Well London Fashion Week September 2007 has wrapped up. It was for me as usual a bit of a hectic time. There is NEVER enough time to see everything and because of the dismal US economy vs. the power of the Pound (sterling) there isn't even close to enough money to buy all I would like for the shop - c'est la vie....maybe when things change in the Whitehouse I may have more buying power in the future - or I may go permanently out of business , but I figure I'll jump off that London Bridge when I get to it.
Sadly, London Fashion week is a bit like the bastard step-child of the fashion week circuit with New York and Paris taking the glory and prestige again and again. A bit to be expected really - and for me personally the lack of complete rubbish pretension is one of the things I have always enjoyed. The ability to see some of the beauty and talent without the put-on celebrity filled glamour and glitz that is at times seemingly so forced. I do understand (and support) the LFW's desire to raise the image of London and I do feel it is due for some recognition as there are so many amazing designers that hail from this city.
This particular Fashion Week saw some increase in status and prestige across the board. This is the first time I have seen and heard of more then a handful of "American Celebrities". The Matthew Williamson show had a special performance by none other then Prince. Antoni and Allison debuted their collection modelled by Nicole Kidman. None other then Anna Wintour decided to grace the city with her presence, apparently to view the Gareth Pugh catwalk show - which is a continual hot ticket despite him never once selling a ready-to-wear line in his history of being a designer, however her presence would in fact account for the amazingly pretentious attempt of a red-carpet gala for the international buyers party - which was an obvious attempt to mimic a NYC Fashion Week party complete with stick thin glamazon models manning the door with the force of RFA trained solders.
Sadly the budget uses to attempt to raise the image of the event left a few things lacking. Of course some of my favorite and most talented vendors were still showing at the exhibition, such as Laura Tabor, Babbette Wasserman and Wendy Pickard of The Branch, as well as Anne Luoise Roswald and Lou Lou and Law. The rest of the Exhibition was rather unexciting to me this year. I walked away with beautiful collections from my established designers but sadly do not have all the much new to bring home to my customers. Every time I would see a line that even sparked the slightest interest - I would discover they wanted 75pounds Wholesale for a piece of gold PLATED jewelry that didn't in my opinion warrant a $75 wholesale price tag.
Of course our economy in the US doesn't help matters in my attempt to support and import U.K. based designers - and while I can't blame them for our Whitehouse vs. their strong economy - you would think in the obvious desperation of these labels and lines to increase visibility in the US market they MIGHT work with you on their prices, but alas no. It is the established and continually growing mid-luxury lines that thankfully I have already sourced and been carrying for the past few seasons who understand the value of working with their American buyers. In my opinion the London Fashion Forum should step in and either educate or assist these small designers in this arena - because you can throw all the VIP parties you want and have runway shows from one end of London to the other for a week - but if the American buyer can't justify the prices being set - then parties or not, London Fashion Week will never become the powerhouse they are attempting to be. I still love it here and love attending LFW - I just hope in it's attempt to raise the profile it doesn't destory itself.
I also pray the pound and the dollar find a way to play nicer together in the schoolyeard - or Brick Lane may not be able to continue to be the staunch supporter of British Fashon that it was founded on. Time will tell - and meanwhile it's back to LA for me.