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LFW back on form as catwalk sizzles

London Fashion Week found itself firmly back at the heart of the international buying calendar this week, providing a huge boost to the British fashion industry.

The buzz of the event’s 1990s heyday returned to the capital thanks to an impressive catwalk line-up, which included Matthew Williamson and Luella.

New and established labels also returned to the Exhibition at LFW for spring 08 after an absence of several seasons.

Stuart Rose, chief executive of Marks & Spencer and chairman of LFW organiser the British Fashion Council, said the event had exceeded his expectations. Sitting in the front row for the Betty Jackson show, he told Drapers: “New York Fashion Week was a bit flat this season, so London looked even more impressive. There’s a huge buzz around, with new and established talent. The product looks great too.”

LFW last enjoyed such dizzy heights back in the 1990s, when John Galliano, and later Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen, drew huge numbers of influential buyers and press to London and the UK fashion scene.

BFC chief executive Hilary Riva, who has been credited with the turn-around at LFW, said: “Our designers seem to have made some big impressions. There has been an exciting buzz around London Fashion Week and we have heard many positive comments from the media and buyers, which will hopefully translate into orders and business growth for the designers.”
Buyers said the collections had been commercial as well as exciting, with the likes of Julien Macdonald and Gareth Pugh singled out as highlights.

Buyer Sarah Murray from Jane Davidson in Edinburgh said: “There is so much quality here. People are buying more and the collections are really wearable.”

Liberty head of fashion and accessories Caroline Greer said: “Duro Olowu impressed me enormously. Marios Schwab pushed the boundaries this season.”

Browns fashion buyer Bev Malik was interested in Christopher Kane and Aquascutum. “It makes you feel excited about the young designers in London. Todd Lynn was great,” she said.

Exhibitors at the static show were upbeat, with Ann Louise Roswald returning to LFW for the first time in six years. Sales and marketing executive Karen Morfill said the brand had had a busy show and picked up new accounts.

Diab’less director Debra Winstanley said: “It’s been a fantastic show for us. It gets better every season – we’ve been mobbed. We’ve seen a lot of independents here, which is really important,” she said.

Visitors to LFW included Square in Bath, Fluidity in Henley-on-Thames inOxfordshire, The Hamble-don in Winchester, and The Cross and Austique in west London. For a full LFW report, see next week’s issue.

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