Founded only 19 years apart, London Fashion Week and The London Design Festival have both coincided in the city for the first time in history. But what does this mean for the two separate yet similar industries? Marium Ul-Haq takes a closer look...
London Design Festival is a curation of some of the nation’s most innovative thinkers, creators and distributors, all of whom come together to celebrate design. With great support from various London organisations, the annual festival pushes London onto the international stage, to promote it as a serious competitor as the design capital of the world. 15 years later, the festival celebrates its 15th chapter, only bigger, bolder and more thought-provoking than the last. Not to be confused with Design Week, LDF is annually held in September; much like London Fashion Week, which always follows schedule on fromNew York Fashion Week and precedes Milan Fashion Week.
London Fashion Week, which saw its first showcase in 1984, has often borrowed heavily from the design industry. From large stage setups for fashion shows, to individual collections themselves, design has played a huge part in bringing fashion to life, with many reputable designers looking to draw inspiration from design. On the other hand, design also collaborates with fashion; take Julien MacDonald using prints from his LFW collections, and transforming them onto wallpaper in an ongoing union with Graham Brown. As a result, any room is transformed, adding instant character with beautiful, feminine prints for the ideal feature wall.
The Victoria and Albert Museum – the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design which has just won TripAdvisor’s 2017 Travellers’ Choice Award for the best Museum in the UK, is the central hub for LDF. Housing a variety of specially-commissioned displays and installations as well as hosting an array of talks, tours and workshops with exclusive insider experience, LDF is the centre of attention at the museum for the duration of the festival. Known as the home of some great past exhibitions, including a celebration of David Bowie, ‘The Golden Age of Couture’ as well as the 'Magic Lantern' installation by Mat Collishaw, the V&A is the home of all things creative. In our eyes, it is a main focal point amongst all London attractions, rich with history.
In the ‘Instagram Age’ of today, people are more focused on the visual, paying attention to the smallest of details and aiming for an altogether more pleasing aesthetic in all areas of life. So now, Fashion Week as a whole is more than just debuting the latest collections. Each show has its own personality; half of the fun lies in the stage setup and of the ‘performance’ in itself. While models still mainly follow the archaic tradition of walking stone-faced down the runway, the catwalk itself isn’t just a straight path anymore. Look to Louis Vuitton and you’ll see models riding around on a playful carousel in a large room. Look to Mulberry and you can find a grand cathedral transformed into a stained-glass-and-mirrored venue, with subtle undertones of gothic inspiration. Elle Décor themselves took note of some of the grandest show stages in recent fashion week history, thus further highlighting the infusion of fashion and design. As the fashion industry has challenged itself in many ways (think wearable tech), Chanel has grown in its extravagance in its show/stage setups. One of the most recent examples, is of course, the exceptional rocket launch at the Grand Palais for the debut of their FW17 collection. Here, an evident influence from design, which took around 6 months to perfect was executed with mind blowing precision. These elaborate and somewhat theatrical scenes help to add to the overall atmosphere, insinuating that the setup is almost just as important as the clothes that are being debuted.
So how is it that the two major events have come together under the same city, at the same time, for the first time? As the two large industries draw in thousands of creatives, celebrities and world renowned names alike, is the collision of the two celebrations a coincidence or deliberate intention? While the design industry has been valued at £70 Billion and fashion at £30 Billion on average, the two fields contribute generously to the UK economy. Similarly to fashion, our design expertise is in demand across the globe, attracting inward investment and boosting exports. These statistics highlight the importance of the creative arts, and just how valid our input into the industry is. Thus, the fusion of the two fields could be an ideal combination to further boost our financial state, in a fast approaching, post-Brexit world.
While it’s evident that all creative fields are interlinked and heavily thrive off one another, the question now is, could London Fashion Week and London Design Festival merge together, for real? In a further bid to place London on the Global Stage for all things creative, we believe it’s an idea worth considering.