A hybrid London Fashion Week kicked off on Friday, with a mix of digital presentations and the event’s first in-person shows in a year.
International press and buyers were back watching the catwalk presentations, including displays from menswear designer and choreographer Saul Nash and Turkish-born Bora Aksu.
“It feels really great to be back,” Caroline Rush, chief executive of the British Fashion Council (BFC), told Reuters. “We’re excited to see those key media and retailers that help drive British business.”
The line-up features 79 physical events – including shows, appointments and presentations – and 82 digital productions. Only a handful of designers held in-person catwalk shows last September.
At in-person events “we will be asking for proof of vaccination, we will be encouraging everybody to test every morning,” Rush said.
“And if people haven’t been vaccinated, then testing every morning will be absolutely mandatory as well. Backstage is much stricter … and we will be encouraging people to wear masks.”
This season, the BFC has teamed up with short-video platform TikTok to host its NEWGEN programme aimed at up-and-coming designers.
Saul Nash dressed models in relaxed loungewear including shiny or printed tracksuits and matching polo tops and shorts.
Known for her feminine designs, Alice Temperley took inspiration from Agatha Christie mystery “Death on the Nile” for her spring/summer 2022 collection.
In a pre-recorded video, models wore floral, leaf and zebra-print dresses, checked trouser suits and safari-inspired denim jumpsuits. For evening wear, there were green silky and black sparkly gowns.
Bora Aksu turned to late Amsterdam socialite Mathilde Willink, known for her bold style, for his spring line of colourful, ruffled dresses, flared trousers and knit ensembles.
In an outdoor garden show, models wore silk tulle and taffeta dresses in hot pink, green, yellow, red and coral – some adorned in floral embellishments. There were also pussy bow collars, cropped jackets and trench coats, accessorised with knotted headscarves.
“As we’re stepping into this new world after a lockdown … I tried to inject this kind of humour and encouragement, and just saying that we don’t actually need to limit ourselves with fitting in a box, we can be free,” Aksu told Reuters.
The luxury goods industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, with demand dwindling due to store closures and travel restrictions.
The UK womenswear market was worth 26.5 billion pounds ($36.49 billion) in 2020, down from 30.6 billion pounds the previous year, according to market research firm Mintel.
London Fashion Week runs until Tuesday.
($1 = 0.7262 pound)
(By Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Mindy Burrows. Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; additional reporting by Mindy Burrows and Ben Makori; Editing by Andrew Heavens)