Well look who’s all grown up!
The lasting impression London Fashion Week left buyers and journalists as they jetted off for Milan was that the week, long considered the enfant terrible of the circuit, had come of age in its autumn 13 season. For years the creativity of London’s designers was not in question (the likes of John Galliano, Alexander McQueen and Christopher Bailey plied their trade all over the fashion world) but their business nous was. While commerciality has been slowly infiltrating the week for a fair few seasons now, autumn 13 was the first where it felt like London’s designers all got together and screwed their collective business head on.
“Hurrah!” we all should have shouted but, while there’s no doubting many buyers will be rubbing their hands together at the prospect of stocking London’s latest wares, I was left scratching my head: in making their collections more commercial some designers have lost the essence of why we loved them in the first place. When the likes of Louise Gray, Meadham Kirchhoff and Michael van der Ham all dial it right the way down you know something’s up, but in the quest for sales, hearts have been lost. The sharp oddness and extravagance designers used to make their names has been dulled. It’s like drinking Diet Coke: it’s a far inferior experience to the full fat version that leaves you feeling prudent yet ultimately unsatisfied, like it didn’t quite hit the spot.
While couture is fantastical, luxury ready-to-wear is the best platform on which to develop the fusing of the inventive and the practical, or at least it should be. Obviously anyone with eyes can see these collections aren’t all brown slacks and sensible shoes but without that je ne sais quoi they are ultimately weaker for it. Perhaps customers will prove me wrong and these new business-savvy brands will sell out in stores but I really hope they haven’t sold out in the process.
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