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Commercial London Fashion Week lives up to the hype

London Fashion Week stamped its mark on the international buying calendar this week, impressing buyers with some of the most commercial collections seen in years.

The designers returning to London Fashion Week were the stars of the schedule. Burberry Prorsum lived up to the hype surrounding the label with a collection that plugged into the trend for commercial yet feminine and playful product. It used sugary tones of mint and baby-pink chiffon, injecting fresh takes on its signature trench coats and girly dresses.

Matthew Williamson firmly shook off his boho mantle to team ethnic undertones with futuristic shiny fabrics and metallic detailing.

The best of the rest went to Christopher Kane, whose signature style of sinister yet innocent, came through with checked prairie dresses and sherbet silks with cutaway panels.

With big British names such as Burberry Prorsum and Pringle returning to London from rival international catwalks, the pressure was on the organiser, British Fashion Council (BFC), to live up to its promise that its 25th anniversary event would restore the buzz the capital had lacked since the late 1990s.

Early reports suggested the BFC largely succeeded, with a 15% rise on last season’s visitor figures and a host of international buyers and press.

BFC chairman Harold Tillman said: “We had great feedback from international and UK attendees. There are always things we can improve and work on but that is what drives us forward.”
Buyers were impressed by new talent as well as the much-hyped big-name returns.

Liberty buying director Ed Burstell said: “London Fashion Week certainly lived up to the hype with the return of Burberry and Matthew Williamson. Both put on outstanding shows. Other favourites were Luella, for her flirty and very saleable dresses, and Mark Fast and Mary Katrantzou as new talent to watch.”

He added that the relocation of the event to Somerset House had been long overdue. That sentiment was echoed by Harvey Nichols’ fashion buying director Averyl Oates, who said Somerset House and 180 The Strand “proved that in London we don’t always need a faceless warehouse space for ambience”.

However, other buyers found the venue confusing. Pamela Shiffer, owner of the eponymous two-store London indie, said: “It was hard to get an overview with all the different rooms in Somerset House.”

Some exhibitors said the new exhibition space at 180 The Strand was quiet, but Tillman argued that brands that marketed themselves well made good sales. He said: “The exhibitors that made appointments and created a focus on their area wrote business.”

Visitors were confident that LFW would now become an essential fixture on the buying calendar. Selfridges’ director of womenswear Anita Barr said: “If the BFC can persuade labels such as Burberry to show here again it will cement London’s importance.”

Tillman added: “We know we have our work cut out but we are confident that we can continue to raise the bar.”

Christopher Kane’s autumn collection at Topshop

A crowd of over 100 shoppers queued outside Topshop’s flagship store today as the third High Street collection by, one of my favourite designers, Christopher Kane went on sale. Some had been waiting for over an hour and a half, desperate to get their hands on the young British designer’s third line for the store, available at a fraction of the price of his mainline collection. In scenes reminiscent of the launch of Stella McCartney’s collection for H&M, customers gathered piles of embellished neon dresses, printed T-shirts and platform boots – although, like the first Kate Moss collection, the store imposed a five-item-per-customer limit to ensure stock did not sell out too fast.

The 39-piece womenswear collection went into 39 Topshop stores at 9am and on the chain’s website from 6am. This is the largest designer collaboration that the young fashion group has commissioned.

I haven’t had a chance to see any of the pieces yet but I’m sure I’ll be buying a signature crocodile print dress for £60 (pictured) which I love because it’s reminiscent of Kane’s famous gorilla print dress from the spring 09 ready-to-wear collection (which will set you back around £220). Other key pieces from the range include black, pink and lime bodycon mini-dresses with eyelet embellishment for £125, a “hard handbag” with rivet and fringing detail for £65 and a one-shoulder lace mini dress for £75.

Christopher Kane, Erdem and Marios Schwab win Fashion Forward Funding

The British Fashion Council have confirmed today that three of London’s brightest design stars Erdem,(my favourite) Christopher Kane and Marios Schwab will receive Fashion Forward sponsorship for the third year in a row.

This translates in to funding to pay for their London catwalk shows, business advice and support from the British Fashion Council.

Congratulations boys!