Back on the catwalk: live shows return at London Fashion Week

By: AFP      Published: 09:26 PM, 17 Sep, 2021
Back on the catwalk: live shows return at London Fashion Week
Models present creations from London-based Turkish designer Bora Aksu during a catwalk show for the Spring/Summer 2022 collection on the first day of London Fashion Week.

Catwalk shows resumed at London Fashion Week on Friday, after previous editions of the landmark industry event were forced online by the coronavirus pandemic.

The sight of models and audiences together again was a welcome sight for a country hoping to bounce back after lifting most restrictions in July.

A total of 28 shows are planned over five days, featuring 131 brands, including those from well-established designers such as Britain's Edward Crutchley and Serbia's Roksanda.

Irish designer Simone Rocha's brand is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

But there are two notable absentees: former Spice Girl turned fashion designer Victoria Beckham, and the luxury brand Burberry.

The designer Saul Nash, 28, opened proceedings on Friday morning with a sportswear collection exploring his adolescence in Hackney, northeast London.

Nash, who is also a dancer and choreographer, made freedom of movement at the centre of his fluid creations, with removable hoods and sleeves.

He revisited the staple of the British school uniform -- the short-sleeved shirt -- in breathable fabric with a zip for a chic, casual look.

On a tracksuit he used a distorted print of a childhood transport map.

In a completely different style, British designer Edward Crutchley's puffy dresses in aniseed green or floral prints showcased a touch of glamour in shimmering luxury fabrics. 

Emerging talent 

In February, London Fashion Week -- one of the big four international fashion weeks alongside Paris, New York and Milan -- was held entirely online, as the country was deep into a mid-winter virus lockdown.

Some designers this time round are preferring to present their latest creations by appointment only, or via videos on the Fashion Week platform.

US designer Michael Halpern, 32, unveiled a flamboyant collection of sequinned, feathered and draped gowns in a short film shot at the Royal Opera House, modelled by dancers who will be back before audiences next month after a break of over a year.

The London Fashion Council (LFC) said the September shows "mark the long-awaited cultural reopening of London and brings back the global fashion industry to the UK".

Among the emerging talents this year is London-based Albanian designer Nensi Dojaka, who is presenting her first ever show on Friday.

A graduate of the prestigious Central Saint Martins fashion school in London, the 27-year-old designer won the LVMH 2021 prize for young talent last week

Her black babydoll dresses with graphic details won over the jury. 

Bounce back 

Following on from New York and preceding Milan, London Fashion Week is dedicated to spring-summer 2022 collections and is intended to be "gender neutral". 

The British fashion industry, which employed around 890,000 people in 2019, is hoping to bounce back after suffering a slump during the global health crisis.

According to data from Oxford Economics for the Creative Industries Federation and Creative England, the sector could recover faster than the UK economy as a whole.

It estimated growth of more than 25 percent by 2025, which would contribute some £132.1 billion ($180 billion, 153 billion euros) to the UK economy -- more than £28 billion more than in 2020.

In July, Burberry announced that its first quarter sales had returned to pre-pandemic levels. However, sales in Europe continued to suffer from the lack of tourists. 

Last week, the London-based French designer Roland Mouret told the Financial Times it could take his brand five years to fully recover from the impact of the pandemic.