London Fashion Week: An Integral Part Of The New Season:

When is the start of the “real new year” ?  The answer depends to some extent on what calendar you happen to be using. Under the “Gregorian” system – the “de facto international civil standard”, whose name originates from the decree issued by Pope Gregory X111 in 1582 – it’s of course January 1st. For the Chinese, however, it coincides with the new moon of the first lunar month, which can take place any time from 21st January –21st February. There’s a very wide range of other global permutations:  In many areas of India, for example, the date each year for “Nava Varsha” is somewhere between March-April and in Iran “Nowruz” is celebrated on either the 20th or 21st March. Because the Muslim timetable is based on twelve lunar months (364 days), “1 Muharram” tends to occur about eleven days earlier than its Gregorian counterpart. An added complication is that although in Western countries and Latin America, it is currently the year 2011, that doesn’t apply everywhere around the world. According to the Buddhist calendar, it’s now the year “2555”; the Armenian (1460); Burmese (1373); Korean (4344); Islamic (1432-1433). Meanwhile, for the “Shine.Yahoo” website, September (not January) is really the month which provides the feeling of a “new beginning” and the incentive for “getting organized, making plans and setting goals”. It’s when, as one contributor has noted, “schools start, classes begin, the leaves turn and the scents change”. In the UK, it’s the moment when many people who have been on their annual leave are adjusting to being back at work – if that is, they could afford a break and were confident they’d have a job to come back to.

A survey conducted by Monarch Airlines has indicated that about 58% of“workaholic Britons” take 30 minutes or less for their lunch break and  that 11% of them never go on holiday. The Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) has revealed that 40% of managers who do go on holiday “return stressed” because they’ve been responding to e-mails and taking phone calls. Research by the IFF Agency has concluded that one in eight bosses “don’t leave their desks for a summer break”. In the opinion of Professor Cary Cooper, Lancaster University’s workplace health expert, as reported in the “Daily Mail”, the problem “has mushroomed with the spread of wireless hotspots…people simply shouldn’t take their laptops on holiday with them”. He would probably acknowledge that this isn’t usually an option available to today’s political leaders: They have to stay in contact and even rush back home in the event of a crisis – as did Prime Minister David Cameron, who was in Tuscany when the riots broke out in London and across England at the beginning of August. The official “first day back at work” for MPs (Members of Parliament) who are not also Cabinet Ministers was 6th September – though the House of Commons has gone into brief recess from 16th September-11th October while the main political parties gather for their annual conferences: The Liberal Democrats (17th – 21st September, Birmingham); Labour (25th-29th September, Liverpool); Conservatives (2nd-5th October, Manchester). Meanwhile, the Barclays Football Premiership kicked off again during the weekend of August 13th/14th (too early for many fans who were still away), Dr Who returned to BBC TV screens on 27th August (albeit with an estimated 5 million viewers compared to the previous average of 7.2 million) and the topical televised debate programme “Question Time” on 8th September. Primary & secondary schools have already re-opened and the new Academic Year 2011/12 will get under way at most universities either by the end of this month or on the 3rd October. This week (September 19th-23rd), thousands of Londoners will be enrolling for evening classes. Among the courses in particular demand are (confirms “Hotcourses Magazine”) baking, plumbing, cookery, manicuring, photography ,carpentry, bricklaying, hairdressing, welding, beauty therapy, Spanish, Italian and English.

Amid this flurry of autumn activity, London Fashion Week (LFW) was inaugurated on 16th September by London Mayor Boris Johnson – who (as Jess Cartner-Morley, the “Guardian’s” fashion correspondent noted in her column the following day) has been described by CQ Magazine as Britain’s “fourth worst-dressed man” and “stood little chance of wowing the fashion crowd with his dress sense”. He concluded his “rambling” speech by “congratulating them on the £21 billion that fashion contributes to the British economy”, followed by British Fashion Council (BFC) Chairman Harold Tillman’s exhortation that “In 2012,the eyes of the world will be upon us –we want to show the world that Britain is the leading force in the global creative sphere”.  “The Independent” pointed out that LFW doesn’t in fact last a whole week but instead ends on Wednesday 21st September with a“ menswear-focused day” featuring (among others) presentations and catwalk shows by fashion companies such as Aquascutum, Topman and Hardy Amies. The Independent’s recommended “hot tickets” included famous names such as Vivienne Westwood and John Rocha, the “street-couturier” Giles Deacon, the “international super-brand Burberry” and the Scottish designer Christopher Kane – who (in the words of a rapturous Sunday Times preview) “burst onto the scene with bodycom neons in 2006” and has “plenty to keep the fashion crowd on the edge of their seats”. Cartner-Morley expressed some concern as to which of her own clothes she should choose for attending catwalks (“If you cover fashion for a living, you can’t very well pretend that what you wear doesn’t matter”), likewise her colleague Imogen Fox (“Fashion shows can be hot and squashy places to work in”). It’s certainly sometimes the case that the outfits of those attending a catwalk can be as imaginative and daring (and thus attract more media attention) than those displayed by the models they have come to see.

The London Evening Standard seemed somewhat unconvinced by Paul Costelloe’s “early ‘60’s-inspired collection” on the first day of the event: “His work is far from being the most innovative or interesting on the London Fashion Week schedule”, but in the same edition their fashion writer Rosamund Urwin was unstinting in her acclaim for the 33-year old Anglo-Turkish Canadian, Erdem Moralioglu, whose catwalk took place at the Royal Opera House on Monday 19th September. He is, she declared “A darling of the fashion press.The editors of US, Italian and British Vogues – Anna Wintour, Franca Sozzani and Alexandra Shulman – have all worn his designs.”  Despite the optimism that generally prevails prior to these occasions, there was also a slight element of anxiety in the British media’s coverage of LFW. On the 10th September in the Guardian, Cartner-Morley speculated as to whether some editors, buyers and models would arrive from the New York Fashion Week (September 8th-15th) in time for the LFW opening, but offered her readers the assurance that “British fashion can be cheered by reports that the Duchess of Cambridge is seen as a key influence by the global fashion industry”. Far more alarming for LFW and the BFC was the piece by Viv Groskop in the Observer newspaper on 4th September. Her contention was that many of the top models only come to LFW for a day or two (or not at all) because they can earn much more at the Fashion Weeks in New York, Milan (September 21st-27th) and Paris (27th September-5th October). She quoted Premier Models founder Carole White’s view that “London designers are not realistic about what they pay. “Their rates have not moved on since 1983”. Moreover, the Cibeles Madrid Fashion Week, held on virtually the same dates (16th-20th September) as LFW and subsidised by the Spanish government, has emerged as “ a serious competitor”. Some of the leading girls go “straight to Spain after New York and can get 10,000 Euros a day”. LFW will clearly have to rise to these challenges if it is to retain its present clout in the global fashion market.






Filed under: Society | Posted on September 20th, 2011 by Colin D Gordon

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