FLANNELS THINKS: ICONIC MOMENTS FROM 40 YEARS OF LONDON FASHION WEEK

FLANNELS THINKS: ICONIC MOMENTS FROM 40 YEARS OF LONDON FASHION WEEK

FLANNELS THINKS:

ICONIC MOMENTS FROM 40 YEARS OF LONDON FASHION WEEK

Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell. That robot-decorated dress. The influence of scuba diving... Fashion journalist Odunayo Ojo celebrates four decades in the capital.

WORDS: Odunayo Ojo, IMAGES: GETTY, GRAPHICS: HOLLIE MAE HOMAN Photographer: JANE DOE

From the story of its inception to the moments that have cemented London as one of the big four, fashion journalist Odunayo Ojo, aka Fashion Roadman, looks back as London Fashion Week turns 40.

Radical, daring, cheeky and disruptive. These are words that are commonly used to describe the fashion landscape in London. The city has always been a hub for creative expression, fostering many subcultures and producing legendary designers. Mary Quant brought space-age designs and miniskirts to the swinging ‘60s. And Vivienne Westwood was a pioneer in the ‘70s punk movement.

Today, London is considered one of the “Big Four” fashion capitals, alongside Milan, New York and Paris. However, it sets itself apart as a platform for designers to display unrestricted rebellion, humour and expression through their work, giving it a reputation as a place where lines between commerce and art are obscured.

Many fashion designers held high profile shows in the city and claim to have started London Fashion Week. However, London Fashion Week as we know it today was created by the BFC (British Fashion Council) in March 1984, a year after the council was created in 1983. The BFC was formed to organise and coordinate the promotion of fashion weeks in the UK.

It was here that John Galliano showcased his famous French Revolution inspired “Les Incroyables” graduate collection at the first edition of London Fashion Week (then named the British Designer Show) held at Olympia. It also featured other household names, such as Betty Jackson and Body Map.

As London Fashion Week celebrates an impressive 40 years, we look back at some of the moments that are etched in the word-of-mouth LFW hall of fame.

Stella McCartney Graduate Collection (1995)

One of the most famous model line ups ever seen on the runway of a graduate collection happened in 1995 when Stella McCartney convinced her friends Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Yasmin Le Bon to walk for her show. It was a hit with the press for all the right and wrong reasons. Some people lauded it as a fashion moment, supermodels helping to amplify the platform of an emerging designer. Others exclaimed that she was using her influence to throw her wealth and connections in the face of her peers. Stella McCartney herself has since said in an interview with the BBC in 2017 that when she looks back on the moment, she's slightly embarrassed about it…

Alexander McQueen SPRING SUMMER 99

Lee Alexander McQueen is your favourite designers’, favourite designer. A working-class boy from Lewisham who spent years mastering the art of crafting clothes and pushed through his circumstances to become one of the greatest fashion designers of all time. His Spring/Summer 99 collection, titled No.13 due to it being his 13th show, was a tribute to the late Victorian Arts and Crafts Movement. Despite the intricate levels of design that went into the collection, from the tiered lace skirts and handcrafted prosthetic legs worn by Aimee Mullins challenging societal standards of beauty to leather bodices which evoked strength and protection, what people remember from this show is the final look. In the finale, Shalom Harlow emerged in a strapless white dress and stepped onto a rotating platform before robotic arms usually used to paint cars sprayed the dress in different shades of paint. It was akin to performance art.

Chalayan AUTUMN/WINTER 00

Hussein Chalayan is a storyteller, using clothes as his medium to speak. His Avant Garde approach lent itself well to creating iconic shows across many London Fashion Week seasons that left people in awe. In his Autumn/Winter 00 show, a model stepped into the middle of what appeared to be a wooden coffee table as the audience watched on, confused. As time progressed and the model adjusted the table it slowly started to unveil as a telescope shaped dress. It was a very complex commentary on restriction and movement. This runway show is widely considered one of the best fashion shows of all time.

Alexander McQueen SPRING SUMMER 01

Voss is one of McQueen’s most renowned shows and for good reason. The collection was a celebration of nature, and its title “Voss” was named after a Norwegian town known for its beautiful nature landscape and wildlife. The haute couture level construction came in the form of heavily feathered skirts as an ode to his love of birds. Bodices, skirts and dresses were constructed from mussel and oyster shells. A specific dress comprised of red dyed ostrich feathers to represent blood from beneath the skin. However, the moment that would move some of the audience members to tears did not come until the finale. Just as people thought the show was over, a model in a glass box room wore a breathing mask with tubes attached to the body, lying down in the middle. Heart monitor sounds beeped across the room until the heartbeat sound flatlined and the sides of the box fell and smashed onto the ground revealing the body of an overweight woman and with moths flying everywhere. Moths are typically seen as an ugly version of a butterfly and larger women are not represented in media as the standard of beauty. It was another way McQueen challenged beauty standards and notions of what the status quo should look like, but in a way that only McQueen can.

JW Anderson AUTUMN WINTER 13

Jonathan Anderson’s work has always blurred lines, challenging traditional notions of gender and why we dress the way we do. In his Autumn/Winter 13 collection he took traditionally masculine silhouettes and slightly modified the shapes to force the audience to question what exactly constitutes menswear. This was done by adding ruffles to the end of boots and shorts, shortening hem lines, and adding pleats to push the boundaries of what can be considered traditional menswear. The collection is still considered one of the most polarising shows at London Fashion Week and it’s an idea he revisited in his Moncler Genius Autumn/Winter 20 collection.

Craig Green AUTUMN WINTER 17

Inspired by fear of the unknown, Craig Green’s Autumn/Winter 17 collection explored the idea of scuba diving and the vastness of the sea. Green’s work has always been a study of uniforms, their functionality and how we interact with them. In this case, the uniforms came in the form of Scuba jackets, coats made of Persian rugs and fisherman-themed garments. The Scuba jackets from this collection are some of the most coveted pieces in menswear and the show constantly features across menswear forums on reddit and discord.

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