Whilst Milan Fashion Week is raging, the London Fashion Weekend offers the perfect alternative for fashion obsessed folk keen to see shows and translate trends from the catwalk to closet. In terms of accessibility it offers regular folk the chance to experience a fashion week, which is otherwise closed to industry insiders. Discerning shoppers, bargain hunters, press and all shades in between were given the opportunity to preview the hottest looks of Spring/Summer and pick up some great pieces one-off pieces.
The schedule was action packed each day, giving shoppers numerous options including the one of simply sitting down and sipping champagne at the Chambord champagne bar! Needless to say we did more than that, but you would be forgiven if you disappeared there for a few hours as it was quite the vibrant spot. A particular favourite for me were the fashion clinics running all day everyday, which included ‘ELLE’s Insider Trends’ with Bonnie Rahkit from ELLE’s Fashion Editorial Team. Rahkit shared key season looks and insight. ‘A trip into the life and wardrobe of Madonna’ by Ted Owen (curator of the Madonna exhibition) and Andrew Mellon’s ‘How to Shop’ guide tips were also well attended and informative. We also enjoyed the ‘Stylist Session’ offer which presented misguided shoppers with the opportunity to be advised on their wardrobe according to budget, taste and figure for a mere £15.
Official makeup sponsor Elizabeth Arden were offering a 10% discount on all products for the fashion weekenders and there were some cool eco-friendly goody bags courtesy of Richard Nicholl (with £1 from each bag bought going to the Environmental Justice Foundation).
Visitors had the opportunity to flit between runway shows, fashion clinics and exhibitors’ stands, but platinum card holders had the added bonus of the VIP lounge and the goody bags in there (Aspinal diaries, Spa Secrets, Kurt Geiger flip flops, need I go on?!). Other event sponsors included Chambord, Lavazza, Handbag.com, Miele and LG. In the lounge Rachel Hodgetts used Elizabeth Arden’s mineral makeup range to give complimentary makeovers.
Whilst wandering around the exhibition some of the top brands that I caught my eye included shoe brand Finsk, launched by Julia Lundsten. The Royal College of Art graduate’s collection derives inspiration from natural architecture and uses only leather that is bi-product from other industries. Definitely a shoe brand to watch out for and that you would not feel too guilty wearing or splurging out on!
Lundsten is certainly making a name for herself as one of the most promising and talented shoe designers and even has shoe guru Manolo Blahnik in a spin, ‘I am captivated by her work. It is like nothing anybody is doing at the moment, exquisite, divine, perfect.‘
In the accessories section, luxury leather bag range Charlotte Vasberg created by the Central St Martin’s graduate, and Ignes bags were absolute finds.The latter offers customers the opportunity to customize a handbag to exact specifications by selecting design, leather, lining, hardware in addition to the option of name engraving inside. A very cool buy, especially for those fashionistas who pride themselves of individuality.
The clothing brands represented ran the gamut from high street to ready-to-wear – the Emporio Made in Italy stand was home to Vivienne Westwood, Ben de Lisi and Michael Kors whilst designer jean giveaways at the Miele stand caused a commotion. Miele’s competition offered visitors the opportunity to have a design created by Project Catwalk winner Jasper Garvida.
Nadia Lala of Nadia Lala Accessories
The general consensus from exhibitors was that although customers were understandably cautious (given the current economic climate) they were still there to shop and in the right place to pick up some unique one-off pieces.
The perfect end to a relaxing day of shopping (yes, relaxing and shopping….two words you never thought you would read) was the catwalk show. With the show theme being ‘Anyone Can Be An Icon’ we knew to expect looks with serious attitude and were not far wrong. To a soundtrack of Fela Kuti, Franz Ferdinand, Madonna and Empire of the Sun buyers saw everything from African queens and domestic goddesses to American idols and ethereal nudes. We saw sexy and erotic, an ironic twist on vintage and full force 80’s with each section just enough to leave us wanting more.
Finally, always on the lookout for new talent, I spotted New Zealand model Nicole Clulee after a long gruelling day of shows (and a 6am morning call), but despite her fatigue, she was happy to have been involved in the Fashion Weekend because as she put it, “It offers great runway experience and exposure.”
Nicole Clulee – all models were supplied by Models One
Catching up with Nicole after the shows….
Overall the London Fashion Weekend was really enjoyable, the tone of the day set by friendly staff, a well organised schedule and a nice diverse range of brands. The VIP lounge, exciting runway shows and fashion clinics were simply added bonuses.
For regular shoppers looking for a relaxed atmosphere in which to browse through one-offs, samples and designer pieces London Fashion Weekend is a great go to spot, you will not be disappointed.
Roll on September, we look forward to the next one.
By Samata Angel
Photos courtesy of Suky Rai