Fashion

London Fashion Week Insider Interviews

Kate Phelan, Fran Burns & Lucinda Chambers

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.

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

FRANCESCA BURNS – Fashion Editor, British Vogue

What’s your best LFW 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 LFW 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 abed 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’veever been to.

What are you most looking forward to about this LFW?

All ofit. Christopher Kane is always surprising – he has a rare talent for doingsomething completely different season after season without ever losing’His Woman’. JW Anderson is another exceptional talent with a trulymodern vision who, with new backing from LVMH will no doubt be delivering anexciting 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.

Marques Almeida and Ashley Williams are my two ‘Ones to Watch’ – I am a big fan of Marque sAlmeida’s raw 90s sensibility. They already have a cult following and withoutdoubt on the day of their show you will see their fans out in full force.Ashley Williams is in her third season with Fashion East and has a fun, sexy and colourful aesthetic thatalways puts a smile on your face. London Fashion Week is always a high pointfor me. It makes me very proud to be British.

KATE REARDON – Editor, Tatler

What’s your best LFW memory?

My best LFW memory is thefirst show I ever went to. I was about 17 and doing workexperience at a designer called Alistair Blair, his show was the most thrillingmoment of my life so far – it was entirely intoxicatingand 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

Favourite fashion week moment:

Last season 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.

carrie harwood

CARRIE HARWOOD – Blogger, Wish Wish Wish

What’s your best LFW memory?

I think any time I’ve been backstage has been particularly memorable. I loved shooting behind-the-scenes at Charles Anastase many seasons ago, it was bustling and full of energy and I came away with shots I was so happy with. Not bad as I was still a university student in my second year!

What’s your top tip for an LFW newbie?

Don’t try and fit everything in – you’re not going to be able to cover it all! I know all those invites look impressive on Instagram, but stick to the shows you’re really passionate about if you’re there to blog.

What was your favourite LFW outfit?

Eek!I can’t even remember. Any outfit that I was particularly comfortable in.Shooting streetstyle on those cobbles (and often in the rain) requires a pairof sensible shoes!

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

Each season I’m totally in love with the presentations that the team at Orla Kiely put on. They are magic! Being able to see the new collection up close and in Orla’s universe makes it totally unrivalled for me. I’m a big fan.

What are you most looking forward to about this London Fashion Week?

I know this isn’t anything to do with fashion at all, but being able to catch up with friends that you only ever seem to see outside the tents at Somerset house- that’s my favourite!

STEPHANIE TOMS – Blogger, Coco Chic

What’s your best LFW memory?

Probably the first time I went to the Burberry Prorsum show. The entire show was completely off my budget and completely not my style, but the atmosphere beat any other show.

What’s your top tip for an LFW newbie?

Keep calm! Fashion Week is fun but it’s also really stressful at times, so make sure you plan your every move ahead of time – there’s nothing worse than rushing to shows in a panic.

What was your favourite LFW outfit?

I hate looking back on things – I always wonder what on earth I was thinking when I put that outfit together, so my favourite outfit is probably one that I’ll come up with this season. But chances are I’ll hate it this time next year!

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

The Burberry show was definitely a high point, but I always love seeing Topshop Unique – I guess because it’s more my style (and more affordable!)

What are you most looking forward to about this London Fashion Week?

I’m looking forward to seeing old friends! A lot of my friends work in the industry so it’s hard to see each other often, but when Fashion Week comes about we’re practically inseparable!

PAULA HOLMES – Blogger, P-Ho Diaries 

What’s your best LFW memory?

For me, I had always read about LFW in magazines and never actually been myself. So when I ventured down to Somerset House it was the mass of people, bloggers, press and everyone else in between that made it a memorable experience for me.There is such a buzz around LFW that you just can’t get away from, I love it!

What’s your top tip for an LFW newbie?

One thing many bloggers do not know is that you do not have to be an accredited blogger to attend. You can still go down to the courtyard at Somerset house and check out the street style, plus there are plenty events going on from brands that you can go to as well. I wouldn’t be afraid to approach a PR for a ticket to a show, if you don’t ask you don’t get is my motto.

What was your favourite LFW outfit?

I always love what Olivia Palermo wears to the shows, she looks so effortlessly chic.

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

It would have to be Twenty8Twelve, it was the first show I ever went to, before I even started The P-Ho Diaries and I’ll never forget it for that. I couldn’tbelieve how quickly it was over.

What are you most looking forward to about this London Fashion Week? 

I can’t wait to see the new collection from Ashley Williams at the Fashion East show. She is definitely one of my favourite up and coming British designers and I’m excited to see what she produces this season.

kenzo two piece

MILLIE COTTONBlogger, It’s a LDN Thing

What is your best LFW memory?

Lastseason Mawi threw a closing party at Le Baron, where Jamie XX dj-ed. He’s oneof my favourite DJs and to see him in what was a very intimate space was crazy.I was with a couple of friends – we met some great people and had such a gooddance until the early hours of the morning.

What’s your top tip for an LFW newbie?

LFWis really overwhelming and the fashion crowd can be a little intimidating atfirst. My advice is just to be nice to people! Everyone is stressed out and alittle nice can go along way during the five days

What was your favourite LFW outfit?

Iwore a Kenzo two-piece with a small Mulberry Willow bag to the Mulberry showlast season, which has got to be my favourite. I blew all of my food allowance for a couple of months on that outfit!

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

Ashish is always a winner every season but my ultimate show has to be the Burberry show a few seasons back where a screen raised half way through to reveal Tom Odell playing at a grand piano behind the catwalk. It made me shiver! Theperformance was stunning.

What are you most looking forward to about this London Fashion Week?

Every season I hang out with a lot of blogger friends who I don’t see that often at The Apartment – that’s always a lot of fun. Otherwise, my favorite part is theshows themselves. It’s such a privilege to be invited to watch the new collections and I love every second of it.

SHOP THE WOMEN’S SS14 COLLECTIONS >>>

SHOP THE MEN’S SS14 COLLECTIONS >>>

Images property of Vogue and Carrie Harwood



Clare Potts

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