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Pragmatism not pizzazz at London Fashion Week

There was an odd atmosphere around Somerset House, the Topshop venue and the assortment of other show spaces during London Fashion Week.

Not quite a malaise, nor a jadedness, it was hard to put a finger on but the usual snap, crackle and pop of fashion weeks past seemed tempered. Some of the more grumpy attendees put it down to an absence of anything new while other cantankerous souls suggested it was a case of not peaking too early with Milan and Paris to come, in the same way you don’t fill up on your starter when the kitchen’s about to send out your main course.

But I disagree – I think London’s designers are trying to do the one thing they’ve struggled with in the past: sell. A definite movement towards commerciality was noted at this, traditionally the fashion week most defiantly impervious to economic pressures, as designers established and embryonic alike looked to build their brands rather than their portfolios.

Richard Nicoll talked of his womenswear being a continuation of the themes he explored with his menswear back in June at London Collections: Men, signalling his awareness of the need to work with a common thread across collections à la Prada. Marios Schwab presented more casual separates for the first time as it was announced he would be collaborating with Debenhams while Louise Gray stripped back some of the extraneous flourishes to provide a cleaner backdrop to her energetic prints. Even Meadham Kirchoff had a go at toning it down a touch, with a collection that looked more considered and (dare I say?) wearable than previous seasons.

We may have lacked a big moment but with designers constantly bombarded with at time conflicting advice and critique from buyers, press and punters, let’s hope the understated move towards commerciality sees sales soar so they’ll be showing in those same venues next time around.

Ian Wright, Fashion Director, Drapers
ian.wright@emap.com

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