Fashion

LFW Insider Interviews

Half of the fun of London Fashion Week is catching up with friends, watching the people go by and making new connections. We spoke to some of the industry’s longest serving fashion week veterans as well as some of our favourite bloggers about what they love about London Fashion Week.

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Get an industry insider’s view of everything LFW right here…

SUSANNA LAU AKA. STYLE BUBBLE

What is your favourite thing about London Fashion Week?

Seeing all the designers with different aesthetics show their collections and the excitement of seeing something new. It’s never predictable in London.What was your favourite London Fashion Week moment?S/S 12 Christopher Kane. It was such a moving show and a real turning point in his career too.

What was your very first London Fashion Week outfit?

A SS04 Balenciaga jacket with a DIY dress I think…

What was your favourite show you’ve ever seen and why?

Comme des Garcons AW12 – The Flat Collection. I just loved it so much and it was such a profoundly brilliant collection. The last Jil Sander collection Raf Simons did was also an amazing experience too – so moving.

Who is your favourite designer/personality spot at Fashion Week over the years?

Rei Kawakubo eating at Chez Omar in Paris. Or eating with Bill Cunningham in a janky Vietnamese take out place in Paris.

FRANCESCA BURNS – FASHION EDITOR, BRITISH VOGUE

What’s your best London Fashion Week memory?

Christopher Kane’s first collection in 2006. His parade of neon lace bandage dresses was monumental. It was like an electric shock to the fashion industry. It was thrilling and brilliant and I feel very lucky to have been there to see it.

What’s your top tip for an London Fashion Week newbie?

Check the schedule and plan ahead – it’s impossible to see everything so be realistic. Don’t forget to leave time to check out the stands at Somerset House as there are always exciting new designers to be discovered.

What was your favourite show you’ve ever attended and why?

When I was at college, I won a competition to attend Alexander McQueen’s spring summer 2001 fashion show. It was the first real fashion show I had ever attended and I haven’t seen anything like it ever since. This was the presentation of his VOSS collection. It was pure theatre – the audience was seated around a mirrored cube and as a total newcomer to the fashion world I was already overwhelmed by the reflection of the entire fashion industry before me. Then the lights went down and the box lit up – it resembled the padded cell of a mental institution.Kate Moss opened the show, gracefully staggering out, painted face, bandaged head in the most incredible dress as delicate and distressed as she was behaving.

More girls appeared, dressed in the most exquisite clothes – pressing their faces against the glass – trapped in their tortured world. In the centre oftheir cell was another large box with a naked voluptuous woman reclining on a bed with her face masked, breathing through a tube – it was astonishing,disturbing, beautiful, poignant – and the clothes, the clothes were incredible.Dancing between theatre and wearability. It was the most sensational show I’ve ever been to.

What are you most looking forward to about this LFW?

All of it. Christopher Kane is always surprising – he has a rare talent for doing something completely different season after season without ever losing ‘His Woman’. JW Anderson is another exceptional talent with a truly modern vision who, with backing from LVMH will no doubt be delivering an exciting collection. Meadham Kirchhoff really stand alone, their show is always a personal high point for me – always surprising always original and the craftsmanship of the clothing is absolutely second to none.

London Fashion Week is always a high point for me. It makes me very proud to be British.

KATE REARDON – EDITOR, TATLER

What’s your best LFW memory?

My best LFW memory is the first show I ever went to. I was about 17 and doing work experience at a designer called Alistair Blair, his show was the most thrilling moment of my life so far – it was entirely intoxicating and I couldn’t believe that people actually got paid to do this. I think I slept with the backstage pass for about a year.

What’s your top tip for an LFW newbie?

Look cool, because you WILL be judged on what you wear. But don’t go too far, there is a fine line between’hip’ and ‘moron’.

What was your favourite LFW outfit?

Anything that involves a car and driver.

What was your favourite show you’ve ever attended and why?

Pretty much any of theMcQueen shows for the goose-bump thrill of them. For some reason SS ’97 whenthe models walked on water sticks in my mind.

What are you most looking forward to about this LFW?

I look forward to the buzz of the thing, the feeling that we’re all getting a delicious inspiration top-up.

JO ELVIN – EDITOR, GLAMOUR MAGAZINE

What was your favourite fashion week moment?

