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London Fashion Week scare as heavy traffic raises safety concerns

Published 18/09/2015

Georgia May Jagger will be at the launch of an exhibition on the influence of Disney character Minnie Mouse in fashion through the decades
Georgia May Jagger will be at the launch of an exhibition on the influence of Disney character Minnie Mouse in fashion through the decades

Safety concerns have been raised about the new home of London Fashion Week, with the combination of heavy traffic and large crowds described as dangerous.

As the fashion elite descend on the capital for a style extravaganza featuring the latest designs from around the world, a student said she watched one girl almost get run over by a truck.

The event officially opened at its new home in Soho's Brewer Street Car Park today, which is on a busy road, having previously been held at Somerset House in an area away from traffic.

The new venue has been described as "ridiculous" and even dangerous due to the entrance's proximity to a busy street in Soho.

The area is packed with bloggers, fashionistas, and photographers keen to capture the unique dress sense of the glam squad at the 62nd London Fashion Week.

Kereen Hylton, 22, a fashion student from London, said: "It's ridiculous. Why would you represent London on a global scale in a car park?"

She added: "It's a main road, full of traffic. That's dangerous for pedestrians, people going about their daily business, and photographers.

"Somerset House was out of the way in an enclosed area."

Her friend, Aaliyah Eggay, 20, also a fashion student, shared Ms Hylton's fears for the safety of those attending the event, describing the scene outside in Brewer Street as "really chaotic" and "dangerous".

She added that "obviously" there will be lots of photographers wanting to take pictures of those arriving at the venue.

A third witness also expressed concern, saying she had watched one girl narrowly avoid being run over by a truck.

Danielle Davies, 20, a fashion student from Coventry, said the girl was about to be photographed at the time. "She was literally just about to walk and she stepped back. There was a few guys around saying you shouldn't be doing this in the middle of the road," she said.

A security man told the Press Association it was "stressful" to be working outside the venue.

Dean Lish said: "It's stressful really. There's too many people, especially on this street, which is busy anyway."

Passer-by Luke Poyner, a 34-year-old editor, was shocked at what he was seeing.

"I think it is preposterous. It's ridiculous. I don't know who thought to have it here. Heads will have to roll," he said.

Mr Poyner added that it did not look as though there was good enough traffic control, describing it as "bedlam", and remarked that there was no police presence.

"I don't think four traffic cones are enough to keep people out of harm's way," he said, adding that this problem could have been foreseen.

"It's a bit of a ridiculous idea," he said.

Another fashion student, Francesca Carter, 18, from Watford, said she and her classmates had been tasked with taking photographs at the event.

"We were standing in the road to take pictures and were told to move," she said, adding that it is difficult to take pictures of the fashionistas with "so many cars around".

She said she thinks Somerset House is a better venue.

Photographer Gideon Cudjoe, 25, from Fashion News Outlet, also said he preferred the former venue.

"Considering I've been to Somerset House in the past, it was very spacious and less claustrophobic. It's a little bit dangerous. But at the same time it's quite small so you can see everyone in the same place," he said.

Fellow photographer Alma Falcone, 37, from Spain, added: "Somerset House was way better. It's so hard to get pictures here."

One woman fell on a wet pavement outside the car park, with her bag smashing to pieces, and when she was on the ground she was a short distance away from passing vehicles.

A spokeswoman for London Fashion Week said: "A management plan has been put in place to manage pedestrians and vehicle access to Brewer Street as well as guests for the show.

"In light of the traffic congestion in the wider area additional stewards and traffic management has been put in place to keep the area open to all."

An officer from Westminster City Council was sent to have a look at the area outside Brewer Street Car Park.

A council spokesman said that while the officer will monitor the area for the rest of the day there were no issues from their point of view at this stage.

Meanwhile, before heavy rain hit the capital, fluffy shoes, spiked necklaces and friends in matching outfits were the focus of dozens of photographers.

Fashion veteran Dame Zandra Rhodes presented her show and comedian Stephen Fry just happened to walk past the venue of that particular event, which was on Regent Street.

Asked if he was attending London Fashion Week, he said: "Christ, no."

Over five days models will take to the catwalk wearing brands including Burberry and Vivienne Westwood Red Label as the 2016 spring/summer collections are showcased.

Designers including Erdem and Roksanda will celebrate their 10th anniversaries, while newcomers Le Kilt, Marques' Almeida and Phoebe English will also feature.

Model Georgia May Jagger, singers Geri Halliwell and Mollie King and presenter Laura Whitmore will be among the guests at the launch tonight of an exhibition on the influence of Disney character Minnie Mouse in fashion through the decades.

In an effort to make the event inclusive, the British Fashion Council has organised a programme of events for the public at Golden Square, which includes an outdoor cinema with live streaming from the catwalk shows.

:: London Fashion Week runs until Tuesday.

A Westminster City Council spokesman added: "We have had no formal complaints. We are reminding people that it will be busier than usual around Soho, but we expect the area to benefit hugely from what is a world-class event."

Dame Zandra told the Press Association her show went "very, very well", adding that she is feeling "exhausted" now that it is over.

Asked about the event's venue change and people's concerns about the traffic, she said that when she was coming in, it seemed "a bit difficult to get in and out", but said she has not had a chance to really see.

Dame Zandra, who has striking pink hair with a full fringe, said she has not yet seen the Duchess of Cambridge's new fringe. Asked if fringes are trendy at the moment, she said: "I wear one regardless because I don't like the wrinkles on my face."

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