“I’ve never had a moment like this before. We were all around the studio TV watching updates until we found out the queen was dead, ”says Chet Lo, a 25-year-old London-based knitwear designer.
She will host her first solo show at London Fashion Week on Tuesday, and is one of many independent labels they couldn’t afford to cancel with two weeks left. “I have been given a lot of support, but the cost for the shows can be in the tens of thousands. You know when you get messed up at the end of the month and you think my next check will cover all of this, that’s the situation. When news of Her Majesty’s death broke last Thursday at 6:30 pm, shock and grief mingled with creeping fear as designers who spent six months preparing new collections realized that London Fashion Week, which held September 15-20, it would fall during the period of national mourning and the day of the queen’s funeral.
The hustle and bustle followed. Blockbuster names Raf Simons and Royal Warrant holder Burberry, whose entry into the program sparked great excitement in July, canceled their shows on Friday. As big-budget global brands, they have jeopardized London’s attraction for celebrity guests, supermodels, press and international buyers. Meanwhile, the British Fashion Council (BFC) has reached its Operation London Bridge floor.
Postponement altogether was a possibility. “Particularly in the first 24 hours, when the excitement around it was heightened and extremely raw,” says Caroline Rush, chief executive of the BFC. “But the plans we had in place state that London Fashion Week is a corporate event and will continue.”
All non-commercial events, from signature dinners to Kate Moss’s Diet Coke party, were urged to be canceled – “so that anything that might be perceived as disrespectful doesn’t have airtime,” says Rush – while the shows they should continue, following an updated schedule that sees Monday cleared for state funerals. The Union flags will fly at half mast and on Sunday at 8pm there will be a moment of silence before the fashion show of the Scottish designer Christopher Kane.
“It is so important that everyone looks after Fashion Week, even if in a respectful way,” says Kane, among whose clients is Catherine, the new Princess of Wales. “We are a small independent company and Fashion Week is how we sell our clothes to department stores. Let’s not forget that we are potentially heading into what could be the worst recession ever. “In 2019 Kane regained control of his company from the Kering conglomerate and this year is his first runway since the pandemic.” Fashion Week it takes place twice a year for most of the smaller LFW brands – it’s a case of success or failure if we don’t show up, “he says.
Eliminating champagne-soaked dinners and penthouse parties, some of which have been rearranged for October 6-13, brings London Fashion Week back to its center: a trade show for designers to sell and an engine for the economic contribution of fashion industry to the UK, which grossed £ 28.9 billion last year. London also faces three other fashion month players. As Rush points out, New York, Paris and Milan “seem to work 100% of the business. While being respectful, we want to make sure that our activities are able to continue and compete with those international competitors ”.
The message was clear: walk cautiously, but keep the catwalks.
“We’re going to do something truly adorable, in a modest way,” says Michael Halpern, who runs the sequin-encrusted party wear label Halpern, of his runway tribute to the queen. “It won’t be flashy, comical or over the top. It’s just a thank you, because I really mean it. The American designer, who moved to London as a student, adds: “I met the Queen a few years ago, when she met a couple of designers. She told me my clothes looked very expensive, and they are … It was a lot of fun. Oh, and wear the most spectacular jewelry she has ever seen. “
Halpern isn’t the only designer influenced by the queen, either in person or through her decades of fashion history, shrouded in the solid colors of her favorite couturiers, including Norman Hartnell and Hardy Amies. Plus, she won’t be the only one to pay her homage to her on the runway.
It was 2018 when HRH sat front row with Anna Wintour to view Richard Quinn’s collection, before handing him the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for Design. The designer, known for her explosive floral prints, made a nod to the country wardrobe when her models appeared wrapped in her signature veil. And while she won’t reveal what she’s scheduled, her Tuesday time slot at 7pm is the final show of fashion week. She expected to mark the moment with emotion, not least because of the pivotal role the queen has played in her career.
Another leading label, JW Anderson, confirmed that his show “will be more intimate and private than ever, presented to a small group of press, buyers, friends and family” and called on industry players to come together. “Now we must stand together and continue to create the incredible stories this city is known for.”
Last season’s Rixo presentation featured a champagne tower, but on Saturday, the founders of the floral and silky dress label Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McCloskey will dampen everything from music to décor and refreshments. There will also be a minute of silence and both will wear black. Following suit, David Koma, whose fans include Beyoncé and Serena Williams, plans to tweak his set and scoring for a small but punchy event. “I was absolutely devastated by Queen Elizabeth’s sudden death because she was an icon in many, many ways,” he says. “I was asked what my absolute dream to dress would be, and the first person that came to mind was always her.”
As the events begin tonight, some of the next generations of London Fashion Week are approaching with apprehension. Feben will be holding her debut show on Saturday night and caused a sensation with her exploration of darkness through clothing. As she continues to prepare her collection for her, she acknowledges the blow caused by the retirement of some of the industry’s heavyweights. “[It] it affects those of us who are not that high up in the fashion hierarchy. Sustainability is not just about clothes and fabrics, but who is around to show themselves, give space to others, lift people “.
The Y2K KNWLS label, led by Charlotte Knowles and known for dressing the likes of Bella Hadid in sheer corsets and tops, also understands the importance of the moment. “We are coming out of a few years of complete chaos, which has been very difficult. We’ve spent the past six months preparing for this and it’s the only event that drives the next six months, ”she says. “We are excited to do a show again, about the energy of people getting excited and coming from all over to connect with the brand.”
The overwhelming vibe sparked by the last week of rescheduling, however, was one of grim perseverance as the London fashion community got together. “‘Keep calm and carry on’ is a motto the queen was often associated with,” says Rejina Pyo, the South Korean designer who founded her stylish womenswear brand in 2014. “I thought that was exactly who I am. to do so, he would have liked the designers who had settled in Great Britain to continue to show their work. “
It’s a feeling that has been bouncing around in many rooms full of sewing machines in the last few days. Halpern agrees: “Cancellation is not what he would have wanted. He wanted people to be creative, to keep expressing themselves and to keep moving forward in their work. “