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The Fascinating History of London Fashion Week

Now one of the biggest and most important fashion events of the year, the short history of London Fashion Week is absolutely fascinating. New York Fashion Week might be bigger and make more money, but it had a 41-year head start.

The first London Fashion Week took place in 1984, and from very simple beginnings, has turned into a behemoth of an event that is watched closely by industry experts. Bigger than Milan Fashion Week and even Paris Fashion Week, the short history of the London-based fashion event is full of controversies and fashion icons. Here’s what you need to know.

Early Days

The first-ever London Fashion Week was mostly held in a tent in a car park in front of the Commonwealth Institute in West London. There was an offsite spot for showrooms, but the main catwalk was in a tent on a cold February in 1984. That doesn’t mean that it was without glamour or excess, though. Not only was the first event attended by glamour icon Vivienne Westwood, but it also featured the debut of the legendary John Galliano. The fashion designer would then go onto become the five-time winner of the British Fashion Designer of the Year, but his first collection, based on the French Revolution, Les Incroyables remains a standout concept that launched him in the right way.

The Guests

The first London Fashion Week event was so successful that the UK government officially announced funding so that it could continue. It wasn’t just the fashion industry that benefited from the event either. Guests have come from all over the world to see the latest collections, debuts, and iconic moments, just as much as they want to be seen. From the Queen and Princess Diana to Margaret Thatcher and Victoria Beckham, the guests are as much of an attraction as the fashions on display. At the last fully live event in February 2020, over 5,000 guests were invited, and visitor numbers shot up to over 100,000 people. With 72 catwalk shows and presentations, and 250 designers showcasing their collections, it’s no surprise that London Fashion Week is one of the key calendar dates for everyone in the fashion industry.

The Strand

London Fashion Week isn’t held in a car park in West London anymore! Now, it’s located largely at 180 the Strand, and a lot more luxurious. When you consider that New York Fashion Week was launched in 1943, Milan Fashion Week in 1958, and Paris Fashion Week in 1973, it’s remarkable that the London show has become so influential. It might be the youngest of the ‘big four’, but according to research by Betway Casino it gets more visitors than Milan Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week combined! It also launched some legendary careers, including Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Philip Treacy, and Simone Rocha. In 2016, Rocha won the Womenswear Designer of the Year, and her clothes are seen being worn by everyone from Michelle Obama to Kate Middleton.

It might have started in a car park during a wet February, but London Fashion Week is now an iconic show that competes with the rest of the big fashion weeks. It might be the youngest, but it continues to defy expectations and generate both vast amounts of income for London and huge interest in the fashion industry itself.

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