MAKING LONDON FASHION WEEK

What, when, where

Baffled by LFW? Here’s a quick guide to what it is, and how it has evolved over the years.

London Fashion Week was first launched in 1983. It quickly became one of the ‘Big Four’ fashion weeks (also including New York, Paris, and Milan) that take place twice a year: once for the Autumn/Winter season, and once for the Spring/Summer season.

In case you’re wondering why this is the A/W 18 issue, given that we’re currently in February, it’s because the shows run ahead of the seasons. Although that may be something that changes in future, given that some brands are already experimenting with showing during the correct season. It’s all to do with selling the clothes – the idea being that retailers order their stock, and by the time it finally hits the shelves, the season is appropriate. These days, though, online retail means there isn’t much need for a wait.

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Right after LFW finishes, London Fashion Week Festival begins – previously known as London Fashion Weekend. This event is for the public, not press and buyers, and is more commercialised.

Still with us? Next comes London Fashion Week Men’s. It takes place a little before LFW – we covered it in our last issue – and features menswear. It used to be called London Collections: Men until this year.

Things don’t stay the same. LFW is ever changing and evolving. When it first began, you could only attend the events in person or see the photographs in magazines and newspapers the next day.

From 2010, LFW began streaming live online, with viewers around the world tuning in to watch catwalks at Somerset House. While the BFC space is now the home of many of the catwalks rather than Somerset House itself, the setup remains the same.

With Instagram, Snapchat, and the advent of live streaming came the opportunity for those in the front row to broadcast what they were seeing to the rest of the world. Now, you can almost be there yourself from your bedroom – so long as you follow the right people.

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Don’t imagine that it’s all in one place – or that it’s all in the official schedule. There’s on-schedule – the shows that are listed by the BFC and selected for the prime spots and locations – and there’s off-schedule. These shows tend to come from up and coming designers, whose looks you might be coveting in years to come.

As for the locations, these can be as diverse as you can imagine. A fashion brand can hire just about anywhere for their catwalk or their presentation – it’s all down to what the designer feels will go with their theme.

That’s why you will see such a range of variation in our images. From a hotel to a house, from a dedicated show space to a repurposed restaurant with the tables cleared away, anything goes. A little set dressing, some hired lighting, and it’s all ready to go.

So, when you get your tickets for the next LFW, pay special attention to those whose location is listed only as “see invite”. You could be heading out just about anywhere.

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Image credits: Simon King; Philafrenzy; Julian Stallabrass

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