The Column: A rollercoaster fashion year

tells us why London is set to put itself back on the map in 2013

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The flurry of Men’s Fashion Week heralds the latest cycle of 2013 Fashion Weeks across the globe, and London’s offerings didn’t disappoint. Whilst the emerging British talent from the likes of Topman Design and JW Anderson aren’t quite on a par with the New York, Paris and Milan powerhouses (yet), London is looking hot on their heels. Looking back on the ups and downs of British Fashion, 2012 was a bit of a rollercoaster to say the least.

2012 dawned bright in London, but the initial high of LFW was soon overshadowed by Olympic fever. Way back in February 2012, the Autumn/Winter shows set the fashion commentators abuzz with talk of how London was finally entering the same league as the Big Three. Hotly tipped talents such as Christopher Kane sparkled in the limelight, and Alexander McQueen showed again on British soil for the first time in years.
However, this positive mood soon dissipated in the face of the backlash against the now infamous ‘fashion section’ of the Olympics closing ceremony. Journalists and Internet commentators alike rushed to slam the decision to include one of the UK’s leading industries in the show. What should have been a celebration of our country’s new design talent turned into a mean-spirited diatribe against the models in comparison to athletes.

People seemed to feel the ‘positive’ body image of the latter category alone should belong in the spotlight. Whilst it’s true the fashion industry still has serious issues with underage and underweight models, the sports sector should perhaps concentrate on their own problems – the recent doping scandals being a good example. The models in question were positively mature for their job, and it was as much about the clothes and what they stood for as it was about the iconic faces of Moss et al. Sadly, this message was lost in the furore and left those with a deep love for fashion and an antipathy for sport, feeling a bit like being the last picked for the team (again).

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By September, the UK seemed spent by the double whack of Olympic and Jubilee festivities, and LFW Spring/Summer 2013 faded into the background. New York and Milan hogged the attention and trend forecasters passed over the London catwalk offerings. But all is not lost – 2013 is shaping up to get British fashion back on track and back on the map.

The decision to include Stella McCartney in the New Years’ Honours list was an incredibly positive start. Awarding her an OBE, alongside sporting talents such as Bradley Wiggins and Jessica Ennis, was a tacit acknowledgement of the substantial role her team of designers played in collaborating with Adidas to create over five hundred pieces of stylish and functional sportswear.

With LFW Autumn/Winter 2013 just around the corner in mid-February, I sincerely hope that the British fashion scene can recapture some of the hype that was generated last year. All the positive signs are there; The British Fashion Council have named their NEWGEN Winners, and having seen their previous offerings it would be criminal if they didn’t achieve the attention they deserve. I attended J. JS Lee’s presentation in September and her collections streamlined use of a minimalist colour palette is already having an impact on the high street. On the catwalk J. W. Anderson and Simone Rocha are safe bets, without compromising on the potential of original and inspiring designs. The BFC have a knack for cherry picking the best of this country’s new talent and raising them higher, hopefully their choices can only propel British fashion further into the forefront of this global industry.

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