The surface perception cast over fashion as a concept, an ideal or an enterprise can often be left confused. Its close guarded show doors and casting curtains reveal sequins and stilettos, and for some, not much else. London Fashion Week as the industry pedestal of showcase can, however, be a prejudged parade. Like most creative ventures, it’s the connotations built and celebrated by the event that establishes its cultural significance.
In its title as London Fashion Week, this bizarre but in measure bedazzling spectacle is explained as a clothing trade show, running like clockwork twice a year in September and February. Lasting usually five days and cemented amongst the fashion month block of ballistic chaos, this circus show for the unassuming or just the plain uninterested is strange, intrusive and most undoubtedly just very weird. Beginning in 1983 and organised by the British Fashion Council, London Fashion Week is of course in open honest voice a commercial conveyer belt. Buyers and makers tussle, the press go crazed in the pit, and starts align to create a revolving door of who’s who in the capital. By numbers, this conveyer belt serves the city and the taxpayer well, building for the British Fashion Industry to supply a twenty-six-billion-pound direct contribution to the UK economy in 2014, a figure up five billion from 2009, and double that of the car industries contribution, according to Oxford Economics. With behind the scenes values, perhaps only once sitting back from the front row do the underlying triumphs within this framework of fabric and fabulousness begin to expose themselves.
Like all successful and enduring cultural events, to spark conversation in all directions is socially vital, and having to talk the talk as well as walk the walk is something inherent in Fashion Week’s procedure. London Fashion Week is a stage for clothes to be effortlessly presented in often elaborate, deeply creative and conceptual ways, all underpinned by a statement that is often least of all about the clothes themselves. From the ranks of Westwood who questioned conformity and femininity, to McQueen who presented fetishism and sexuality in brave new ways, the designers of today continue to unpluck the social codes that surround us. This week Burberry reinvented in an eccentric tour of modern day British identity presenting and welcoming gender fluidity, while Ashley Williams gave boost to the fashion diversity debate, diversifying size, colour and race on the runway.
Photo Credit: Vogue on Ashley Williams
Upon the global stage, London Fashion Week is a cultural candidate with power, voice and influence. The fashion system has been rewired through the inescapable dominance of social media, and where embraced, this forms conversation and collective to reflect the ideas and ideals of a society and a city at a specific time. As plastic reworked trench coats and knitted tanks wonder down walkways this week, an entire mood of a nation is signified. In perfect illustration of this, in June last year at LCM: Men’s Fashion Week, London designer Liam Hodges released his Dystopia Lives range, in a commentary that was above asking you whether his co-ordinating tracksuits were good enough for the season. Hodges drew inspiration from poet Hector Aponysus’s famous line, “Looking for a vocation in the decline of civilisation.” This saw jackets supporting statements ‘I’m ok’ gesturing towards the questioned effectiveness of mental health support in the UK, and ‘ideology is a myth’ in acknowledgement of the global political dividing tensions.
Photo Credit: Vogue on Liam Hodges
Therefore, if going by the notion of art critic John Berger, and everything does indeed adopt its own ‘Ways of Seeing’ can London Fashion Week be seen from other dimensions as more than popstar parties and tormenting tulle escapades of brilliance? Accepting the glitz and the glamour, London Fashion Week also brings forward message through a metaphorical megaphone. Bringing emerging designers through the ranks via talent scout programs such as New Gen, a platform is given to countless creatives to have their say on everything, possibly least of all clothes.
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