroom, rather than on a runway. Alexander McQueen has announced that a London show will be held during the Frieze art fair next year.
Saul Nash was the first to show Friday. He is a young male designer and choreographer from north London. His short films were one that made lockdown fashion week a huge success. The space was once Selfridges’ parking lot. It became a bus stop for after-school students. Models strutted in trackpants, hoodies and Nike trainers. A cagoule’s lining was printed with an image taken from Nash’s school-years Travelcard. Nash claimed he included the image to support free public transport for London’s children and teens, which is currently in danger. Relevancy is the only metric that matters in the new fashion world order.
Many designers want to reach as many people as possible so they are using digital and hybrid “phygital” presentations. David Koma, whose design was worn by Jennifer Lopez in lace up black leather to last week’s Video Music Awards in New York, filmed the new collection being worn on the pool deck at the London Aquatics Centre. The collection was filmed online and guests were invited to view it in person if they had been fully vaccinated.