Photo: Niklas Halle’n/AFP via Getty Images
London Fashion Week was effectively canceled following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8. And then came a phone call between the British Fashion Council and the designers a week ago. In that call, London’s fashion community rallied together to push ahead with the planned week of events in a way that respected the national mood and industry planning, which in many cases was already too far down the line to return. behind. As Jonathan Anderson, the established founder of JW Anderson and creative director of LVMH-owned Loewe, made clear, the cancellation could have damaging implications for younger and smaller brands.
The schedule of shows, events and parties – which start today – has been scaled back in response to the monarch’s death, but the show had no choice but to go on.
“What most people outside the industry don’t realize is that Fashion Week is primarily a business event,” says designer Rejina Pyo, who will continue with her show on Sunday morning. “It is part of a global fashion calendar that is planned a year in advance and impossible to change at the last moment.”
Some decided not to participate. Burberry, which was scheduled to show a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace, canceled its title on Saturday night. As a mark of “respect”, it has now been rescheduled to October 26 with a new location. Belgian designer Raf Simons also canceled his show. Young London designers often anticipate and use the appeal of big names and advertisers.
London Fashion Week has long been an incubator for young talent with non-profit organizations such as Fashion East contributing to its funding. Speaking off the record to the Cut, several young designers admitted they’ve had to reconfigure their finances to put on a show after big-name sponsors pulled support, needing quick and smart thinking to secure that they can continue to present the collections as planned.
Daniel W. Fletcher, 30, is one of the first designers to appear this week. The Central Saint Martins-trained designer who came second on Netflix Next in fashion, shared that his show will mark the moment with a touching tribute: “As someone who has experienced several significant losses of my own in the last 12 months, I’m very aware of how different people deal with grief,” he says. for Cut. “The Queen’s death is a huge loss for many people, especially her family, so I want to be sensitive to that.” Fletcher, whose work regularly references British culture and has previously organized anti-Brexit protests during London Fashion Week, says he will “honour this man who has served our country for 70 years”.
Twenty-six-year-old British-American designer Harris Reed says that – having already paid for the show – canceling was simply not a viable option. “I think now is the time we need to embrace the creativity we have within the UK. Fashion is a medium that makes people dream, but it’s been a challenging few years,” explains Reed. “I think sometimes people think fashion is frivolous, but for us it’s business. It’s so integral to have these moments twice a year where you show the world who you are and sell the next chapter of your company through the show.”
Like Fletcher, Reed, “in a deep level of respect,” paid tribute to the late queen in a final look that featured a bouquet of her majesty’s favorite flower: the lily of the valley. But tributes and direct references to the queen are not the only approaches expected over the next few days.
London-based Asian American designer Chet Lo, who will make his first solo appearance on the London Fashion Week schedule this season after three seasons as part of talent incubator Fashion East, explains the feeling of “disappointment” when he heard that major brands were canceling shows. . “So many young designers, like myself, have spent so much time, energy and capital creating our shows, so it was very upsetting that all that effort might have been for nothing. The consequences would be quite damaging to the brand if the show didn’t go ahead,” he said.
Lo understandably and rightly does not feel the need to mark the transition explicitly within his collection. “Of course, we sympathize with the British nation and the massive changes happening in the country at this time, but my brand is very much focused on my heritage and background,” adds Lo. “My references are very different.”
JW Anderson confirmed it would go ahead, but instead “will be more intimate and private than ever before”. “Now we must stand together and continue to create the incredible stories this city is known for,” the brand wrote.