On the opening day of London Fashion Week, Drapers took a trip around the capital’s West End to see which retailers got in to the spirit of London’s prime fashion event.
A visit to London’s shopping Mecca on the first morning of London Fashion Week last week revealed a surprising lack of fanfare surrounding the event.
Those retailers on Regent Street, Oxford Street and Bond Street which did pull out all the stops to create windows in celebration of Britain’s fashion offer for autumn 10 were all the more eye-catching next to their peers’ sparser displays.
Burberry, Mulberry and Liberty’s colourful and quirky windows served to emphasise the poor show from the likes of Jaeger, Aquascutum and Reiss, which hadn’t tailored their windows, were still in clearance mode or had simply stuck the ‘Canon sponsors London Fashion Week’ sticker in the window corner.
Given the number of shoppers and buyers that flock to the capital during the six-day event expecting the best that British fashion has to offer, the lack of theatre was a missed opportunity, especially given the party feeling generated by last season’s 25th anniversary event.
Here, Richard Ash, founder and chief executive of fashion retail design experts Green Room Retail, shares his thoughts on a selection of the windows.
A key London Fashion Week supporter and designer, Burberry has not disappointed with its windows this season. The British luxury label has created an elegant and striking window scheme across all of its windows at both its Regent Street and Bond Street stores. Large characters in the shape of letters from the Burberry typeface act as stages for the mannequins, creating a dynamic and varied skyline. My only negative observation was that a few of the windows would benefit from raising the displays to make more use of the huge panes. Otherwise an excellent execution.
I have scratched my head to try and work out how using bamboo, rope and leaf shrouds is relevant to LFW - the link is not clear. Having said this, by dangling legs from the huge totems they not only fill the windows in a striking manner but also draw the eye to the product which is never easy when you are trying to show shoes. This quirky window display is fun, fresh and very well constructed and I loved the irreverent concept.
As the doyenne of the London fashion scene, Liberty really is a wonderful store and the windows are often among the most creative in the capital. In this case the use of beautifully-delicate coloured ostrich feathers against a black background creates an elegantly theatrical stage for the mannequins that excites and draws the eye. In resisting the temptation to cram the window with product - a common failing for many a retailer - they focus on the beauty of the Peter Pilotto dress. A true celebration of fashion.
Mulberry’s local balloon retailer has done plenty of business this season as the LFW designer label has utilised a colourful array in this funfair fantasy solution complete with brightly coloured carousel horses and a tiered ‘cake’. In some respects the product is quite lost in the bright cacophony of the window however it certainly ticks many boxes in terms of catching the eye and generating a sunny disposition.
The huge graphics on the M&S window leaves no one under any illusion that it is LFW and for promoting this the retailer deserves much credit, as many other members of the high street surprisingly chose to ignore the event. By combining graphics on the glass line as well as large freestanding characters and statements to the rear of the window M&S has created real depth in what was an otherwise very shallow bed. The mannequins - of which there are many - are positioned in varied stances which make for an interesting scene although it is clear that the maxim ‘less is more’ was not applied here. 7/10
As a retailer famed for it’s minimal approach to store design Reiss has really skimped here, electing to simply put a LFW sticker on the glass of their window. Apart from that nothing has changed and this is a huge shame – if you make your living from British fashion it would make sense to create a splash around one of the key events in the calendar. All in all a very disappointing effort.
As a LFW sponsor I was looking for something both spectacular and exclusive from Topshop and by blacking out the majority of their two large Oxford Street windows they certainly command attention. Stylish mannequins in one window and a big screen streaming the catwalk shows from LFW in the other was supplemented by designer profiles. Whilst I loved the fashion credentials I have seen some incredible executions from Topshop were much more creative than this and it could have been more innovative.
As visitors come from all over the world to visit LFW it would be good to see more retailers got behind Britain’s fashion offer to promote the huge design talent these islands have to offer. By suspending different coloured clothes tags from tensioned wires Whistles has literally flown the flag and for this alone I applaud them. This window just goes to prove that creating something engaging does not need to cost the earth and often a simple solution with one powerful message can be so effective.