London struggles to stay in style

AIR kisses, high fashion and backstage cat fights — it could only be London Fashion Week.

Having commenced its seasonal circuit of the fashion capitals in New York last week, Fashion Week moves on to London on Thursday with its catwalk presentations for spring/summer 2003.

Once the most innovative and important of the four fashion capitals on the circuit, which also includes Paris and Milan, London’s appeal amongst the fashion hierarchy has been waning over the past couple of seasons as a number of its most important designers have pulled out in favour of showing on the continent.

The reverberations felt throughout the industry in the aftermath of September 11 last year, hit London particularly hard. While New York had been forced to cancel all of its scheduled shows, London decided to persevere, but ultimately paid the price as major designers and American fashion press were noticeably absent.

Showcasing his seasonal collection on opening day of Fashion Week this season, Irish designer Paul Costelloe explains that the theme of the show is one of the most important aspects to attracting the attention of potential buyers and press.

“It needs to be focused on a certain theme or a trend and it must continue on from what was popular the season before,” he said.

Marking his 21st year in the industry, designer John Rocha is hoping to attract a huge crowd as he unveils his spring/summer range at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday next.

“It’s going to be a very big show for me. I never approach celebrities to come to the shows like other designers might, but I think we’ll get a lot of attention on Saturday.”

Continuing the Irish talent at this season’s presentation, designer Louise Kennedy will show case her new range at the London Designers Exhibition, which is next to Fashion Week’s headquarters at King’s Road.

“I don’t stage a catwalk show and I find that the exhibition works really well. A lot of the big names have decided to pull out of London, but it’s always had a great reputation for discovering new talent,” said the Dublin based designer.

A total of 47 designers will present catwalk shows in London this week, with a further 12 hosting off schedule presentations.

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