Lights, runway, action! Catwalk fashion shows are back with bang after Covid hell

Models on the Bora Aksu catwalk show during Spring/Summer2020 London Fashion Week (PA)

London Fashion Week is “back with a vengeance” and will bring “a bit of excitement and energy” to the capital, its boss said on Thursday.

Caroline Rush, head of the British Fashion Council, was speaking ahead of the extravaganza, which will see a series of parties being held before the official launch.

Covid closed catwalks and plunged the global fashion industry into crisis but Rush said London’s “digital physical hybrid” will be the “most physical” event in 18 months.

Some 130 brands – including Vivienne Westwood, Roksanda, Erdem and Emilia Wickstead – will put on 79 catwalk shows or presentations — with a further 81 digital events.

Caroline Rush (Dave Benett)

The first show will be Saul Nash.

Rush said: “We are really hoping we will play that part in bringing the energy back to London. I think there is a real opportunity to come back with a vengeance and for people to enjoy retail and everything that LFW has to offer. Hopefully, it will bring excitement and energy to the city.”

She said being able to put on a such a large number of physical shows in the face of the pandemic was proof of the industry’s “resilience”. “London and the fashion industry are incredibly resilient,” she said. “But being able to come back and be able to put on events like LFW, which will give a bump to our businesses, our designers, but also our London economy, it feels good to be able to bring it back.”

However, a number of British designers — including Burberry and Victoria Beckham — are absent from this year’s schedule. Rush said their decision not to show at LFW, which runs until Tuesday, was due to issues with Covid quarantine exemptions.

“We have been in conversations with Burberry and Victoria Beckham and the big challenge for them was they wanted to be able to have security for talent to travel into London,” she said.

“Unfortunately the quarantine exceptions didn’t come through in enough time for them. They will be filming their collection and releasing digitally. Hopefully we will have that security so that in February we will see them back.”

Rush said digital presentations had boosted many emerging brands and would be part of the schedule for years to come.

She said: “There have been a lot of conversations in the past week about the benefit of that shared physical experience in having catwalk shows.

“But equally, the benefits of digital are you immediately can track it [your impact] outside the country, you are building audiences to be able to build your fan base. Some businesses have gained a bit of traction over the last year by doing digital activations.”

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