A couple of season ago I took my seat in the front row representing Glamour but I also worked on a series of reports on the British fashion industry for Radio 4 and that provided my funniest moment. I was backstage at Henry Holland’s show to interview the man himself when his lovely PR, Daniel Marks, thrust Harry Styles in my face. I mean, that’s what happened – ‘Harry, meet Jo from Glamour and Radio 4’. It hadn’t occurred to me that I would get to interview the world’s most adored heartthrob for a serious show about the business of fashion, but somehow the two of us found our brains for around 270 seconds and had a nice chat. Obviously I was too professional to then stick the accompanying photos on Facebook*.(*no I wasn’t)

What’s your top tip for an LFW newbie?

Taken from my own hard-learned lessons. Don’t get hungry. Eat everything that’ s offered to you. Green and Black’s chocolate bars and Champagne at 9am? Sure. Because it’s highly possible that that’s all you’ll get until 9pm.

What was your favourite LFW outfit?

That is possibly one of the most difficult questions – particularly as, these days, London Fashion Week features all my favourite shows. Can I have two? Jonathan Saunders’ silk bomber jacket looks and Christopher Kane’s gorgeous lilac shift with the teardrop cut-outs. (Between you and me, my dream is that he would lend me that for this year’s Glamour Women of the Year Awards).

What’s your favourite show you’ve ever attended and why?

Gosh, there have been a few! One that still really stands out is when, a couple of years ago, Stella McCartney hosted a dinner/presentation. I was chatting away to this nice girl for dinner, who was looking amazing in her new collection Stella outfit. We were chatting and enjoying ourselves and then, half way through pudding, the music started and she suddenly threw her chair aside and got up and starting dancing in a perfectly choreographed routine with several other dinner guests. It was exhilarating and a really imaginative way to present a collection. It was all very London and maverick. I was blown away.

What are you most looking forward to about this LFW?

As the above demonstrates, something exciting and unexpected always happens. So I’m looking forward to the surprises. The British fashion industry is, at the moment, really having a golden age – we have some of the world’s most talented established designers and so many exciting emerging talents. For several seasons now, it’s been the most inspiring fashion city, so I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us this season.

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GUY HIPWELL – EDITOR OF FASHION156.COM

Describe London Fashion Week in 5 words?

The city where trends start.

What is your favourite London Fashion Week memory?

As a fashion student ‘persuading’ security to let us in to all the shows. They are much stricter now.

What is your most memorable show?

All the early Alexander McQueen London shows

What advice would you give to a London Fashion Week newbie?

Walk around the exhibition, sit in the courtyard at Somerset House with a coffee and watch everything happening all around you.Just soak it all up like a sponge. Finally if you do get to any shows, look around and realise how few people actually get to see the collections at such close proximity.

What can we expect to see from Fashion156 this London Fashion Week?

We will be covering the new and emerging, the smaller presentation that no editors go to as they have no time. But we also attend all the huge shows too. We are planning to cover over 100 shows and backstage so it is going to be hectic.

KRISTABEL PLUMMER – BLOGGER AT I WANT YOU TO KNOW

What is your favourite thing about LFW?

LFW is always an exciting time, the cobbles at Somerset House get taken over by some kind of parallel fashion universe and exciting trends are being revealed mere metres away. I get to catch up with like-minded blogger friends each season and I’m never really alone. Things never really go to plan but always work out for the better,resulting in unexpected invites and opportunities.

What was your favourite London Fashion Week moment?

Somehow I managed to wangle a front row seat at Ashish a few seasons ago and made the most of my location by getting some amazing shots. Most of the time I have a standing ticket, so end up crouched down by the catwalk or getting a sea of heads in shot on the 8th row. It was nice to be comfortable for once and to see how the other half live!

What was your very first London Fashion Week outfit?

I dressed a bit like an excitable youngster and wore a tartan blazer, peplum skirt and uncomfortable shoes. Although I loved all of those pieces at the time, it was a bit of a forced combination and gradually I’ve learned to dress as a more enhanced version of yourself. Each piece is a little bit special but comfort and practicality is a necessity.

What was your favourite show you’ve ever seen and why?

It would definitely have to be Mulberry. They create a total fashion show experience from the extravagant sets even down to the interactive invitations (the rubber ring of SS12 is still going strong) plus amazing food and drink is always served. As expected, I always end up coveting the bags and the clothing manages to channel a different British quirk each season. I remember going to the after party one year, with a performance by Hurts and seaside arcade games where you could win a souvenir teddy bear. Unfortunately I was unsuccessful but I did end up with a bundle of animal balloons on the night bus home…

Who is your favourite designer/personality spot at Fashion Week over the years?

I got a great shot of Carine Roitfeld and her daughter Julia Restoin-Roitfeld both working leopard print back in 2010. The closest I’ve got to Anna Wintour is seeing the back of her head at Meadham Kirchhoff!

