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OPINION - Half my friends seem to be running the arts industry — and London Fashion Week has never looked better

 (Dave Benett)
(Dave Benett)

I’m not being funny but… how amazing has it been celebrating 40 years of London Fashion Week? It was so refreshing for London not to have a paid front row at every f***ing show. This fashion week has really proven you don’t need big celebrities to show off in order to sell your clothing.

With major celebs in the front row seats not taking up all the headlines, the fashion itself spoke for what the capital had to offer this season. It’s well known that designers tend to show in whatever city they see fit, which means we go in cycles of having some of the most established brands moving away from and then back into London.

Well, the British Fashion Council has done a tremendous job this year — showcasing both the most established and innovative labels this city has to offer. While a number of important British designers chose to show in Paris and Milan these past few years, one constant London can rely on is being at the forefront of promoting talented young creators.

From the very early days of LFW, with trailblazing designers like Katharine Hamnett, to the unbelievable mastery of McQueen, to more recent Central Saint Martins graduate Chet Lo, we’ve seen some truly epic shows over the years and this season is no different.

I met most of my friends through our mutual love for the arts and now years later half of them run the industry

The CEO of the British Fashion Council, Caroline Rush, told it to me best: “It’s been an incredible five days — what a way to kick off our 40th anniversary. The creativity and innovation we’ve seen this season is inspirational. Collections designed with purpose are a true reflection of London and position the diverse creative community on the world stage.”

London has a rich history of going against the grain. Punks, New Romantics, original club kids and other tribes have been born over the years through the desire to redefine not only what fashion means but also the idea of community. Fashion has influenced music, which influenced film, which influenced art and thus the ripple effect created bonds and shaped Londoners with an identity that not many other cities can claim to have done.

I met most of my friends because of our mutual love for the arts and now all these years later half of them run the industry. It’s funny, it’s almost as if we were all attracted to each other’s creativity. We don’t really have tribes the way we used to, but the desire to innovate is still strong and it’s been fantastic to see the British Fashion Council supporting young talent the way it has. I wish established fashion publications took a leaf out of, say, Perfect magazine’s book and truly supported up-and-coming talent, bringing it to a wider audience as is deserved. Designers like Jawara Alleyne, Susan Fang and Feben are deserving of more recognition and the world needs to know their names.

We’re definitely in a wonderfully creative time right now. JW Anderson and Erdem prove the industry veterans still very much have their fingers on the pulse with fantastic showings in London. Richard Quinn has presented brilliant collections for a number of seasons now. I even hear Kim Jones could be bringing a Dior show to London, an incredibly exciting and bold decision for him to make. It’s always so great to see such incredible variety — the diversity really drawing a parallel with the great diversity of London. The only critique I’d have, which I touched on earlier, is press coverage. The premiere of Dune: Part Two got more fashion editorial than LFW last week! While the press has plenty of space for negative news stories, it doesn’t quite do enough to support what actually makes London so great.

Galliano presented one of the most strikingly beautiful collections I’ve ever seen in Paris the other week and it truly took social media by storm. I just wish the likes of Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar stepped it up and supported young designers more.

It would be beneficial not just for the industry and designers but also the reader. We live in a time where elitism in fashion no longer works. People would be so much more responsive to seeing an industry that reflects where we’re at as individuals.

Other than that — all I can say is, happy 40th London Fashion Week. What a way to celebrate.

Track of the week: In Fashion — KDA & Jonbers.

Fat Tony is a DJ and best-selling author