The joy of fashion week

Fashion weeks have been getting a bit of a bad rep over the past few seasons. So, as part of Happy New Decade – our latest creative scheme in which we've been exploring positive ideas for the future – we’re taking a look at London Fashion Week in 2020. From optimistic sustainability messages to smile-inducing shows, here's what we're looking forward to this season.

Backstage at Rejina Pyo's spring/summer 2020 show 

The joy-making designers

We can’t help but notice that fashion shows are becoming increasingly playful spectacles that raise a smile. London designers, particularly, are moving away from overt themes to present collections that encourage us to put away phones and value the experience in front of us. Backstage at the JW Anderson show, Jonathan Anderson told assembled reporters that there was no underlying theme for his crystal-laden collection: ‘It’s just about looking. Maybe we should just enjoy the idea of looking, enjoy the experience.’ Simone Rocha’s show may have been inspired by Irish Wren boys, but it was her all-star cast that elicited smiles of recognition in the audience – from English actor Lesley Manville OBE to rising star Jessie Buckley – in a celebration of beauty from all ages. Similarly, Rejina Pyo’s typically punchy runway was inspired by the 94-year-old artist Etel Adnan: ‘I was thinking of how at that point in your life, how free you would be to express yourself,’ Pyo told, ‘not really thinking about other things … [but] being true to yourself and enjoying life.’ A positive note for fashion week, if ever we heard one…

Ancuta Sarca's spring/summer 2020 presentation

The spirit of our city

Call us biased, but no other city fuels and nurtures young designers quite like London. Thanks to the BFC’s NEWGEN programme and Lulu Kennedy’s Fashion East initiative, the UK’s capital has brought the likes of Jonathan Anderson, Christopher Kane, Roksanda Ilincic, Gareth Pugh and Charlotte Knowles through the ranks. Who will be next, you ask? We’ve got our eye on Ancuta Sarca, the Romanian-born and London-based designer who's gained international recognition for her upcycled trainer and vintage heel hybrid footwear. 

@kanjiro_aoki. Photo courtesy of @laurabrown 

The not-so-serious street style 

It just wouldn’t be fashion week without stylish street-style stars being papped outside the shows. Over the past five years, the shot outside the show has become arguably more influential than the one of the model on the runway, but for Spring/Summer 2020 there was a subtle shift in the swarm of photographers. Challenging the idea that outfits may be put together just to be photograph-worthy rather than a reflection of the wearer’s own sense of style, fashion student Aoki Kanjiro held a placard aloft outside the London shows that read: ‘I would love to take a picture of you if you enjoy fashion for yourself’. It’s a positive thumbs-up from In Style’s Editor-in-Chief, Laura Brown.  


The editor's view

Who better than a Contributing Editor at British VOGUE to ask about the joy that London Fashion Week can bring? Over to you, Harriet Quick…

What it is that you love about Fashion Week? Who/what gets you excited about it each season?

I'm always excited for fashion season. The sheer endeavour of putting on thousands of shows, each fighting to project a distinct point of view, a grab on your memory, is mind-blowing. Even if fashion looks the same, or trends repeat, it never really is quite the same. Fashion in that way is fantastically fluid and stimulating. I have the utmost respect for those designers that manage to continually seduce, surprise and delight.

How would you like to see Fashion Week change? What is its future?

The role of the catwalk show is now to provide a performative experience, jettisoning the brand and its values to a vast audience viewing on YouTube or Instagram. The stakes are continually raised. Where the clothes were becoming almost like 'props', I think we are now starting to see a reaffirmation of real clothes on the catwalk and true originality. At the same time, brands and the show circuit need to be environmentally friendly and not promote or create waste and excess. It's a tricky balancing act. In the not too distant future, I can see a revival of the small, very special trunk shows in a home or atelier – not unlike the events that took place in 100 years ago in Paris.



I think we are now starting to see a reaffirmation of real clothes on the catwalk and true originality. At the same time, brands and the show circuit need to be environmentally friendly and not promote or create waste and excess.

Harriet Quick, Contributing Editor, British VOGUE

The BFC show space

The positive new initiatives

With an ever-pressing need to address the industry’s negative impact on the planet, fashion weeks around the world have been responding with a host of positive initiatives. First up on the 2020 fashion calendar, Copenhagen Fashion Week ­unveiled a new Sustainability Action Plan 2020-2022, aimed at reducing negative impacts, innovating its business model and accelerating industry change. New York Fashion Week recently held Sustainable NYFW, an event to explore the latest innovations in eco-friendly measures, and last September, the British Fashion Council (BFC) revealed its commitment to sustainability by launching the Institute of Positive Fashion (IPF). This season sees the expansion of their Positive Fashion Exhibition, which invites guests (industry insiders and the public) to discover new brands and immersive experiences that explore the most compelling stories around sustainability, craftsmanship and ethics. Emerging brands such as Riona Treacy and Hanna Fiedler (both Alexander McQueen and Mary Katrantzou alumni, no less) are notable highlights, supporting local British production, using organic materials and upcycling fabric off-cuts. Is this the best invite in town? We think so.