London Fashion Week's must-sees
As the world's chic and sleek descend on the capital in search of catwalk epiphanies, Harriet Walker explains what not to miss
The collections in New York wound down last night with Marc Jacobs' spring/summer 2012 show. Now London braces itself for an influx of fashionable faces.
Fashion Week kicks off today at Somerset House, where designers will show their spring/ summer collections to audiences of style press, buyers, celebrities and bloggers.
After a summer in which Britain's style credentials have come under scrutiny thanks to the weddings of Kates Middleton and Moss, a stampede of visitors to the Metropolitan Museum's Alexander McQueen exhibition in New York and the court case involving John Galliano, eyes turn expectantly towards London's catwalks.
More than 100 designers will hold catwalk shows and presentations during the week (which is not really a week – it ends with a menswear-focused day on Wednesday); a further 205 will exhibit on site as static shows, and over 5,000 visitors will visit the event. Hot tickets include shows by Scottish designer Christopher Kane, witty street-couturier Giles Deacon (who yesterday announced he was to step down as creative director of the Parisian label Ungaro) and international super-brand Burberry, which returned from Milan to show on home turf back in 2009. They are joined on the schedule by household names Vivienne Westwood, John Rocha and Margaret Howell.
Speculation is always rife as to when the editor of American Vogue will show her face – she is normally front row for Christopher Kane and Burberry, who are both showing on Monday. Shades, fur coat and hairspray at the ready.
London is known for its enfants terribles and Gray currently holds the crown for her wild ways with bright colours. Previous collections have included dresses with motherboards attached, and last season her models wore balloon headdresses.
New York front rows cooed over the Beckhams' new baby, but London hopes to trump that with a pregnant Beyoncé set to launch her House of Deréon fashion label tomorrow night. Collaborating with her mother, who used to make all of her stage costumes, the singer will host a catwalk show in Selfridges - although her attendance has not yet been confirmed.
This incredibly successful global empire is the behemoth of London Fashion Week. The brand erects enormous marquees in which to hold its show and the venue is always crammed with A-listers, such as Emma Watson, Kate Bosworth and, last season, Fashion Council ambassador Samantha Cameron.
The Mayor of London is not just another glamorous blond at Fashion Week – he's the one launching the whole event, giving an opening speech alongside the British Fashion Council's chairman Harold Tillman.
The intellectual Swedish designer returns to the main catwalk after two years out – her quirkily gothic collections have previously been inspired by cosmetic surgery, horror films and virtual reality, with soundtracks of deafening heavy metal.
One of London's coolest shops celebrates 10 years in the business this season with a presentation at Somerset House. The Savile Row retailer started life as an independent boutique and its avant garde approach to everyday dressing has since garnered global renown.
Glaswegian designer Jonathan Saunders originally showed in New York but, since his return to London two years ago, his colourful printed pieces have become an international hit.
Always one of the most well-attended shows, Topshop has something to prove this year after opening more stores in the US. Last season's collection was full of Americana influences, and Sir Philip Green will no doubt be looking to cement his transatlantic popularity.
The Texan-born Renaissance man will unveil his ultra-luxurious womenswear range at a small presentation on Sunday evening. The event is exclusive to the point of cutting off its nose to spite its face: only top-ranking magazine editors are invited to this salon show.
Journalist Colin McDowell's talent-scouting initiative picks a young name once a year to receive mentoring, funding and a slot on next year's schedule. Previous winners include Erdem Moraglioglu, who has been worn by Sarah Brown and Samantha Cameron.
Design Duo Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff won the Best Emerging talent prize at last year's British Fashion Awards, and their show is one of the most exciting on the schedule. Last season, punk-inspired modern witches marched four abreast down the catwalk. Whatever next?
Deacon is one of London's most well-loved names. His last show was held at the Royal Courts of Justice and inspired by Delaroche's painting of The Execution of Lady Jane Grey. This season's invitation is a silver foil eyemask, already much tweeted and tried on.
Kane wows his audiences season after season – his last show featured vinyl trims filled with holographic dyed glycerine oil. Discovered straight out of college by Donatella Versace, Kane is known as one of the most innovative minds working in fashion right now.