SEB LAW – BLOGGER AT THE STAPLE

What’s your favourite thing about LFW?

My favourite thing about LFW (shows and designers aside) is the courtyard. Perversely, as the courtyard becomes more and more of a public space, it fills with the kind of creative dressers, fashion students and crazy bloggers that love fashion so much that they will create the most insane outfits and queue for hours in the hopes of getting a standing ticket for a less well-known designer show while editors breeze straight past. These people, though they may be numerous and seemingly there just to be seen, are the lifeblood of LFW – they are what makes London different to all other fashion weeks – unbridled fashion creativity.

What was your favourite London Fashion Week moment?

There have been SO many! It’s usually arriving on the first day and thinking ‘here we go again’ and then leaving on the last day and thinking ‘what a fantastic 5 days’. My favourite little moments over the week are seeing friends that I only see at LFW and catching up on their lives.

What was your very first London Fashion Week outfit?

My first LFW outfit was when I attended just for the day to accompany a mate of mine. I wore a white pleated shirt from B-Store, a heart-print cummerbund, narrow selvedge Acne jeans and silver B store shoes. I thought I looked awesome, but I was FREEZING. And we only saw one show. That was years ago – now I dress for practicality: trainers all the way!

What was your favourite show you’ve ever seen and why?

Fave show was sitting behind Anna Wintour at the McQ show a few seasons ago. McQ is a somewhat-hackneyed fashion editor’s reference, but the AW12 show was a mastery of drama, creation and perfect clothing -a show in every sense of the word.

Who is your favourite designer/personality spot at Fashion Week over the years?

Celebs aren’t always that prevalent at LFW, but from last season at womenswear, it was probably P’Trique (of ‘Shit Fashion Bloggers Say’ fame). We were all sat on the front row at Eugene Lin – fashion eating itself! LFW is all about those ridiculous moments for me

NGONI R CHIKWENENGERE – BLOGGER AT I AM NRC

What’s your favourite thing about LFW?

My favourite thing about LFW is the entire vibe around it from seeing next seasons’ clothes and beauty trends early, networking and meeting up with fashion industry friends.

What was your favourite London Fashion Week moment?

My favourite LFW moment has got to be the time Jimmy Choo told me he liked my shoes (they were Topshop!). And when the other bloggers and I are working and chatting about our day is always funny there is always so much LFW gossip!

What was your favourite London Fashion Week outfit?

My favourite LFW outfit has got to be this one!

What was your favourite show you’ve ever seen and why?

The best show I have ever seen has got to be my first Mary Katrantzou show which was the S/S12 show, everything was just perfect, the prints, the models even the make up was fabulous.

Who is your favourite designer/personality spot at Fashion Week over the years?

Jimmy Choo again this was 4 or 5 seasons ago, I actually bumped into him said sorry and we had a little chat and he was just the sweetest designer I’ve encountered in fashion.

REENA RAI – BLOGGER AT FASHION DAYDREAMS

What’s your favourite thing about LFW?

Definitely discovering new, emerging designers. The London fashion scene really knows how to spot and nurture new talent, there’s nothing quite like discovering a young designer on the cusp of breaking through the industry. The collections in London tend to be much more unpolished and creative than the other fashion weeks which always makes spotting raw talent that much more exciting.

What was your favourite London Fashion Week moment?

Probably the last show! Despite all the excitement, fashion week is super tiring. I usually only get a couple of hours sleep a night after spending 12 hours at fashion week then trying to edit pictures and write up so I’m always looking forward to the end so I can spend some quality time with my bed. Having said that, it’s always great catching up with friends and seeing the collections.

What was your very first London Fashion Week outfit?

I’m not sure this is something I want to relive! Thankfully it wasn’t too bad, it was a vintage black velvet dress with electric blue detailing on the top. Very simple and a far cry from some of the outlandish outfits around Somerset House during fashion week.

What was your favourite show you’ve ever seen and why?

This is such a hard question! I’m going to pick a presentation rather than an actual show; Alexander McQueen’s autumn/winter 2010 collection. It was the last collection he completed before he passed away so incredibly poignant and beautifully exquisite. Even now, seeing the pieces leaves a lump in my throat. McQueen had a knack for blurring the lines between fashion and art like no other and the industry is still feeling his loss.

Who is your favourite designer/personality spot at Fashion Week over the years?

Definitely Carine Roitfeld, she’s my style crush. She is absolute perfection!

Interviews by Clare Potts. Images by Alex Green.



Clare Potts

Clare Potts

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