Fresh-faced London gears up for Fashion week

Thu Feb 16, 2012 2:20pm EST
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By Li-mei Hoang

LONDON (Reuters) - Fashion blogger Sasha Wilkins thinks that there has never been a better time for the eyes of her industry to turn their attention towards London.

Wilkins, who is the founder of the successful fashion blog and has covered London Fashion Week for more than 20 seasons, said she has never been more excited than she is for this Friday's kickoff of the autumn/winter 2012 season.

"We seem to have got to the point where London can properly take its place on the world stage," said Wilkins, who is also a former Wall Street Journal executive style editor. "We fully compete against Paris, New York and Milan now from every point of view."

The British capital is best known for its daring and bold designers and for promoting fresh young talent like Mary Katrantzou and Jonathan Saunders alongside established designers such as Paul Smith and Vivienne Westwood. But it has also suffered from a squeeze in the scheduling between the other fashion capitals.

London Fashion Week is big business for the industry and the UK economy, with an estimated 100 million pounds of orders placed during the event for each season, something designers who showcase their collections here understand well.

"Designers understand the business side of it, which is incredibly important and we have the most extraordinary creative talent," Wilkins said.

Judd Crane, director of Womenswear at luxury department store Selfridges, said he expects to see less established designers such as Katrantzou and Peter Pilotto create pieces that are not only inspiring and directional but also commercially successful.

"2012 is set to be a seminal year for British fashion," he said. "With the eyes of the world on London, it's an incredibly important opportunity for our design talent to show what great things they are capable of."   Continued...

A model presents a creation from the Julien MacDonald Fall/Winter 2011 collection at London Fashion Week, February 21, 2011.

REUTERS/Paul Hackett