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“London is a great place for new ideas and shifting the status quo,” London-based artist and LN-CC collaborator William Cult tells us on the eve of London Fashion Week. “There’s a tradition of being fearless and pushing the envelope in many art forms and fashion.” Like us, William is constantly inspired by the city and its people. Faced with the unprecedented challenges of Brexit and a global pandemic, London fashion continues to thrive.
“Being scared [about the pandemic] made me realise how lucky I am to do this job,” Burberry’s creative director Riccardo Tisci told Vogue last year. “I want to be more creative, I want to give the best of myself. In the beginning, you want to get to a level you want to get to, when you get there, you’re working towards stabilisation, but this was a wake-up call: Let’s do our best.” The rest of London fashion awoke too and pushed just as hard. In difficult moments, the capital’s designers have this crazy, counter-intuitive flair for creating brilliance out of little more than their collective talent, ingenuity and imagination. Then, now and forever, London fashion is positive, transportive, representative, honest, fantastical and richly diverse. “People aren't solely driven by the business aspect, they show a lot more determination in keeping their voice, creativity and work evolving,” adds William. “London has re-established fashion as an art form and social practice; commerce comes along after,” agrees Iolo Edwards, founder of High Fashion Talk, a Facebook-born discussion group turned publication for fashion fans. “It’s a breeding ground for the world’s best talent and a platform for diverse voices to be heard.”
“We are in a really exciting time where the digital format and virtual logistics lowers physical and financial barriers to entry and have allowed a new generation of designers to join the schedule,” Iolo explains. Thanks to its forward-thinking education institutions, talent incubators and support systems, London has and will always be synonymous with the future of fashion, an ecosystem that turns promise into progress and daydreams into reality. “It’s also been reassuring that the industry which once had a “the show must go on” mentality is now more understanding and accommodating to designers who feel they can miss a season, or decide they should scale back temporarily, and the acceptance, understanding, as well as support,” Iolo adds. Technology has only amplified these sentiments and provided the platform for pandemic-proof alternatives to traditional catwalk shows.
“Because of technology and changes in how people consume fashion media, the idea of Fashion Week had already begun to shift before the pandemic and lockdowns,” William explains. “What is the best way for a designer or for brands to show their work or ideas?,” he asked. It’s a question that further encouraged LFW designers, on-schedule and off, to challenge conventions, push possibilities and test technologies. From Burberry kickstarting the spring/summer 2021 show with an immersive, surreal fairy-tale, audience-less show experience streamed on Twitch through to Martine Rose’s autumn/winter 21 collaboration with experience design studio International Magic for a real-time audio-visual around-the-world tour of its cast’s lockdown reality, London leads and the world watches.
“What most excites me is the emergence of black talent,” William notes, while looking beyond the show schedule. “How that's going to create a new media ecosystem where people of different racial backgrounds, gender and class could build a new healthier idea of who we are as humans, or how we represent ourselves. London is a cultural melting pot and catalyst for this new vision.”