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UK fashion must seize the moment

Jessica Brown

It was a funny old fashion week. Certainly one of the best in recent years for inventive yet commercial collections and for high-profile buyer attendance, but in terms of trends London’s was a rather chaotic message.

It was a funny old fashion week. Certainly one of the best in recent years for inventive yet commercial collections and for high-profile buyer attendance, but in terms of trends London’s was a rather chaotic message.

Anchor show Burberry Prorsum led what was probably the overarching statement - that autumn 11 is all about the coat. Chief creative officer Christopher Bailey showed all manner of outerwear, starting with 1960s brights through to furs and traditional military styles, with mixed success.

Bailey and his fellow Brits must be banking on a third consecutive autumn of freezing weather, as no amount of glossy coverage will shift floor-sweeping or body-cocooning wool coats in a mild winter. Knee boots meanwhile are a surefire winner regardless.

Long silhouettes were also key, with maxi skirts and dresses, and extra long wide-legged or flared trousers with 1970s undertones a feature of many shows. Of particular note was the use of bright colours normally associated with spring. Red will undoubtedly work at lots of levels, but orange and almost neon pink remain hard to wear and are so distinctive they just don’t fit with the current consumer need for investment dressing.

But British fashion is having a moment - just watch tweed, tartan, classic outerwear and suiting gather momentum. There is a huge opportunity for this moment to last. All eyes will be on the capital for the royal wedding in April (Kate Middleton and guests will almost certainly go gung ho to champion British designers) while preparation for the Olympics in 2012 will keep ‘cool Britannia’ front of mind.

British Fashion Council chairman Harold Tillman, who has helped boost the profile of LFW, is the right person to lead the way to capitalise on this opportunity. It would be a shame if the Government did not support his efforts with a gesture to keep LFW at the top of its game.

Jessica Brown Editor

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