It’s all change this season as a new mood of bankability resonates through British fashion
Nine years ago, Alexa Chung was at London fashion week as a Mulberry muse, watching from the front row as the £750 Alexa satchel named after her starred on the catwalk. This weekend she is back in a different guise, taking her first bow as a designer, when her Alexachung label takes to the catwalk in Bloomsbury on Saturday morning.
It is all change on all fronts at London fashion week. A shake-up has resulted in the most radically different schedule in years. Chung’s debut is followed by the first London catwalk show by Victoria Beckham, a trophy transfer from New York fashion week. Monday will be dominated by the debut at Burberry for Riccardo Tisci. The multiaward-winning fashion designer, with a cult following and an appetite for controversy, has promised to reinvent London’s biggest luxury brand – a reboot with the potential power to change what British fashion stands for.
There is a new mood of bankability in British fashion. “The latest statistics are unequivocal. The industry is now worth £32.3bn, and growing three times faster than the rest of our economy,” said Justine Simons, the deputy mayor of London on Friday, before taking her seat for J JS Lee, whose show took place alongside those of fellow designers Bora Aksu, Matty Boven and Ashley Williams on the first full day of fashion week.
Last week’s announcement that Chanel is to move its centre of global operations to London has further bolstered commercial confidence, and a Downing Street reception for fashion week on Tuesday is expected reflect a newly businesslike mood. What is more usually a cocktail-hour celebration of design talent and creative excellence will this time be an afternoon reception “focusing on the fashion business and the importance of international trade”.
Talking about her transition from muse to founder and creative designer of a label, with a team of 30 employees, Chung said: “It might look like a weird trajectory from the outside, but it’s no surprise to me that I’m in this position now.