London Fashion Week – Business As Usual

Fashion, it’s all about glamour isn’t it? Gorgeous girls in gorgeous dresses, air kisses and a rolling wave of fabulousness pervading the venues making up the celebration of haute couture and exquisite design

At London Fashion Week this weekend there have been collections by iconic figures such as Vivienne Westwood and Paul Smith, celebrities like Sienna Miller, and rumours of Naomi Campbell popping in. Surely being present at LFW is the paradigm of cool? Well, maybe, but try telling that to the people left sitting at their exhibition stalls at three o’clock in the afternoon with nothing to do but wait to see if anyone shows an interest in their wares.

Because like another festival, be it film, literary or fashion, this is not so much about the reflected glory of one’s creations but the hard world of business. Although this gathering of designers, buyers and commentators at the LFW exhibition are dressed much better than your average industry conference, they are as concerned with the same overriding aim: selling. For the majority of people at the Natural History Museum base, it is not so much about glamour and sophistication rather than meeting people, making contacts and getting one’s name out to a wider audience and a larger section of the industry.

This is why the exhibition stalls are so keenly manned, even when there seems to be no one around. Someone needs to be there at all times just in case a buyer shows an interest. With the economic downturn making those buyers ever-more conservative in their choices, extra efforts need to be made in order to persuade people that it might be worth taking a chance on new, exciting talent.

February might not be the most sensible time to be showcasing sunglasses, but Cutler and Gross seemed to be attracting a lot of attention for their unique eyewear designs. Their style is a homage to the effortless cool of Grace Kelly and seemed to make quite an impression. Other highlights included Jacey Withers’ jewellery which incorporated marine influences along with aspects of ancient Egypt.

On the catwalks, Armand Basi dazzled those gathered in the Saatchi gallery with his new collection. His choice of colours was quite restrained and muted. The dresses were loose fitting but elegant and displayed a choice confidence and originality.

Back in the BFC catwalk tent, the hot ticket was Jenny Packham’s 2009 autumn collection. Renowned for her bridal dresses that saw her win the 2008 British Bridal Dress Designer award, she returned with a sumptuous collection. Displaying a slight Hellenic influence, Packham kept her reputation for refined luxury. There might be an impecunious feel to this year’s London Fashion Week but Packham’s collection was a reminder of the allure that keeps people interested in the event.

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